Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Where Eagles Dare is the most fast-paced, action-oriented, craziest thriller I have ever read. Which is good, because it’s largely unbelievable. The plot is too crazy, the characters too unreal, etc., et al for this to be read as a believable book. And that is a shame.
In the book, a team of six British commandos and one American OSS agent parachute into the Alps to gain entrance to a German fortress that can only be accessed by aerial gondola. It’s also the headquarters for the Gestapo and Nazi intelligence. It’s surrounded by a barracks of German alpine troops, who are supposed to be elite.
The reason for this mission is, theoretically, to rescue a downed American general who is in charge of coordinating D-Day. They need to get him before the Germans get info out of him, so time is of the essence. We soon see, however, other reasons for the mission.
The protagonist, Smith, though is problematic. See, he possesses super human strength and endurance and is generally omniscient. In other words, not remotely believable. He rides atop the gondola twice without being blown off, in one case with Germans grabbing his legs and trying to throw him off. With the altitude, the high winds, and the cold, it just doesn’t seem likely. Additionally, this book is full of double and even triple agents and Smith knows all. We’re never told how he comes by half of his information; we’re just to accept it. I have problems with that.
Nonetheless, as I said, it’s an action packed book, a real page turner. It’s rather stunning how they pull this off, all the while with people dying off all around them, and the twist at the end is a real shocker. Of course Smith knew of the twist. Yeah. I’d give this book three stars for believability, but it’s so good, I’m giving it four. Recommended.