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The Matarese Circle: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 1983

4.3 out of 5 stars 211 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Matarese Dynasty Series

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Robert Ludlum and The Matarese Circle
“A blockbuster . . . Ludlum’s best.”The Wall Street Journal
“A spellbinder.”The Dallas Morning News
“Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combined.”The New York Times
“Don’t ever begin a Ludlum novel if you have to go to work the next day.”Chicago Sun-Times

From the Publisher

Only two rival spies--and one mysterious woman--can stop them: Scofield, CIA, and Talaniekov, KGB. They share a genius for espionage--and a life of terror and explosive violence. Sworn enemies, they have vowed to terminate each other--yet now they must become allies. Because only they possess the brutal skills and ice-cold nerves vital to destroy an international circle of killers, the Matarese.

Product Details

  • Series: Matarese (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (November 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553258990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553258998
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Ludlum was the author of twenty-seven novels, each one a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 225 million of his books in print, and they have been translated into thirty-two languages. He is the author of The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Chancellor Manuscript, and the Jason Bourne series--The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum--among others. Mr. Ludlum passed away in March, 2001.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is, to my mind, Robert Ludlum's best book ever. He has written some great work, most of it now about twenty years old. It still reads fresh, though. Ludlum has written some really fine books. They are, before anything else, incredibly compelling stories. Ludlum has never had to rely on the details of how to create an atomic bomb, or what the sights of a submachine gun are made of in order to create a great story. That is what sets his work apart from so many contemporary writers.
The story starts 100 years ago, with the creation of a dynasty called the Matarese which is led by one incredibly insightful and equally evil man. It brings us to the a family chillingly close to the Kennedys, just a step from the White House. The protagonists are America's and the Soviet's top spies, who, hate each other and (of course) must work together to save their respective nation's interests.
This is a great book to take on vactaion, when the reader has hours to devote. Don't start this unless you have time, and nothing pressing that must be done.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the quintessential spy thriller. The plot seems outlandish at first, two spies who hate each other teaming up to destroy an evil organization hell-bent on taking over the world. Yet, Ludlum gives very reasonable explanations for every hole in the story. For instance, the American spy Scofield and the Russian spy Talaniekov would kill one another at first sight. However, Talaniekov receives word that he must find Scofield to take down this international organization of assassins. He can't simply walk up to Scofield and explain the situation without being killed so he sets up a situation where Scofield's only move will be to realize that Talaniekov and he must talk to each other civilly. The cat and mouse game that ensues between the two is, in my opinion, the best part of the book; each one trying to outmaneuver the other. One other blunder that most authors make and that I expected Ludlum to make was in the development of the two spies' character. Most authors will simply tell the reader that the character was "the most respected man in international espionage," the only evidence being that other spies will say that the person was the best. Ludlum really proves to the reader why Scofield and Talaniekov are the best, not with overwhelming physical capabilities(which they both possess) but with superior intelligence. The subtle moves they make that gives them an advantage over their enemies are very impressive.

I especially enjoyed the relationship between the two once they've allied together. It's not the amicable one that most authors would probably lean towards. It's tentative, but professional and respectful at the same time. We never see the two joking with one another.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a masterpiece of suspense, intrigue, excitement, intricate detail, spectacular action, and explosive scenes that make Jason Bourne look like a feeble character in comparison. By far the most spectacular Ludlum book in my opinion, the Matarese Circle starts with the two most incredible and delightfully violent scenes that I have ever read and, from that point on it simply does not stop. You will be pounded with intense scenes from the beginning to the end. WARNING: It is not for the faint of heart or the politically correct. This book has so many shocks and twists that by the end I felt like I had gone twenty rounds with Tyson in his prime.

It starts with two events that shock the American and Russian governments so deeply they are thrown into an uneasy balance with each other. Not to mention the book takes place at the height of the Cold War making their relationship even more delicate. Enter Scofield a.k.a Beowulf Agate and Talenikov a.k.a. The Serpent, the two best and most highly respected deep cover spies for their respective governments. After Talenikov is warned by an old spycraft teacher about a mysterious organization called the Matarese that threatens the stability of governments the world over, he must seek out Beowulf Agate. Only he and Beowulf can stop this overwhelmingly powerful organization that has infiltrated the highest levels of government. Only one problem: the two renowned spies are bitter enemies that bear a hatred towards each other deeper than the ocean.

Wonderfully written and artfully detailed, I only wish that Mr. Ludlum was alive to continue writing such awesome books. If you're a Ludlum fan or just looking for a book that gives delight throughout, read The Matarese Circle. It will not disappoint.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you love Ludlum's over-the-top novels (and I do), The Matarese Circle has to be up there with the best. Not all of Ludlum's books are a good match of plot and style -- the repeated "Oh my God!" declamations of one character after another can get silly when the goings-on aren't as riveting as they could be (the two Bourne sequels suffer from this problem, I think.) But Circle delivers on all fronts. Part One is a masterpiece all by itself -- the intricate cat-and-mouse game between Talienkov and Scofield plays out thrillingly. And these are two of Ludlum's most believably drawn characters; we feel empathy for both, and root for them to join forces from the get-go. Antonia Gravet, the inevitable gorgeous heroine/love interest who surfaces in Part Two, brings a well-crafted and believable backstory to the plot. One final bonus: some of Ludlum's zestiest minor characters appear in this book, adding to the fun in nearly every chapter.
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