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VINE VOICEon October 8, 2009
Just as Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" is held up as the trilogy to which all fantasy trilogies are inevitably compared, I've little doubt that Larsson's Millenium series will play that benchmark role for mystery thrillers over the next few decades.

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" is an incredibly worthy successor to the previous two books in the trilogy. And toward the end, there will be moments when tears are brought to your eyes. Larrson knew precisely how to play with timing, rhythm, and wording to pace the story and its ending just right. I'm hard pressed to even guess how else he could have ended this series.

The story follows the natural conclusion of the events in the first two books as everything dovetails toward a "behind-closed-door" trial. Larrson did a very good job of the first part of this book that takes place in the hospital where Lisbeth is recovering. I really enjoyed reading things from her perspective, then spinning out to others involved and each of their limited pieces of the evolving puzzle. And things just get better as the book moves along.

Frankly, once you hit part three of the book, it's almost impossible to put down. I picked it up just once...just to read a chapter or two in the second half of the book...only to find that three hours had gone by and the book was over.

Larrson's tying up of many loose ends throughout the book - and this is key - throughout the book (not all in the last few chapters like so many other writers) is masterful. And that emphasizes the one tragic aspect of this final book: knowing that we will never again be graced with Larrson's storytelling mastery.
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on December 28, 2009
For the ending of this book alone, it is worth reading. However, while I wish I could say that this book was of the same caliber as that of the prior two books, in my opinion it was not. The book picked up right where the last left off, with Salander in the hospital being treated for her injuries. Blomkvist continues to sleuth on her behalf in order to expose those who have made her life hellish and attempted to frame her for all manner of crimes. Of course, in his spare time he also still manages to attract every woman within a 500-yard-radius like a bee to honey, but I digress. All of the other familiar characters from the prior books return.

I don't want to spoil the plot of the book, so I will give a general review. The overall feel of the book to me is that it was the least edited and least considered of the three. This would make sense if Larsson had intended to go back and do some more tweaking and editing before publication, but he was obviously unable to do so after his death. There are entire sections of the book that meander on and on with no apparent purpose with regard to moving the story forward. These sections would have benefited greatly from some serious editorial paring.

To me, the plot did not at all move along at the same clip as the prior books. The suspense just wasn't there to the same degree. I recall that I simply could not put down the previous books, but I was nowhere near as riveted by this one. In addition, there were a number of somewhat annoying grammatical errors, sentence fragments, etc.

For the good points of the book, the ending (if that is what we can call the last 150-200 pages) is a very nice, tightly written section that ties everything together beautifully. Again, it struck me that perhaps Larsson had written the ending earlier than the rest of book three, as it appeared to be the best-constructed section of the entire book. For the ending alone, this story is worth reading. I wavered between a 3-and 4- star review for this reason. Ultimately, I considered whether the book, standing alone without the other two, would be a 4-star book, and I don't believe that would be the case.

As an aside, one minor issue is that on the book cover of the copy I picked up while in Belgium, the first blurb says "The Trial", as if the book is mostly about Salander's trial itself, which it is not. The trial itself takes up about the last tenth of the book. Whether this type of advertising will occur with the North American edition I don't know, but I write this warning simply so you might know what to expect.

In summary, anyone who has read the first two books simply will not be able to deny themselves the final installment, nor should they. Although I did not find the book to hold the same level of suspense and I sometimes found it rather dull, the ending of the book makes it very worthwhile reading. It is a great loss that Mr. Larsson passed away before he could really fine-tune the final book, and before he could write another.
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For those of you who have not read the first two volumes of this trilogy, I urge you to start on Volume one and proceed. The characters are so complex and real that an understanding of their background seems to me to be a must. The first two novels set up the reader for this wonderfully clever conclusion. The tale of good versus evil is one that is a history in time, and Stieg Larsson has given us a treat to savour.

The first one hundred pages of the third novel brings us up to date, and then we start the real read. More characters are introduced and at times during this 600 page read, I wondered if I could keep them straight. For the last two hundred pages, this book is very hard to put down. This is a tale of a series of conspiracies and how they come to cloud the Swedish democracy. How did Lisbeth Salander become the abused young woman, and will the people and times trying to destroy her win? And, Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist, will he be able to expose through his words, the wrongs that have been done. Will he regain Lisbeth's confidence?

Lisbeth Salander is in the Intensive Care Unit, she has been shot in the head. Her father is in a room down the hall, reportedly shot by Lisbeth. How did this come to be. Why are the Swedish Secret Service surreptitiously going in and out of his room? Why do we pick on those we do not understand? It is easier for us to believe those that are in power than to question the truth. The theme of the trilogy is that women are equals. There is no unnecessary overt sex and even though there is violence, it is believable. Blomkvist is a hero, he is the main antagonist and the muscle behind the investigation. He is out to assist Lisbeth Salander in becoming the woman she is meant to be instead of the woman who was looked at as the mad lesbian killer. He says, "When it comes down to it, this story is not primarily about spies and secret government agencies; it's about violence against women, and the men who enable it." The characters who surround them are wonderfully sketched out. We can picture in our mind's eye their faces and their countenance. This novel sums up the story of Lisbeth Salander, but leaves us wondering what is to be. Unfortunately, Stieg Larsson. because of his death, won't be continuing the series, it is up to us to find her rightful place.

It is easy to understand why this trilogy of Stieg Larsson's has become such a phenomenon. The search for justice and truth from a young, abused woman who has the nerves and strength of steel gives us all hope. We can believe through this wonderful narrative that the world is indeed a good place.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 10-13-09

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage)
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It was bittersweet to finish the last novel of Stieg Larsson's about Lisbeth Salander, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest". What a unique and fascinating character Lisbeth has been throughout the three novels. This last of the triumvirate begins the very moment that the last one leaves off. I highly recommend that one reads these novels in order for the best effect. I've enjoyed them all thoroughly and found the conclusion to be immensely satisfying.

Others reviewers have summarized the plot, and described the qualities and shortcomings of the novel, but I would like to take a moment to help readers who may be a bit daunted by Larsson's work. So here are my Tips on How to Best Read a Stieg Larsson "Girl" Book:

* Read it in hunks of time. Larsson's books aren't amenable for dipping in and out of in 5 or 10 minute increments. If you do that, you'll spend most of your time backtracking to get back into the complicated flow and plot. It's best to devote some time so that you can keep up with the pace.
* Don't be embarrassed if you need to make a character "cheat-sheet" - it's difficult to remember all the characters and it's cumulative; "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" has all the characters of the first two novels in addition to its own set! Larsson had nothing on Tolstoy for a long list of characters...and with the Swedish names being unfamiliar to the average American reader, it can be even more confusing. Just look at some of the "B" names: Blomqvist, Berger, Bublanski, Bjork, Bjurman, Bodin, Beckman, Berglund, Billinger, Badenbrink, Bladh, Borgsjo...then there is a Niedermann and a Nieminen and a Malm and a Malin...too similar to keep straight. Which are the cops, which are journalists, which are villains, which are heros?
* Don't be discouraged by the techno-babble. The first book has a comprehensive description of International Business standards and practices, the International Banking system, as well as specific Swedish business practices. The second book has a long and technical section about computer systems and hacking processes, the third book goes into great detail about the Swedish Secret Police and Sapo operations and super-secret sub-ops. Don't feel daunted by these, you don't need to understand every nuance to enjoy the story!
* Suspend judgment on the Swedish justice system and some of the "morals" of the characters. It would be, in my opinion, unpleasant to read these books while constantly thinking: "That wouldn't happen in the US!" or "We do things better in the US." so don't. As for the character's "morals"...there are villains who are 100% villains in these books, but there are no "heros" who are 100% heroic or fault free. Sweden never had the Puritans like we did, so their views on sex might be a little different than the average American's. All this is part of what is interesting , educational, and intriguing about these novels.
* Enjoy!
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on October 9, 2009
I bought my hardback from Amazon.UK because I couldn't wait until next year to finish Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy. The US publisher should move up their release date for this book, what the heck are they thinking?

No spoilers here! At 600 pages it's a whopper. The first half of the book is filled with at least 6 different stories being told and is a little hard to follow, but hang in there. It's when the stories begim to cross each other that makes it hard to put the book down. When you get to the last 200 pages, it's just impossible to stop. There are parts where the suspense builds and you get that awful feeling something really bad is going to happen. All in all, Larsson wraps his very feminist trilogy up nicely. I wasn't disappointed at all, only sad because that's all, folks.

4 stars because I loved "Played with Fire" as a 5 star book. Larsson wrote Salander as a remarkable unapoligetic feminist hero, and there is more of her in "Fire" than "Tattoo" and "Hornet's Nest."
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on November 6, 2009
This is the third book in what is now a trilogy of novels centered around the character Lisbeth Salander. Salander is unique -- a deeply flawed but also incredibly resourceful individual who will fascinate you. This book begins where the previous volume (The Girl Who Played With Fire) ends, with Salander brought to the emergency room of a hospital in Goteborg, Sweden, with three bullet wounds, including one in her head. One of the persons who tried to murder her later comes into the same hospital into a room two doors from Salander, bearing grievous wounds that Salander herself inflicted.

You will have to read the first two volumes of the trilogy to understand the storyline in this volume. That should be no problem, because the first two volumes were hard to put down. This third volume is the longest in the series, but it reads even faster than the first two. The first half of this volume sets up a situation involving legal charges against Salander that seem irrefutable, especially as police and prosecutorial resources are marshaled against her. Because of the charges against her, Salander is locked into her hospital room with no access to a computer and only very restricted access to information from outside. This lead-in creates tremendous tension, as the reader is allowed to look into the careful measures that Salander's friends and foes are taking to prepare for a courtroom denoument.

If you have already read the first two volumes in this trilogy, you will not need any coaxing to buy this third volume. It contains much less explicit descriptions of sexual behaviors than the second volume contained -- all to the good in my view. I found it to be the most exciting of the three volumes. It is rumored that a fourth volume in the series exists, but it is in need of editing and may also be locked up a long time in litigation regarding the deceased author's estate. Whether a fifth or sixth volume exist in outline form is anyone's guess, but we are unlikely to see anything beyond a fourth volume anytime soon, and even getting at the fourth volume in our lifetime may be a stretch. All of which is to say, get this book and enjoy it. It may be the last we ever see of Lisbeth Salander.
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on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I came to this novel with great trepidation. I'd loved the first two novels in the series and was understandably saddened by the premature end due to the author's untimely death. Aside from that, I was worried that the novel would end with some terrible cliff hanger as the previous one had. For what it's worth, I'm happy to report that if this series had to end now, I'm completely satisfied with how the story of Lisbeth Salander, Mikeal Blomkvist, et al wraps up.

As mentioned above, The Girl Who Played with Fire ends on a cliff hanger. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest picks up exactly where it ends off. I'd liked the second novel in the series much more than the first because it dealt far more extensively with the eponymous character. That is also the strength of Hornet's Nest. I just can't get enough of Lisbeth Salander. She is endlessly strange, fascinating, endearing, and resourceful.

This final novel strikes the best balance of the three between Lisbeth's story and Mikeal's story, which essentially converge at this point. But other characters get their fair share of narrative time and a subplot involving Erica Berger particularly captured my interest. Every storyline allowed Larsson to show off new facets of his established characters.

One of the most fascinating things about the plot of this book (which obviously I'm being incredibly vague about) was that in another novel, the good guys and the bad guys could have easily switched places. There are no cookie-cutter heroes and villains in Larsson's world. Sure, there are people to root for, but there's a lot of moral ambiguity involved. All of which makes for complex and smart story-telling. And Larsson's plotting is as strong as it ever was. This novel is his best yet.

At nearly 600-pages, I plowed through the book at breakneck speed, my interest never flagging. It is sadly clear to me that Larsson had further stories to tell about his girl. Not every loose thread is tied up, but the important bases are covered. The novel's end was as satisfying as anything you could ask for.

Rest in peace, Stieg.
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on February 16, 2010
Have been reading since age 4 (am now 68) and mostly fiction for the past 50 years. A novel a week. This trilogy is, in my opinion, the finest series I have ever read and Hornet's Nest may be the very best piece of fiction I have ever read. I found myself purposely slowing down in my reading because I simply did not want it to end. These are not stand alone books. Read them as 1-2-3 and you will never forget the experience. The biggest problem is what to read when you are finished. Everything else pales by comparison by virtually every measure. I envy those of you who have not started the journey or who are looking forward to the second and third novels. I almost look forward to the possibility of Alzheimers so I can read these over and over for the rest of my life. I may do so anyway.

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VINE VOICEon October 19, 2009
***Forewarned is forearmed: this review contains a few plot points from the the previous books in this trilogy:

The Girl Who Played with Fire ended with Mikael Blomkvist dialing for emergency help after he found a man with an axe in his head and fugitive-from-the-law Lisbeth Salander in extremely critical condition with a bullet in hers. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest begins with both Lisbeth and the man, Alexander Zalachenko, aka Karl Axel Bodin, being airlifted to Sahlgrenska hospital. After operations, both patients are placed in the same critical care wing, although the medical staff keep them isolated and under observation. Since they are mortal enemies, keeping them from attacking each other could be an impossibility if they wake up and can get mobile. Meanwhile, Sweden's law enforcers try to determine what charges should to be filed against them, and especially against multiple murder suspect Salander who has been the subject of a national manhunt.

Meanwhile, Blomkvist, who used duct tape and clean sheets to keep Lisbeth's blood inside her before the medics took over, isn't allowed to see her. He has his own problems with the police however, who want to know about the gun in his possession and about exactly what happened at Bodin's Gosseberga farm. Mikael doesn't have all the answers and even those he does have, he isn't to fully disclose. He's infuriated at the keystone cops who refused to heed his warning about the immense danger -- even when trussed up -- presented by the third person he encountered that night, the giant Niedermann. And Blomkvist wants to get back to the headquarters of the magazine, Millennium, so he can get on with his investigation into who masterminded more than two decades of cover-up that allowed Zalachenko to commit untold crimes and Lisbeth to be placed into a psychiatric facility and then declared mentally incompetent as an adult. He's so busy that he doesn't even ask about how Lisbeth is doing for a while: "It dawned on him that he had not been worried about her. He had assumed that she would survive. Any other outcome was unthinkable."

Thus opens the final volume of the late Stieg Larsson's trilogy about the asocial girl with an eidetic mind (at least until her head wound), deep secrets that include her extraordinary computer hacker abilities, and her burning vigilante sense of justice. As in the previous books, quite a few epithets, some casual sex, lots of investigative journalism, and jags of violence/vengeance mark this novel.

Broadly speaking, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage) dealt with corporate greed and the violent secrets in the family of one of Sweden's magnates. Then, Larsson turned to exposing the underbelly of the sex trade in THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. Now, the subject is violation of Sweden's constitution by a shadowy group. How can the media of which Blomkvist is such an integral part uncover and expose the corruption and the illegal activities that have gone unchecked for so long? Can Blomkvist cooperate with the horde of legitimate authorities also suddenly probing irregularities? Can he find a way to also communicate and work in tandem with Salander if she survives?

In my review of THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, I wondered whether the Salander/Blomkvist trilogy would conclude satisfactorily. I think it does. Many ongoing questions are resolved by the last page of THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST. There is closure of sorts. Still, after I'd finished the last sentence, I couldn't help wondering what Larsson might have presented to us had he lived and been able to write the ten books he apparently envisioned. I can readily see an arc that only began in this trilogy which could have deepened and strengthened the bond between the taciturn woman who looks like a child and thought she was in love with Blomkvist and the journalist who, as his sister says, " completely irresponsible when it comes to relationships. He screws his way through life and doesn't seem to grasp how much it can hurt those women who think of him as more than a casual affair." I would have liked to have witnessed that Salander/Blomkvist evolution. But the series does rest here at a natural stopping place, creating a decided contentment.
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on August 30, 2010
I felt strangely let down after reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The plot is simple: Lisbeth Salander is in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds while an old conspiracy is revived with the intent of burying her in order to cover up old crimes. However, several factors made this a rather unsatisfying read:

1) Not enough Lisbeth. Lisbeth is by far the most interesting character in these books. No one even comes close. Unfortunately, she is either absent from much of the narrative or merely passive. I understand that getting shot in the head can slow anybody down but her absence detracts from the interest of the story. It's only rather late in the game that she really gets going and the story really starts moving.

2) The Keystone Kops Konspiracy. I have a couple of problems with this conspiracy. First, its introduction requires far too much exposition, which brings the story to a stop. This should have been a more gradual process began in an earlier book. Second, the conspirators are just not that smart, or perhaps simply too old and sick. They always seem one step -or two- behind their opponents, which drains much of the tension from the story. If these guys are Sweden's best, no wonder the country chooses to remain neutral.

3) Too many perverts. You know, most of us go through our entire lives without once witnessing a man trying to murder his wife, or encountering a sadistic rapist-lawyer, or dealing with a vengeful stalker. Yet these are almost everyday occurrences to the characters in these books. In the current volume we find out that a character has thousands of images of child porn on his laptop. My reaction to finding this out was an eyeroll and thinking "Not another one!" Yeah, he's not a nice guy but still... The Sweden of these novels is a sewer of misogyny, depravity, hypocrisy and corruption. Nothing like the enlightened Social Democratic paradise of legend. I'm glad I don't live there.

4) Too long. Frankly, the whole "Erika at the newspaper" subplot was unnecessary and seemed like padding.

So why three stars? Well, the book remained a compulsive page-turner despite the problems. The character of Lisbeth Salander is one of the most fascinating in modern fiction. And it's nice to see things wrapped up, more or less. Although who knows, perhaps the legendary fourth book will one day see the light of day. Until then, ciao Lisbeth!
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