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A Gentleman's Game: A Queen & Country Novel Mass Market Paperback – July 26, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Queen & Country Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by his Eisner Award–winning Queen & Country graphic novel series, the author of the adrenaline-charged Atticus Kodiac thrillers (Critical Space) offers up this British cloak-and-dagger hardcover introducing Tara Chace, an intrepid, relentless female assassin. In a coolly orchestrated terrorist raid chillingly reminiscent of September 11, a well-trained trio of al Qaeda–linked fanatics bomb London subway trains at three major stations, killing 372. In retaliation, Minder One (the head assassin of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligent Service) Tara Chace is given the assignment of killing Dr. Faud bin Abdullah al-Shimmari, a Saudi Arabian religious leader. She can't undertake an operation inside Faud's high-security Saudi homeland, but when the Mossad gets involved on a mission of its own, the hit is scheduled to take place on Yemeni soil. In a bit of bad luck, Chace completes her primary mission with a daring hit on Faud inside the Great Mosque, but ignites international outrage when she blows away a Saudi prince, too. As a result, her queen and countrymen betray her, and she is forced to flee with one final chance to avoid being sacrificed as a pawn in a worldwide political chess game. Though a trifle muddled by bureaucratese, the novel's superb pacing, offbeat characters, wry plot twists and damning insight into oily schizoid Middle Eastern diplomacy add up to an engrossing read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is a little tricky, so pay attention. This novel is based on Rucka's comic-book series, Queen & Country, which was in turn inspired by (or perhaps directly based on) a 25-year-old British television series called The Sandbaggers. The comic-book series chronicles the adventures of Tara Chace, a Special Intelligence Service agent (otherwise known as a minder or a sandbagger) who takes on dangerous missions for the British government. In the novel, she is tasked with the assassination of the mastermind behind a series of terrorist attacks that took the lives of more than 300 British citizens. The relationships between some of Rucka's characters mirror the relationships between similar characters in the TV series, and there are even scenes in the novel that are very much like scenes in episodes of the series. Also like the series, the novel is as much about the political machinations behind a mission as it is about the mission itself, and Rucka does an excellent job of building the tension and suspense. It's a story about people whose lives are controlled--and often sacrificed--by government officials whose decisions are always politically motivated. There are echoes of le Carre here, to be sure, although the tone is less cerebral. Those who know The Sandbaggers will be intrigued, but the novel will also interest anyone with a taste for classic British espionage. A sequel would be most welcome. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Queen & Country (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553584928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553584929
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel H. Bigelow VINE VOICE on September 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Greg Rucka is spinning a series of novels off his Oni Press comic-book series about adventure, personal lives, and office politics in the British secret service. His first effort, A Gentleman's Game, promises well for the venture, and it is interesting to see how the characters translate from the graphic format to the prose novel.

Rucka's great strength is in creating flawed yet highly compelling characters. His protagonist, the intense and deadly Tara Chace, made a terrific spy in the comics and easily carries the lesser burden she shoulders in the novel, where one of the villains -- a British citizen turned terrorist, equally compelling -- gets nearly equal time. The novel also follows Tara's bitter, hostile, chain-smoking, gold-hearted boss, the great Paul Crocker, as he does his best to navigate the treacherous shoals of intelligence office politics to clear the way for his agents. New characters, like an amusing pair of Israeli spymasters, and old favorites from the comics like Tom Wallace and the stolid Poole, are equally interesting and welcome.

Rucka has a deep knowledge of his subject, and while his descriptions of weapons can become tiresome (he's the kind of guy who knows, and thinks we have to know, how many foot-pounds of pressure people put on triggers and the brand name every gun anyone has), his acronym-laden spy jargon is convincing and adds flavor to the text.

Rucka may always be a better comic book writer than novelist because he seems weakest when he describes places, people, and action -- things an artist can easily cover him on. But even at his weakest, he is perfectly adequate, and much of this book finds him at his best.
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Format: Hardcover
Greg Rucka has been making a name for himself in the suspense genre for several years with his series of novels involving the enigmatic Atticus Kodiak. Rucka, however, is arguably best known to readers of sequential art collections (that would be comic books to you, fan boy!). He has been toiling mightily in that area for some years now, working on such A-list characters as Superman, Batman, Grendel, Wolverine and Wonder Woman. He has made what is arguably his greatest contribution to that genre with his own creation, a series of graphic novels titled QUEEN & COUNTRY, which involve the inner workings of a branch of a British intelligence agency. It is from the latter that A GENTLEMAN'S GAME, Rucka's latest novel, is drawn.

The focus of A GENTLEMAN'S GAME is Tara Chace, Minder One for The Division of Operations. She is, in less polite terms, an assassin, who is very good at what she does, which is to take out the bad guys --- the terrorists, who have the destruction of Great Britain on their minds and in their hearts. Chace does her job well and finds herself being offered up as a sacrificial lamb by the very agency, and country, to which she has sworn loyalty. Rucka deftly guides his reader through a complex plot, where agents are considered to be expendable commodities.

One of the more fascinating characters here, as in the QUEEN & COUNTRY books, is Paul Crocker, Director of Operations and Chace's superior officer. Crocker is a political animal who somehow maintains a balancing act between protecting the interests of Great Britain and those of his agents, even while one goal is at odds with the other. While one may occasionally differ with Rucka's worldview, he has a canny vision with respect to the manner in which the world ultimately works.
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Format: Hardcover
Besides being known as a comic writer, Greg Rucka also has a career as a novelist, best known for his Atticus Kodiak thrillers. So it makes a certain amount of sense for him to combine his two worlds by writing a novel based on his creator-owned Queen & Country series. This presents us then with two questions: How does A Gentleman's Game work as a spy thriller, and how does it work as an extension of the comic book?

As a spy thriller, it works very well indeed. As the main protagonist, Tara Chase is a great character, highly competant but flawed. The plot is a doozy: following a terrorist attack on the London subway system, Tara's SIS section is called upon to retaliate against the terrorists. I won't spoil the plot any further, except to say that there are a couple of great twists that come just at the right time and are as logical as they are surprising. In fact, one of the greatest joys of the novel is that none of the characters have to act like idiots in order for the story to work. While characters may make bad decisions, they are not stupid decisions. I have no idea how accurate the details and settings of this novel are, but it certainly has the feel of authenticity and that Rucka has done his homework. His prose is detailed but doesn't get bogged down, and he can write action as well as the quieter moments. Given that this is based on a comic with which a majority of the readers will be unfamilar, there is a good deal of info-dumping in the first 50-100 pages to get things set up, but it is integrated into the plot and never feels like a plot summary.

A Gentleman's Game also works well as the next chapter for the Queen & Country series.
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