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Metal Gear Solid 2: The Novel: Sons of Liberty Paperback – November 24, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Between 1996 and 2002, Raymond Benson was commissioned by the James Bond literary copyright holders to take over writing the 007 novels. In total he penned and published worldwide six original 007 novels (including Zero Minus Ten, Never Dream of Dying, The Man with the Red Tattoo), three film novelizations, and three short stories. An anthology of his Bond work, entitled The Union Trilogy, was published in October 2008. Benson's book The James Bond Bedside Companion, an encyclopedic work on the 007 phenomenon, was first published in 1984 and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award by Mystery Writers of America for Best Biographical/Critical Work. Benson has also written non-Bond novels: Face Blind (2003), Evil Hours (2004), and Sweetie's Diamonds (2006). The Pocket Essentials Guide to Jethro Tull was published in 2002. Using the pseudonym "David Michaels," Benson is also the author of the NY Times best-selling books Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (2004) and its sequel Tom Clancy's Splinter CellOperation Barracuda (2005). Benson's latest venture is an original series of "rock 'n' roll thrillers." The first title was A Hard Day's Death, published in April 2008. The sequel, Dark Side of the Morgue, was published in March 2009. He is also the author of the sixth "Gabriel Hunt" adventure novel, Hunt Through Napoleon's Web.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

"The Hudson River . . . We had classified intelligence that a new type of Metal Gear was scheduled for transport. The whole thing stank, but our noses have been out in the cold too long . . ."

Solid Snake stood on the middle of the George Washington Bridge in the torrential downpour, overlooking the water below. The tanker U.S.S. Discovery was approaching and nearly at Snake's "Point of No Return." Snake looked out from under the hooded rain poncho and eyed the traffic on the bridge moving in both directions. Just headlights. No other figures on the walkway. If any people in vehicles saw him, they'd think he was just another suicide statistic. No cause for alarm.

That thought made Snake smile wryly.

Visibility was close to zero due to the heavy rain and high winds. The tanker was just a big, black shape moving along the river.

Time to go.

Snake unzipped the poncho and shrugged it off of his body, revealing the dark sneaking suit that was his trademark uniform, the same old gear he had used during the Shadow Moses affair two years earlier. The uniform showed signs of repair in several places, and there were no protectors in place. Snake was armed only with a Beretta, worn on a hip holster.

He adjusted the goggles over his face, careful not to disturb the signature blue bandana that was also as much a part of his body as the black hair on his head and stubble on his face. Snake checked the small parachute's harness and confirmed that it was snug. He then shimmied up the slippery supports using gloves that were made of special fabric that induced friction even when wet. He climbed onto the rail, stood upright, found his balance, and stretched out his arms to prepare for the dive.

The Discovery's deck moved into position directly below the bridge.

Snake leaped off and the AOD-Automatic Opening Device-caused the stealth parachute to blossom across his back. From that point on he was invisible to radar, sonar, and the naked eye, although the sheets of rain streamed off the parachute wings and drew its outline in the night sky. But no one would notice.

As graceful as a seagull, the former FOXHOUND operative managed to avoid the gusty effects of the wind and glided safely to the ship's deck. He landed lightly in a crouching position, facing the ship's stern. The impact of the landing rendered the stealth camo ineffective, so Snake was forced to deactivate the stealth function and become visible. He cut himself loose from the parachute and attached the wings to the filament on his back. The parachute, fragile as an angel's wings, sat on the filament and tightened with the ship's movement-its other end was tethered to the bridge railing high above. When the wire was fully taut, Snake released the gear; it disappeared into the murky black sky, carried off by the filament. The retractor reeled in the parcel and the pack came to rest unseen in the safety of the bridge.

The helicopter pilot struggled with the controls but kept the aircraft steady as it hovered over the bridge and the tanker below. The storm made it extremely difficult, but the pilot was a good one. He had to be, considering who his passenger was.

The man in the seat behind him had night-vision binoculars to his eyes and was focused on the tanker's deck.

"Our boy is right on schedule," he said. Involuntarily, he drew the six-shooter from the holster on his belt and twirled it in his left hand, gunslinger-style. Just as quickly, he shoved the revolver back into the holster and then reached up to twist his long mustache. His long yellow-white hair came down to his shoulders. He had often been told he resembled the legendary General George Custer, something he considered a compliment. After all, Custer had been a valiant, brave soldier of the U.S. Cavalry.

Revolver Ocelot watched Snake stand on the tanker deck. He lowered the binoculars and then spoke into his cellphone, "He'll know soon enough."

Snake moved behind the windlass and activated his Codec. He punched in the memorized frequency on the device around his wrist and waited for the face of his partner to appear on the Codec's screen.

"This is Snake. Do you read me, Otacon?"

The Codifying Satellite Communication System incorporated anti-wiring coding, digital real-time burst communication, sonar utilization, and radar. Normal communication was instantly codified, compressed, and transmitted in a burst of one microsecond in length. However, Snake could receive it in real time, unscrambled and decoded. The nanomachines in his body received the transmission and stimulated the small bones of his ear so that no one would hear the sound but Snake. And he could contact his partner with a speed-dial button corresponding to a code frequency. If necessary, he didn't need the actual Codec on his wrist. The nanomachines could provide a conduit for conversation in his head, hands free.

"Loud and clear, Snake." Otacon, aka Dr. Hal Emmerich, was probably the closest thing to a "best friend" that Snake had. They had met during the Shadow Moses ordeal and since then had been working together. Although he was younger than Snake, Emmerich's brains and science background were the perfect pairing to the operative's more physical approach to things.

"Kept you waiting, huh? I'm at the sneak point," Snake said.

"Everything going okay?"

"The stealth camo's busted. Landing impact."

"We must have overused it. Sorry, but you're going to have to deal with it. You're not in the military anymore."

"Right. I didn't plan on relying on this gadget anyway," Snake said with not a little sarcasm in his voice.

"Hey, the private sector's not so bad, is it? Privacy guaranteed!"

"I'm happy as long as no one gives me any more unwanted gifts."

"You mean that thing with Naomi?" Otacon didn't have to bring up the fact that Snake was still carrying the FOXDIE virus that he had acquired during the Shadow Moses incident. Thanks to Naomi Hunter, FOXHOUND's chief medic at the time. Whether it had been for Snake's own good or not was still a question.

"And I can't say I miss the chattering nanny," Snake added.

"Oh, Mei Ling's not so bad."

Actually, Snake had found FOXHOUND's communications officer rather cute, a manga character come to life. She did talk a lot, though.

"That reminds me," Otacon continued. "I have to get in touch with her again about that new Natik flashware."

"Diverting toys from the SSCEN again? Give her a message from me. Someone will find out, sooner or later. She's better off assuming it's sooner and quit while she's safe."

"Too true. Okay, Snake, let's get to work."

Snake heard the faint sound of a helicopter. He looked up but couldn't see anything through the rain and darkness.

"You know how the technical specs of Metal Gear were sold on the black market after Shadow Moses?"

"All Ocelot's doing," Snake answered.

"Exactly. And now, every state, group, and dotcom has its own version of Metal Gear."

"Not exactly a classified weapon for today's nuclear powers." Snake still had dreams-and sometimes nightmares-about his encounter with the gigantic, mobile nuclear weapon-launching system that walked like a Transformer come to life.

"This new one seems to have been designed to wipe the floor with all the other models. The only consistent description is that it's an amphibious, anti-Metal Gear vehicle."

"And that explains why this one is under Marine Corps jurisdiction?"

"Right. The mission objective is to make visual confirmation of the new Metal Gear being transported by that tanker and bring back photographic evidence. But I want you first to go up to the top level of the infrastructure, to the bridge. That's Deck-E. We need to find out where the tanker is headed."

"A little reconnaissance, huh?"

"There's too much we don't know about this new prototype. Capabilities, deployment method-we don't even know how close it is to completion. If we know where the testing arena is, I can start to draw some reasonable conclusions."

"All right, I'll head to the bridge ASAP."

"Try to avoid confrontations! Our goal is to collect evidence on Metal Gear development and expose it to the world. It would be best if you could get out of there without alerting anyone."

"Don't worry. I know the drill. We're not terrorists."

"Very good. Don't you forget that you're part of Philanthropy now!" Snake could hear the pride in Otacon's voice. He mouthed the exact words as Otacon repeated them for the thousandth time. "We're an anti- Metal Gear organization and-"

"-and officially recognized by the U.N. I know! Recognized, but still fringe, Otacon."

"All right, all right. So, how's your gear?"

"Seems to have survived the jump."

"Your weapon is a tranquilizer gun converted from a Beretta M92F. It's a little hard to work with, because you'll have to reload after each shot since the slide locks."

"It's better than scavenging at the site. It's got a good suppressor, too."

"The chemical stun will take effect in a few seconds and last for hours. You can take down an elephant with that thing. The effects of the anesthetic round will vary depending on what part of the body is hit. We're talking about a difference of tens of seconds between hitting the limbs, chest, or head. Check out the laser sighting, too!"

Snake grunted his approval.

"As for the equipment . . . " Otacon did a quick scan of Snake's suit using the Codec sensors that were built into it. "Cigarettes? Snake! What's wrong with you?"

Snake shrugged. "It's kind of a lucky charm." With that, he immediately drew one out of the pack, lit it, and inhaled the smoke deeply. It relaxed him.

"You haven't read the Surgeon General's Warning, have you?"

"Drop it, Otacon."

Otacon shook his head and went on. "Okay, your digital camera works almost the same way as your old one. It's just a matter of a few images we need, so just use it to get us the evidence of the new Metal Gear."

Snake held the camera to his face and surveyed the tanker's superstructure and guard stations. A few maintenance workers dressed in rain gear were patrolling the second, fourth, and fifth decks of the crew's quarters. The camera's viewfinder zoomed in on the sentries.

"They don't look armed," Snake commented.

"Hey, Earth to Snake. These are nice, upstanding Marines, not terrorists. Don't get caught; you're in stealth mode from now on."

"Sure. But if it comes to that, a little beauty sleep never hurt anyone."

Snake moved the viewfinder to another sentry. The men did indeed appear to be wet, bored Marines that were unlucky to pull deck duty during the storm, although they were not dressed in uniform.

"By the way, Otacon, are you sure of this intelligence?"

"Absolutely. Hacked it out of the Pentagon's classified files myself."

"No traces?"

"Oh, please. I'm too good for that."

"We can't rule out the possibility that this is a trap. Remember, there's a price on our heads."

"You're just being paranoid."

"I hope so."

Snake continued to study the sentries. "Those men-you wouldn't think they were anything but civilians from here."

"With all the ships passing on the river and in the harbor, putting uniformed Marines on the deck would be a bad idea. People can get a clear view of the water from riverside, too. It's a classified operation, Snake. No one's supposed to know the Marines are on the tanker."

A flash of lightning illuminated the sky enough to give Snake a view of the Discovery's port side. "The waterline is too high," he said. "According to the navigational plans, this ship should have discharged its cargo upriver."

"That's because the new Metal Gear is in there," Otacon answered. "No doubt about it."

Snake didn't like it. As he looked around the deck, he felt as if something wasn't right. "The military trains you to watch for threats from the stern of a boat. That's SOP for counter-terror ops, too. Security should be tighter!"

"You worry too much."

"So where's the target?"

"Satellite surveillance is a major international pastime these days. I'd say it's in the cargo holds, safely below deck. Do you see the entrance to the holds?"

Snake swung the camera back to the superstructure. There were several doors on different levels above deck connected by staircases. "Looks like there are a few entryways into the crew quarters."

Then he heard it again-the distinct sound of a helicopter. Snake looked up, and this time he saw it, but it was too rainy and dark to be able to identify what kind of aircraft it was.

"A chopper!"

At that moment, a sudden movement to his right attracted his attention. He focused the camera in that direction and witnessed a sentry being attacked from behind. A hand clamped over the man's mouth and a knife smoothly slit the guard's throat. Snake watched in horror as the sentry slid to the deck amidst a spreading pool of blood. The killer was dressed in brown camouflage and headgear equipped with night-vision goggles. On his back was a boxy rucksack.

More movement to the upper left. Snake aimed the camera to Deck-B in time to see another camouflaged newcomer slice a crewman's throat.

"Uh . . . looks like we're not the only ones after Metal Gear tonight," Snake whispered.

"Is that a chopper I heard?"

"Affirmative. Probably another cavalry."

Snake searched for the other sentry he had seen earlier but saw yet a third camouflaged figure dragging the guard's body over the low deck railings. The killer rolled the corpse overboard. No one could hear the splash for the sound of the heavy rain.

"What's their game? Hijack?"

Otacon didn't know, but he ventured, "They're probably targeting the ship's controls."

"Otacon, how many men do you need to take over a tanker of this size?"

"The ship is run by a computer so . . . I'd say about eighteen people."

By now, several other camouflaged men had assembled on the superstructure area. Each one sported a machine gun, the stock extended and a silencer affixed to the muzzle.

"AKS-74u's," Snake said.

His eyes drew toward a mustached older man wearing a fur coat and fur hat giving orders to the soldiers. Snake didn't recognize him, but he thought the man to be in his late sixties. Even from Snake's position, the leader exuded a powerful, charismatic presence. The man seemed to be oblivious to the wind and rain and had a somewhat imperious attitude toward the rest of the men. Snake figured the guy had spent a lifetime in the military.

"Russians?" he whispered.

The leader barked a command into a radio. Snake was almost positive that was the language he heard.

"Are you sure?" Otacon asked.

"No Marine barber touched that head of hair."

Snake snapped a picture of the man. "I'm transmitting a photo. Let's get an ID on him ASAP."

"I'm on it."

Snake watched the men spread out over the superstructure. "Looks like the tanker's theirs now."

The sound of the helicopter grew louder. Snake looked up and saw the vehicle soar above him. The noise of its Fenestron-type tail rotor, which made a distinctly different sound in flight from other types of choppers, was familiar to Snake.

"KA-60. Kasatka," he said.

"Kasatka? Kamov chopper, right? A 'Killer Whale.'?"

This was more serious than Snake had planned on. He put the camera away and crouched low.

"Otacon, we need to get a fix on who they are."

"Judging by their transport, aren't they some kind of military commandos?"

"Not necessarily. That chopper could've been the KA-62, the civil model. I wasn't too sure."

Snake heard the uneasiness in Otacon's voice. "Look, Snake, all we need is the photographic evidence of Metal Gear. As long as we have it we can put it online and blow the whole thing wide open. So no pyrotechnics, okay? Leave 'em alone!"

"All right. I'll do my best."

"This isn't Shadow Moses. Reach me if anything happens. I'll be waiting just past the Verrazano Bridge. You need to be off that ship by then. Okay?"

"I'll be in touch."

Snake signed off and rubbed his chin.

Great, he thought. Sneak into a Marine tanker while it's being hijacked by Russian commandos, take a few pictures, and get out without being seen. No problem.

Best to get moving, do the job, and evacuate fast.

Snake moved out of his hiding place, trotted around to the port side of the superstructure, and encountered the back of a commando. He drew the Beretta, held it in both hands, and aimed. "Freeze," Snake ordered as quietly as he could. But the Russian turned. Snake squeezed the trigger. A tranquilizer hit the man

in the neck, the only part of his body that was exposed. The Russian dropped to the deck. Snake quickly reloaded the gun and then grabbed the sleeping commando by the arms. He dragged the man to the side of the railing and hid the body behind a lifeboat. Snake then moved to the first door he saw, which led to Deck-A.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345503430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345503435
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Hideo Kojima's Sons of Liberty is a beautiful and endearing story about finding your true identity and purpose in life and either following your life's chosen destiny or being brave enough to make your own.

...at least that's what one of the four people in the world who actually understands that game has told me.

For most of us, Sons of Liberty is either a highlight or the downfall in the series. The unanticipated introduction of Raiden gained some less than glowing comments from fans but didn't seem to affect the reviews of it from the media which were generally positive. Either way, it's so convoluted and wrapped up in eccentricities that instead of asking `Who is this Raiden kid and when do we get Snake back?' we should have been trying to figure out who the hell was going to explain this massive pile of intricacy to us.

This is where Raymond Benson's novelization of Sons of Liberty becomes handy.

(Uh, I'm going to warn for spoilers just for the hell of it but seriously...the game is 8 years old.)

Benson's adaptation, just as the game does, picks up about two years after the infamous events of Shadow Moses. Solid Snake, Otacon, and (loosely) Mei Ling have formed the NGO Philanthropy, an undecidedly respected organization focused on the elimination of the Metal Gear units that have been popping up like daisies due to the blueprints being mass produced and sold to anyone with enough money to buy them.

Information Otacon receives from an interestingly initialed informant called E.E. leads to Solid Snake hitching a ride Ethan Hunt style off the George Washington Bridge onto an oil tanker apparently carrying a Metal Gear unit in its holds.
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Format: Paperback
Right away, Raymond Benson manages to take the dramatic, cinematic intro to MGS2 and turn it into boring garbage wherein he pointlessly changes details in the game to the point where nothing makes any sense and is no longer cool.

"The Hudson River . . . We had classified intelligence that a new type of Metal Gear was scheduled for transport. The whole thing stank, but our noses have been out in the cold too long . . ." (Who's saying that? How did the editor not catch how this random nonsense line is said and then is never followed up by any others)
Solid Snake stood on the middle of the George Washington Bridge in the torrential downpour (THE torrential downpour, the only one, ever), overlooking the water below. The tanker U.S.S. Discovery (no commas? no "named"? this seriously could not have been edited by someone) was approaching and nearly at Snake's "Point of No Return." (proper noun) Snake looked out from under the hooded rain poncho (is there a goofier name to use than that?) and eyed the traffic on the bridge moving in both directions (he was overlooking the water and then instantly rotates without the narrator saying he did so that he could see cars moving in BOTH directions, hopefully not in the same lanes). Just headlights (no cars attached to them). No other figures on the walkway. If any people in vehicles saw him (why mention 'in vehicles'? the only people physically capable of being there now are himself and people in vehicles unless they're being driven by ghosts), they'd think he was just another suicide statistic. No cause for alarm (nobody is EVER alarmed by SUICIDES).
That thought made Snake smile wryly (Snake loves it when people are indifferent to suicide).
Visibility was close to zero due to the heavy rain and high winds. The tanker (what tanker?
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Very well written and a perfect novelization of an amazing title. No details are missed. In fact, in some ways the story is better told in the book than the game itself. Although I still do recommend playing the game as well. Hand in hand, with both, you can not go wrong. Especially not for this extremely low price.
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Just like the game in nearly every way. However, there seems to be no descriptions of environments meaning if you really want to know what is going on, you have to play the game first. Still, if you have played the game to completion before and feel like reliving it in another way, then this is worth the asking price.
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As someone who is a MASSIVE fan of the game Metal Gear Solid 2, I tend to keep my eye out for everything MGS2 related. A novelization sold on amazon for a couple bucks? "I'm in." Well, I just finished it this afternoon and my overall impression was that it was a decent read.

I did groan early on in the book, when the author referred to an enemy soldier as "the guy" twice in a single paragraph...but I'm happy to report the writing gets better - but it never gets "great". I wasn't a fan of Raymond Benson's style - he seemed to be a little too reliant on certain key words and was sometimes stiff in his narration. He also has a weird relationship with italicizing words that don't deserve it, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

But, all these complaints are petty in the big picture. Overall the book is strikingly true to the game, ESPECIALLY because all notable cutscenes and codec conversations are included word for word. Benson really had it easy in that respect, because at the very least 80% of the story is derived from these conversations, in my estimation.

So, even if you're a huge fan of MGS2 like I am, I'm happy to say that you likely won't find much issue with the novelization. Benson was essentially a messenger boy for Kojima on this project - that's not an insult, as anyone familiar with the series will know. The stories are so detailed and involved that they tend to tell themselves. I'd definitely recommend it - especially if you prefer to sort out a plot like this in written format, at your own pace. The story, as many know, can get complicated, and this novel helped me remember and re-affirm some of the plot points I had forgotten about.
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