The Network: A Novel

The Network: A Novel

by Jason Elliot


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In this bold novel, Jason Elliot illuminates the dark recesses of the intelligence community during a crucial moment in history: the struggle to avoid a terrorist attack. Based on real characters and drawing on the author's extensive firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, the novel follows ex-army officer Anthony Taverner, recruited by the British Intelligence Service to help destroy a cache of American Stinger missiles loose in Afghanistan-before they fall into al-Qaeda's hands. This is a thriller of rare authenticity, providing sustained insight into influences surrounding 9/11 and raising questions about the role of intelligence agencies in historical events deliberately hidden from the public eye.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608198467
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 07/17/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jason Elliot is a notable, prize-winning travel writer, whose works include An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award, and Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran. The Network is his first novel.

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Network 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Asata on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fair first effort--a little disjointed, weak in transitions, but pretty engrossing given the level of detail and inside information on Afghanistan and other special forces info.
pmarshall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just months before 9/11 Anthony Taverner is recruited by MI 6 to destroy millions of dollars worth of missiles in Afghanistan to prevent they from being used by al-Qaeda. Taverner and his partner H undergo strenuous physical training, repetitive handling of weapons so they become a part of them and the gathering of information and the supplies they will need for the operation. The majority of the novel focuses on these preparations and the actual mission is almost an after thought.Learning to be a spy, a terrorist is hard work and I found the details of this most interesting. It is a world where what you hear may be the truth but chances are it is not, even when spoken by people on your side. This is nicely demonstrated by a side visit to Sudan that Taverner under takes to learn more about Bin Laden from his sister-in-law.Who is really in charge? The men at MI 6, the CIA representative in Washington, the CIA own the missiles? Or is it the elderly Baroness in London.It took some perseverance to get into the novel but after the first 35 pages I was hooked. It is unlike other espionage novels I have read but I did enjoy it, learn from it and recommend it.This was a book I received through Early Reviewers.
coker74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jason' Elliott's first novel should really appeal to the military men and women and those that like plenty of detail in their books. I felt like I was back in the Army again. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of Afghanistan and the twist of romance brought the book to the "good read" level.
sherman1951 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's five months before September 11, 2001 when we meet Anthony Taverner in Jason Elliot's first novel, The Network. Taverner is a retired army officer who is recruited by MI6 for the CIA to destroy $10 million worth of Stinger missiles in storage in Afghanistan and left over from the war with the Soviet Union a decade earlier. Of course, this missiles were originally supplied by the CIA. While it is a good basic story about pre-9-11 terrorism and Elliot (as a prizewinning travel writer) has a great descriptive talent, several times we are detoured that can be off-putting to the overall story line. Pages are devoted to an apparent kidnapping as well as a love interest and a trip to Yemen that don't seem to add much to his effort to locate the missiles and destroy them before the fall in the hands of the al-Qaeda. Taverner's travails with his ex-wife don't seem to lead to any place of value either other than placing some human dimension to the character. Elliot does a good job of incorporating into the story line Bin Laden and Ahmad Shad Massoud (the Afghan military leader who was assassinated by Bin Laden on September 9, 2011) that add depth, realism, and context to the ¿war¿ on terrorism. Overall, it is a good read and his portrayal of the duplicity of the intelligence community make it a worthwhile addition to a library for those enjoying this genre.
WillyMammoth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Elliot's debut novel, "The Network." It's set just a few months before 9/11 and is about an ex-British army captain recruited by MI6 to destroy a cache of Stinger Missiles in Afghanistan. The story itself is quite intriguing, and Elliot really shines with his descriptions of the various lands--even the English countryside--that his main character visits. You can tell why Elliot has excelled as a travel writer, because his grasp of imagery and sense of setting are impeccable. With the language and metaphors he uses, he is able to paint a vivid picture in the mind's eye. The tactics and characters and little bits of spycraft the author includes also make the story seem very authentic.That isn't to say, however, that the book didn't have its problems. They were minor problems of execution, and it showed that this was Elliot's first novel. The narrative itself was messy. It starts out with the main character (Anthony Traverner) on an escape and evade exercise, then jumps back several months, then jumps forward again. There are several little plot seeds that never go anywhere (though I suppose you could say that they point toward a more realistic narrative). And the title of the book ("The Network") is a bit misleading, as the Network referenced in the story didn't have that great an influence on the events in the story. I mean, sure, The Network played its part, but the story wasn't really about said Network. It was about Traverner's mission.Some of the events in the book also seemed disjointed with tennuous bearing on the rest of the narrative. For instance, Traverner is tapped to cultivate a French/Sudanese woman as an informant and falls in love with her. Then he finds out that MI6 was already using her for an informant and just wanted him to confirm their intel, but they don't tell him anything about it until the Sudanese secret police spirit her away and he gets royally pissed. After confronting his superior about the deception, there's hardly a word said about his love interest for the rest of the story. Plus, the intel received from her has nothing to do with the final operation at the end of the book. Therefore it appears that the entire episode with this other woman is simply there to give the main character a love interest and fill up space.Even though the book was flawed in some respects, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. In my eyes, that's the best marker of a good book. Did you have fun reading it? Was it an entertaining story? Then the author succeeded. And "The Network" certainly fit that bill. Despite my complaining in the paragraphs above, I still felt deserved a 4 star rating.
erin1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jason Elliot is first a travel writer which comes through in his lush descriptions of Afghanistan. The Network takes place a few months before 9-11 and centers around former British Army officer Anthony Taverner being recruited for a secret mission to recover and destroy missiles. Of course, Anthony is reluctant, conflicted and ultimately just wants to be left alone to putter around his country garden but he is pulled back in as he attempts to redeem himself and find his best friend who may still be alive. Elliot goes into detail about spy training and all the fun gadgets but, although a quick read, the plot tends to get off course a little and I found myself confused about the timelines and the acronyms were distracting. I had to keep reminding myself what they meant. However, the little details-the silk maps, food descriptions- help propell the story and he deftly weaves in history lessons and cultural explanations. You can tell Elliot is in love with this country because it comes through in his writing. An exciting book by a talented writer and I look forward to his next novel.
bartsy123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Within Jason Elliot's first book "An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan" it is clear Elliot loves the people and culture of Afghanistan. Based on Jason Elliot's second book "The Network" it's also clear that Elliot enjoy writing military covert ops, James Bond-style thrillers. Unfortunately the merging of these two interests really did not result in a blockbuster read. Actually, at times, the book feels as if it was written by two different people. The descriptions of Afghanistan are extremely poetic. Here is an example from Page 289:"Beyond the dust we can see the long chains of peaks to the north and south of the city. It's late spring now and the mountains are draped in ice on their upper ridges, and lower down their snow-filled gulleys resemble the camouflage of a killer whale." On the other hand, the endless descriptions of guns, battles, military plans and strategies drone on incessantly throughout the book. Here is a one random sample from Page 84:"Despite sustained fire from the BATT house, the Adoo then breached the perimeter wire, and were close enough to begin throwing grenades into the gun pit. Labalaba, after slamming a final shell in the breech of the gun, fell to an Adoo bullet." Predictably, the book also contains the ubiquitous "spy guy love affair with the forbidden woman." As I read this book, I had two main thoughts. First, it struck me that this book might be a great entry into a reading genre that I would call "Summer Beach Reading for Men." It's a quick read that's sure to entertain a vacationer looking for some masculine reading. And secondly, this book will probably be coming soon to a theater near you. It's filled with all of the elements Hollywood loves and should make an interesting movie. I recieved this book complimentary from Library Thing as part of their Early Reviewers program, but the opinion is all mine.
ANeumann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story jumped around a little from place to place but was well worth the read. The detail given by the author of the surroundings was very compelling. I really enjoyed this novel and its characters and I hope this series is continued.
frogprof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book -- found it almost un-put-down-able! I finished it in two nights of "I'm staying up to 3 a.m. because I just CAN'T stop at the next chapter" ... good thing I'm single! It's set in the days just prior to 9/11, and I kept waiting for "that" to happen ... luckily I was "disappointed." I don't think I could have handled another rehash of coulda-woulda-shoulda. This novel, while other reviewers didn't see it so much as an action thriller, seemed very much so to me. The narrator/main character, "Ant" Taverner, finds himself recruited by MI6 to go into Afghanistan to destroy some Stinger missiles that the CIA had left behind years ago. But before he can go, Ant has to be retrained in undercover and weapons techniques (he's ex-Army), and the training is conducted by an old friend. Once they get in-country, the descriptions of the land and the people almost made me want to go there ... ALMOST. The author, Jason Elliott, is an award-winning travel writer who has already written non-fiction books on Afghanistan and Iran, and his first-hand knowledge of the area shines through. I can't wait for his next novel, if it's anything like this one.
gmmakela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Network" by Jason Elliot. A pre-9/11 spy/adventure novel set in Afghanistan. While normally avoiding "first person" viewpoint novels, I was 150 pages into this book, before I even noticed. The author paints a very personal account, with vivid characters. One gets into the mindset of a reluctant, but capable spy, thrust into the world changing climate of Afghanistan. Behind the scenes politics and back door deals at many levels provide some insights into what Terrorism is really about. This book is a great read!
maneekuhi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good spy story. Liked locales in Afghanistan and the Sudan. Felt very much in the setting as I read the story. Several times I put the book down and took a look at Flickr photos of places and environment being described - take a look at "haboob" on Flickr. Couldn't get a real picture in my mind though of what the protagonist is like, felt I knew more about supporting characters, and there were three particularly interesting ones. This avoided becoming an action thriller thank God, and it took a while to get to the climactic passages but that was fine. There is a secret organization of concerned officials and that seemed to me to be a bit hokey; I much prefer Len Deighton's treatment of having some "retired" directors and assistants keeping their hand in. Also the timeline confused me and that was probably my fault - I kept expecting the story to be brought forward to current times and it stayed pretty much where it started, in the few months pre 9/11. This has the feel of a series debut, and I would certainly read book #2. Not the equal of the best from Le Carre, Deighton, and Littell, but close - and the same can't be said of some of the current stuff from Littell and Le Carre.
bjmitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This thriller offers much more than the usual fare. Written by a travel writer who knows Afghanistan well, this is an authoritative look at that mysterious land and its people. Its hero, Anthony Taverner, is also more than the usual thriller hero. Taverner has depth. He has a friend he would die for, a lovely romance, and a brotherhood with the man who trains him for his mission in Afghanistan. There is also a great balance between action and calm, violence and beauty, planning and intrigue. Great characters, wonderful scenery, this book has it all. I truly enjoyed the book and hope there will be more following this inventive first novel.
ricksbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After having just wrapped up a Frederick Forsyth novel, I was excited to pick up The Network on the Early Reviewers program (especially since a jacket blurb compared the writing favorably to Forsyth's). And while I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the hero's training, I found the overall pace of the book to be slow and the plot a bit jumpy. In fact, I recall having but 50 pages to go and wondering, "how is he going to wrap this up?"I also found that the first-person architecture of the narrative was a sort of throttle on the plot, as nothing could move forward without the hero observing it.In summary, while the book didn't pull me in like the work of other writers, I found its contemporary setting and extreme detail to be quite compelling.
2wildravens on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Impressive first work for Jason Elliot..The Network is fun & entertaining & informative. To quote the main character British intelligence operative Ant, "..a secret can enliven one's life or poison it...". Yep, that sounds right! Mr. Elliot writes in a sharp and witty manner and I'm watching for his next novel!
thejazzmonger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. In addition to being an action-packed military/spy thriller, it taught me quite a bit about espionage tactics. We track along with former SAS operative Anthony Taverner as he is pulled back into covert service for a mission into Afghanistan. The book is packed with details on methods of secret communication, weaponry, and the intricacies of trying to enter areas of Afghanistan that are under the control of the Taliban. I like it when I get a little education along with a good read.The title refers to a shadowy cabal of international power-brokers and "meddlers in history," represented here in the form of an aged British aristocrat referred to simply as "The Baroness." Elliott leaves it to us decide for ourselves whether we like the idea of such meddling.This is not a story that "gets you from the opening page." It takes a little work to get through the first thirty pages, or so. It is disjointing and confusing, and grisly, but intentionally so, I think. This is because Taverner is confused, in flight and undergoing some strenuous deprivation and torture. Early on, he can't explain what is going on because he has no idea, himself. We are meant to share his sense of disorientation.But, I have found that many of the books I most enjoyed took a while to catch hold. What matters is that the whole of the story is a satisfying payoff. I am not as fond of storytelling in the first-person present tense, as we find here, but I think that is probably more of a personal peccadillo than a flaw in the story. I give it a good thumbs up, especially for those who would like to know something of what the last few years have been like for the Afghanis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
headhunterIA More than 1 year ago
Would not recommend this book, I really tried to read it but could not. Almost like a narrative, very boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful novel! The author has blended the curent affairs with fiction so well it feels like im reading an interesting real life covert op. The training part, the characters playing an equally important roles are very nicely blended and is more interesting to read. The relationship building between H and the protoganist is perfect. This novel is on par with david ignatius novels.
OregonAnthrop More than 1 year ago
I loved Elliot's AN UNEXPECTED LIGHT and consider it one of the most authentic and engaging accounts available on the "real" Afghanistan. This novel, however, makes only limited use of Elliot's knowledge and travels (in Iran as well as Afghanistan) and is not a particularly exciting or illuminating spy narrative. I struggled through it, hoping (and until the end, still believing) that Elliot's insights and wisdom would shine through. But in the end there are about 10 worthwhile pages, at most, and the rest is better done by Hollywood blockbusters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Billjr13 More than 1 year ago
I can highly recommend Jason Elliot's new novel The Network. He has created a richly detailed novel based in reality that is truly compelling to read. It is a spy thriller that speaks with vivid description and distinctive authenticity of someone who lived there. It really has it all, seemingly authentic tradecraft, espionage, deceit, betrayals, religion, international affairs, exploitation, romance and friendships, all tested to the very limit. The Network is well written with a complex plot, plenty of suspense, wonderful depiction of locations and even a little romance. On the eve of 9/11, Former army officer and Gulf War veteran Captain Anthony Taverner is living a quiet life in the English countryside. But his intimate knowledge of Afghanistan and his knowledge of explosives haven't gone unnoticed. Taverner is recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service for a mission in Afghanistan: to infiltrate a fort in Taliban-held territory and destroy a cache of the CIA's stinger missiles before they fall into the hands of Al Qaeda. Soon he finds himself moving into secret worlds; from the tunnel complex beneath SIS HQ in London's Vauxhall Cross, to the CIA's bin Laden tracking station at Langley. At first, it seems likes a straightforward mission. But Taverner has a secret past of his own which he must conceal from even his closest allies. H, a former SAS man and security expert, is methodical, focused and supremely fit, and spends months training "Ant" in a range of 'useful' and potentially deadly skills. He will also accompany Taverner on the Op. They will destroy the fort together. But just what is the Network? What does the Baroness know about their mission? And how will all this affect history, and change the political landscape forever? As the dangerous trail leads from the pirate-haunted coast of Sudan and the company of beautiful Jameela, bin Laden's sister-in-law, to the war-torn streets of Kabul, Taverner is forced to confront the fears that belong to his most secret past.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
The Network promises much more than it delivers. We are led to believe that a former ops expert in Afghhanistan is being called out of retirement to conduct a mission that he is the only suitable person for. In the process, he faces double loyalties, both to his employer and this shadowy network that consists, mostly as we can tell, of an 86 year old lady. Promised is lots of action and ethical conflict; delivered is a detailed preparation for the op, which is not uninteresting, and then a very short tale of the op itself. The Network never plays a big part in the story, and the reader, like the operative, is left waiting in the desert- I guess for a taxi. A most unsatisfying ending for a mediocre novel.