In the first Bourne (The Bourne Identity (Bourne Trilogy, Book 1)) we meet the mysterious assassin Jason Bourne as he struggles to recover his memory and combat his arch enemy international terrorist Carlos the Jackal. In the second Bourne (The Bourne Supremacy (Bourne Trilogy, Book 2)) we learn more about Bourne's past as he recovers it upon his return to the Far East where we are introduced to Medusa, the secret American cabal of military and intelligence secrets and spies that drove Bourne to the edge of insanity. I rated each of those books four stars for their action-filled if somewhat wordy narratives.
In the final book of the trilogy, Carlos meets Medusa (now a far reaching financial and political conspiracy)and the Mafia as they battle Bourne with the assistance and hindrance of the Russians, the French, the Caribbean, and the kitchen sink.
The "Ultimatum" is delivered with all the conciseness of James Michener. The action narrative is buried in stopping and starting too many story lines with too much explanation and too many characters. The Mafia storyline is the biggest mistake, replete with clumsy stereotypes and racist ethnic caricatures that would have been out of place in a book written in the 1950s.
Even Jason Bourne himself is not very likable, as Ludlum paints him as aging and insecure, and his insecurity and mental instability between Bourne and his alter ego David Webb come across as angry, arrogant, and short-tempered. In the end, he wins, of course, and all is well. Along the way, the action is good when it is allowed to flow, and the goodwill Ludlum and his characters banked in the first two books propels the reader through to the end, but with one star less than I rated the first two books.
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Todd Stockslager (TStocksl)
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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The literary faults and stylistic excesses that characterized The Icarus Agenda , The Gemini Contenders and other of Ludlum's works are present in his latest mammoth thriller, but fans will nonetheless cheer the return of his most popular character, David Webb, aka Jason Bourne, the assassin who never was. When the international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal penetrates his civilian identity, Webb must again assume the Bourne persona to protect his wife and small children. In their renewed struggle, the two master assassins uncover the revived existence of Medusa, the sinister alliance that originally led to the establishment of the Bourne identity. In action that moves from the U.S. to Montserrat to Paris before concluding in Moscow, Bourne and his allies prove incredibly inept, barely escaping the Jackal's traps and failing in their repeated attempts to ambush him. The Ludlum trademarks are present: improbable bloodbaths, repetitive action, stilted and off-the-point conversations and--most annoying--the use of italicized words or entire paragraphs to simulate passion. This is formula writing that delivers even less than its meager promise. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.