Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Jeffrey Archer's newest saga, Mightier Than The Sword is a busy novel set at the time when Harold Wilson's Labour Party was in office in England. There are several themes going on at the same time teeming with quite a mix of issues including betrayal, board room shenanigans and insider trading, romance, British politics, back stabbing, vengeance, adultery, a book written by a Russian author imprisoned in Siberia because he wrote about the brutality of Joseph Stalin, and even a trial concerning alleged libel.
In the opening chapter Archers takes his readers back to October of 1964 and focuses on an IRA attack on a British cruise ship during its maiden voyage which could have resulted in its sinking but fortunately was prevented just in the nick time causing little damage.
Emma Barrington, the chairman of the board of Barrington shipping and the owners of the ship, decides to cover up the incident, however this does not prevent some of the passengers from inquiring about various rumours concerning a loud noise that was heard in the middle of the night.
Just when you believe that Archer will keep his focus on this aspect of the novel, he moves onto other themes which are far more interesting particularly concerning Emma's husband Harry, who has just been elected the new president of English PEN and is determined to have a fellow author, Anatoly Babakov, who was Stalin's English interpreter and who had authored a book entitled Uncle Joe, released from a prison in Siberia. As we are to discover, Harry is quite courageous and travels to Russia to accomplish his objective even if it means putting his own life in danger.
Archer also introduces his readers to Lady Virginia Fenwick, a member of the board of Barrington shipping and who detests Emma, and who by the way is Emma's ex-sister-in-law as she was married to Emma's brother, Sir Giles Barrington. Virginia is determined to see Emma removed from the board and will go to great lengths to accomplish her mission. Incidentally, Virginia is suing Emma for libel pertaining to Emma's statements concerning Virginia that were made during a board meeting and entered into the company's minutes. Towards the end of the novel, Archer devotes considerable ink to a very intriguing trial.
Then we have the story of Harry and Emma's son Sebastian who turns out to be quite a smooth operator when it comes to business however when he makes a fatal mistake in not honoring a promise he made to someone to close a deal, his financée, an American beauty, Samantha Ethel Sullivan dumps him. Sebastian is devastated and Archer does have some surprises for his readers in the latter chapters concerning Samantha and Sebastian.
Not to be ignored is Emma's brother Giles, who is a minister of the crown and who has his sight on an even higher post in the government, that is until he travels to Berlin where he falls madly in love with a woman who we are not sure if she is a spy or not. Doesn't this sound like some of the British scandals of bygone years?
Although the narrative may appear to be quite an exhaustive journey, nonetheless, Archer, at the end, is able to pull it all together leaving his readers quite satisfied. The voices of his intriguing cast of characters are always utterly engaging, even when we may dislike some of them. And the real magic in Archer's writing is his imaginative range and page-turning momentum that casts a spell making his readers eager to find out how each of the themes will play out, and I can assure you, you will be in for quite a few surprises.