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Prince of Fire [Mass Market Paperback]

Daniel Silva
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2006 Gabriel Allon Novels
Gabriel Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in terrorist hands that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist across a landscape drenched with generations of blood, the trail turning on itself until, finally, he can no longer be certain who is stalking whom. And when at last the showdown comes, it will not be Gabriel alone who is threatened with destruction - for it is not his history alone that has been laid bare.

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From Publishers Weekly

Silva's latest novel to feature art restorer/Israeli agent Gabriel Allon (after 2004's A Death in Vienna) is a passionate, intelligently crafted entry that cements the series' place among today's top spy fiction. The structure is classic - the semireluctant spy, Gabriel, is pulled from his cover to hunt down terrorists who have committed a horrific crime, in this case the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome. The mastermind behind the bombing is French archeologist Paul Martineau, aka "Khaled, son of Sabri, grandson of Sheikh Asad. Khaled, avenger of past wrongs, sword of Palestine." Orphaned as a child after his father is killed by the Israelis, Khaled is also the adopted son of Yasir Arafat, who has now activated Khaled to wreak vengeance on his mortal enemies. Gabriel assembles a team of crack young agents and sets out to find when and where Khaled will strike next. The determined team tracks down the terrorist, but when Gabriel goes in for the kill the plot takes a stunning twist; the lives of all, plus hundreds of innocent bystanders, are threatened. Gabriel is a complex character with a rich past. His wife, Leah, is confined to a psychiatric hospital in London, mentally damaged and physically disfigured from the bombing that killed their son. He lives with the beautiful Chiara, whom he can't marry out of loyalty to Leah, even though she seems to barely know him. Silva hints at further entries in the series in which Gabriel must step up and assume new duties: "Gabriel, you are the mightiest," his former mentor tells the agent. "You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment - the Prince of Fire."
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

Not long after an explosion in Rome destroys the Israeli embassy compound, a file linked to the terrorists behind the bombing surfaces; it contains a remarkably comprehensive account of the career of Gabriel Allon, including the date of his recruitment by the Israeli secret service. Living in Venice and about to embark upon the restoration of a priceless Rubens painting, Gabriel, a talented art restorer and a reluctant spy, must return to Israel and the auspices of the agency bureaucrats. He is assigned the task of identifying the bombers, which eventually results in a face-to-face meeting with Yassar Arafat, the man responsible for the death of Gabriel's child and the maiming of his wife some 10 years earlier. He suspects that Arafat is deeply connected to the Rome bomber, whom Gabriel believes is a third-generation terrorist who has been protected and schooled as a mastermind by Arafat himself. Along with the meticulously detailed plot, Silva, in his fifth Allon novel, provides a clear-eyed chronicle of the endless warfare between the Israelis and the Palestinians, who "for thirty years had been swimming together in the same river of blood." Operatives from both sides carry the same tragic stories of family members lost to battle or bombings, yet they remain single-mindedly devoted to their causes even as they grow weary of the bloodshed. In a story that seems ripped from the headlines, Silva delivers both chilling suspense and a thoughtful if grim history lesson. Joanne Wilkinson
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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First Sentence
THERE HAD BEEN WARNING SIGNS-THE SHABBAT bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left eighty-seven people dead; the bombing of an Istanbul synagogue, precisely one year later, that killed another twenty-eight-but Rome would be his coming-out party, and Rome would be the place where he left his calling card. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking man's adventure suspense novel Feb. 26 2005
If you are looking for intelligent action/adventure novel, then this 4th novel featuring the art restorer, Gabriel Allon is it. Those familiar with the earlier books will find this another satisfying read, and those new to it should check it out!

This time out Allon is called back into action by the Israeli intelligence - his old employer. The Israeli Embassy in Rome has been destroyed by a massive truck bomb, innocent people gunned down as they tried to flee. Over 50 brutally murdered! The Israelis obtain a computer disk from a terrorist in Milan, it has on information about Allon, his real Identity, Photos of him and his lover, and info about killings of Black September Members! The story takes off from here and I don't want to ruin any of the surprises or twists and turns!

The novel does include many characters from past novels, but I do not think it will prevent a new comer from enjoying this novel as a stand alone. In spite of the complexity of the subject matter, the writer has a clean narrative style that keeps the story easy to read and the suspense level high. Which is especially amazing considering all the sub plots! It is also interesting because the writer gives plenty of historical context to the history of the middle east conflict.
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By sydj
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon fan what can one say other than "It's great!"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Writer & Great Book! May 25 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book kept me waiting for what would happen next... had difficulty putting it down. I highly recommend the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Silva knows his stuff June 8 2006
By April
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a great intro to Daniel Silva, but if you haven't read The English Assassin, start there and work your way up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  335 reviews
129 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silva is superb. Feb. 22 2005
By E. Bukowsky - Published on
Daniel Silva has followed up his terrific trilogy with another outstanding novel. "Prince of Fire" brings back Gabriel Allon, a gifted art restorer and master spy who has settled down in Venice with the lovely Chiara, whom he hopes to marry. After a tempestuous life filled with tragedy and violence, Allon is trying to find the peace of mind that has thus far eluded him. A huge bomb destroys the Israeli embassy in Rome and sinks any hope that Allon can live a placid life free of bloodshed.

Ari Shamron, who is now seventy-five, was once the head of Israel's secret service and Gabriel's mentor. He is now a special advisor to Israel's prime minister. Shamron visits Gabriel in Italy and informs him that Palestinian terrorists have uncovered Gabriel's true identity and may be targeting him for assassination. He urges Gabriel to come out of retirement and lead a team that will hunt down a Palestinian mastermind named Khaled al-Khalifa. This man is believed to be responsible not only for the attack in Rome, but also for two earlier blasts in Buenos Aires and Istanbul that killed over one hundred Jews.

"Prince of Fire" is intricate, fast-paced, and absorbing. Without sermonizing or pontificating, Silva explores the politics of hatred in the Middle East. He skillfully traces the trail of terror that has left this region in a constant state of fear and mourning for so many years. As we have come to expect from Silva, he writes exciting, suspenseful, and unpredictable action sequences that contain fascinating details about how spies operate.

All of Silva's characters are well drawn, but Gabriel Allon is in a class by himself. He has suffered great personal losses from which he can never completely recover. Although he has repeatedly hunted down and slaughtered the enemies of his people, Gabriel remains a compassionate man who values human life. In this book, he is confronted with a terrifying moral dilemma, and one particular scene in which he must make a split-second, life or death decision is simply electrifying. "Prince of Fire" proves, once again, that Daniel Silva has mastered the art of writing espionage thrillers with intelligence, depth, and heart.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now THAT'S entertainment! March 31 2005
By Michael D. Trimble - Published on
An absolutely fabulous story and without a doubt the most enjoyable book I have read in a long time. Daniel Silva has proven once again that he is a gifted storyteller and one of the best at international espionage and intrigue.

This fascinating Silva book is another in the Gabriel Allon series. For those of you who don't know, Allon is the physically underwhelming yet world renowned art restorer, who lives a double life in the Israeli Intelligence Service. Once "activated" Allon has no peer as the secret protector of Israeli security. Allon finds the really bad guys, the ones that nobody else wants to track. Allon goes where all others fear to tread and brings the bad guys to justice, whether that means the justice of the court, the justice of some form of imprisonment, or the justice of the assassin's bullet.

In this book Allon reluctantly abandons his precious work in Vienna, at the Chapel of San Giavanni Crisostomo, where he has spent months on the restoration of a famous Bellini altarpiece. His mission is a search for the terrorist mastermind behind a recent horrific and deadly bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Rome. All indications are that there is much more death and destruction to follow, so Gabriel is in a rush to find this terrorist before he strikes again. Along the way he learns that the life of his target and his own life are inextricably interwoven. The chase, which does not disappoint, covers a lot of ground and takes the reader from Rome, to Venice, Cairo, London, Paris and Jerusalem, and along the way Silva gives a factual history lesson from 1910 to the present, on the struggles between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This history lesson alone is almost worth of the price of the book!

I have read the comparisons others have made to Silva's writing and I will add a comparison of my own. In Silva I see an early Ludlum. I certainly feel the same sort of thrill reading Silva that I did more than 25 years ago reading Ludlum. Silva's books are every bit as exciting, the plots are equal to or better than Ludlum when he was at his best. Silva has my unqualified recommendation; you simply can not go wrong reading one of his books!
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "He was no one, he lived nowhere...the eternal wandering Jew." Feb. 23 2005
By Mary Whipple - Published on
In his fourth novel-adventure, art restorer Gabriel Allon is recalled to action by the Israeli intelligence service for which he once worked. A massive truck bomb at the Israeli embassy in Rome and the shooting of fleeing victims has left fifty-two dead. When the Israelis obtain a computer disk from the terrorists' house outside of Milan, they discover recent photos of Gabriel Allon and his lover, notes about his real identity, and details of his sanctioned killing of Black September members, along with the second in command in the PLO. Yassir Arafat himself ordered reprisals against Allon, which resulted in the death of Allon's son and the maiming of his wife in a car bombing.

Believing the Rome bombing to be connected to the bombings of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and the bombing of Istanbul's main synagogue in 2003, Allon and his mentor, Ari Shamron, an advisor to the prime minister of Israel, soon focus on three generations of a single family. Sheikh Asad led the Arab Revolt in 1936, unleashing deadly attacks all over Israel, until he was assassinated on orders of Yitzhak Rabin. The Sheik's son, Sabri, a friend of Yassir Arafat, accepted his father's terrorist mantle, until he was eliminated. Sabri's orphaned son, young Khaled, adopted by Yassir Arafat, is believed to be behind the recent spate of bombings of Jewish buildings around the world. Allon is now assigned to find and execute him.

The novel, the fourth in the Allon series, is filled with familiar main characters from the past, both in Allon's personal life and in his life as part of the Israeli security service. These familiar "faces" and the numerous references to Allon's previous adventures add depth and important historical background to this novel. The past relationships of characters and their interconnections are written clearly so new readers will not become confused, as Allon and Shamron try to find Khaled and prevent another attack, this time in France.

Silva is a particularly efficient novelist, writing in an exciting narrative style which keeps the tension high while he explores contemporary issues. He is a master at juggling subplots and developing his characters, especially his flawed main character, Gabriel Allon. His inclusion of real people, such as Itzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, gives immediacy to the action, and his background information on the continuing war between the Arabs and Jews for the land in Palestine gives a sense of context to this long-standing enmity. Beautifully paced, the novel offers glimpses of life in contemporary Israel and the historic reasons for the violence there. Mary Whipple
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is our disease..." March 15 2005
By Peter Kobs - Published on
What lens do we use to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Usually, it's the evening news or morning newspaper. Boom. Bang. Bleed. After a while, all of the killing seems to blend together into an enormous, sad gray cloud of suffering. Reprisals follow upon reprisals until it all seems like a pointless exercise in tribal violence. As Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

What we really need is a new method of understanding -- a new lens -- that will enable us to see this conflict in its deeper hues. Something that will connect the past with the present in a way that is not transparently self-righteous.

That's what Daniel Silva has achieved in his remarkable new novel -- "Prince of Fire." He has taken a somewhat worn-out literary genre (the spy novel) and turned it into a powerful new lens for understanding the current conflict. Anyone who cares about the future of Israel and the hope for a Palestinian state should read this extremely well-written and sophisticated novel. (If you need a quick plot summary, read one of the other reviews on this page.)

Now, anew, we can see how the history of Zionism intersects with the Shoah and the subsequent founding of Israel. Now, anew, we can see how the suffering of the Palestinian people has been exploited by Arab leaders for cynical political purposes. Now, finally, we can see that there is no single "black and white" solution -- or source of blame. Not even Arafat.

While Silva is clearly a defender of Israel and the Jewish people, he is not without doubt and empathy for the other side. His reluctant spy-hero, Gabriel Allon, continually challenges his own assumptions and refuses to accept easy explanations.

One of the Palestinian characters in Prince of Fire, an older man who has seen too much, says: "Always living in the past -- this is our disease." Read this book to understand why the past still has a strangle hold on so many people today.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silva Pens Another Masterpiece..A Must Read!! March 3 2005
By John R. Linnell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In his fifth novel featuring the art restorer and Israeli sometime assassin, Gabriel Allon, author Daniel Silva delivers another gripping chapter in the difficult life of his central character. The title comes from a comment that was made by Allon's mentor, Ari Shamron when Allon returned as a young man from his first assassination on behalf of Israel. Allon's black hair had gone gray at the temples as a result of a traumatic reaction to the event, which caused Shamron to call them "smudges of ash on the prince of fire."

In this book, following an explosion at the Israeli embassy in Rome it is discovered that the Palestinians have uncovered Allon's identity, his bloddy past and have marked him for elimination. Moving swiftly on this news Allon is extracted from Venice and returned to Israel.

An analysis of a series of attacks that have been carried out prior to Rome reveals that a master terrorist is at work in planning and carrying them out and Allon is detailed to determine the man's identity and to track him down and eliminate him.

Too much detail in describing how the puzzle is solved and the obstacles that are put in the way would spoil the story, but suffice it to say that once the man is identified, Allon's troubles are only begining.

Silva does his usual masterful job of weaving this fictional story around the current events in the Middle East, utilizing some real characters to give weight to the tale and also educating the reader with some historical facts concerning the creation of the State of Israel and how the Palestinian problem came to be.

The good news for the reader is that there appears to be more to come, but getting current with the adventures of Gabriel Allon is quite sufficient for now.
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