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The Xanadu Talisman Paperback – Sep 1 2002

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Paperback, Sep 1 2002
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press; New edition edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 028563643X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285636439
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.2 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,161,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[Modesty Blaise and Willie Gavin's is] one of the greatest partnerships in crime fiction . . . bearing comparison (though necessarily different from) that of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.”  —Kingsley Amis

About the Author

Peter O'Donnell created the Modesty Blaise strip cartoon in the 1950s and is the author of 13 books in the Modesty Blaise novel series.

Inside This Book

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"Was bad combat move. Better I take Arab first ... he have submachine gun." Jan. 24 2007
By Rennie Petersen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Once again a great Modesty Blaise book marred by a major flaw.

"The Xanadu Talisman" is the tenth book in the Modesty Blaise series of books, and was written by Peter O'Donnell in 1981, i.e., 16 years after he had started the series with "Modesty Blaise" in 1965. By now the series was well established and very popular, with a large number of fans (including myself) waiting impatiently for each new book.

Unfortunately, by this time the series was on a slow downwards trend - my rating for each of the first seven books is four or five stars, while books eight, nine and ten only get three stars each. This is because there were two problems that were becoming more and more pronounced with the later books in the series: a repetitiveness in the basic plots and the way in which the bad guys were becoming less scary and invincible, and more weird and silly.

In this book, like most of the books in the series, Modesty and her loyal sidekick Willie Garvin encounter some nasty bad guys. Modesty and Willie get captured, and then, through their ingenuity and incredible fighting skills, they break out of imprisonment and win several battles against the bad guys.

The story in "The Xanadu Talisman" is quite good, sufficiently complicated to keep you guessing for a while. There are also several sub-plots that come together in a satisfying way, and a couple of interesting twists in the last three chapters. To avoid revealing too much I'll just say that a stolen (and re-stolen) treasure of immense value is involved as well as the kidnapping of a young English woman.

Much of the action occurs in and around Morocco. A wealthy Arab sheikh, Prince Rahim Mohajeri Azhari of Saudi Arabia, has built an isolated palace high in the Atlas Mountains. This is Xanadu, and it is here that the climax of the story occurs.

Unfortunately, Prince Rahim is not the top bad guy. (The book would have been better if he was.) Instead, the top bad guys are Nanny Pendergast and two young brothers, Jeremy and Dominic Silk. It turns out that Jeremy and Dominic were left in the care of Nanny Pendergast at a young age, and grew up being trained by their nanny to become top criminals and martial artists. Sounds crazy? I agree. No matter how deadly Peter O'Donnell portrays this trio they still come across as totally ridiculous, and this is an irreparable weakness in the book. A good thriller needs some really formidable bad guys, like the ones who populated the first five Modesty books, not wimps like the Silk brothers and their nanny.

On the plus side I can mention that Modesty and Willie have finally given up smoking, and that this book has a clever humorous ending, instead of the sugar-sweet endings of some of the previous books in the series.

I'll complete this review by explaining the quote that I used on the subject line, "Was bad combat move. Better I take Arab first ... he have submachine gun." (page 276) This can go down as "famous last words", having been uttered by one of the protagonists just before dying. In the heat of the final battle he found himself confronted by two enemies and chose to shoot the one he personally hated instead of the one who was more heavily armed. Bad combat move.

Recommended, but do yourself a favor and start reading the series from the start. The first six-seven books are the best.

Rennie Petersen
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Another Goody From A Fun Series April 28 2006
By Chris Ward - Published on
Format: Paperback
This later entry in the Modesty & Willie saga really delivers-- the second half is almost all action, and the plot is never too kooky to spur active disbelief. The early clue will be deciphered by history buffs, but it's satisfying for all that. We also learn more about Modesty's beginnings, and her first murder-- in self-defense, but traumatic for all that.

Straight-ahead entertainment at its best.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Xanadu Talisman, a great MOdesty Blaise June 15 2001
By steve feigen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Another great Modesty Blaise. The story takes you from North Africa, through the French Riviera back to the Sahara, and has some terrific moments. Little Krell is one of the best characters in the series, and this book has some of the best combat scenes you will read.
The Usual High Tension Fun May 7 2015
By Virginia E. Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Modesty Blaise #10: “The Xanadu Talisman” by Peter O’Donnell. Waiting in a hotel on the outskirts of Tangiers to meet Gills Penefeather, an earthquake destroys the hotel, falling on top of Modesty Blaise. She is temporarily safe in the oil pit in the basement with an injured Frenchman. While waiting to be rescued she treats the man’s injuries and he gives her a talisman, and mutters in delirium about a secret, asking her to deliver the talisman to his brother. They are rescued by Willie Garvin and his men, and the Frenchman is taken to her estate nearby to recover. During his recovery he is murdered by El Mico, a notorious gang that replaced The Network after Modesty Blaise retired. A desire to fulfill the dead man’s wishes, she takes the talisman to his brother, then delves more deeper into the mystery of the talisman and El Mico, and it all comes to an end at Xanadu. Modesty Blaise is pitted against two karate experts in an arena, then tied to a post. A panther is released in the pit with only Willie Garvin to protect her, and must kill the panther. This was a lot of fun, as usual, and the El Mico gang turned out to be typical villains in the series, but with a little bit of a twist in the ending.
The best in the series March 16 2015
By L. Elmer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this from the library and then decided to purchase it as it was that good. I just LOVED the character of Giles Pennyfeather, especially when he tells Modesty to pay attention as he's explaining that something might be in the basement even though he doesn't even know a basement exists. I also like the "twist" at the end and just the level of humor in this volume. Some of the others (okay, many of the others in this series) just became too ludicrous, but not this one. I also liked the twin villains and the nanny -- just a great book with great characters.