Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ascendancy
Next to James Bond, perhaps the most recognizable name in espionage fiction is that of Robert Ludlum's creation, Jason Bourne. Ludlum wrote three bestselling Bourne novels and saw his hero spy made into a TV movie, as well as the popular Matt Damon series of films in addition to a re-working of the Bourne saga that featured Jeremy Renner.
The fact that Ludlum passed away in March 2001 has not slowed down the Bourne express. In the highly able hands of author Eric Van Lustbader, Bourne has seen a resurgence of terrific proportions. The latest novel in the series, THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY, marks the ninth Bourne title penned by Lustbader. It is set in the present day with the main target of Bourne's skill set being radical Islam and the sects within that group that have dedicated their lives to bringing down “the great Satan,” or the United States and all its people.
"What Lustbader does best is to step into the shoes and skin of Jason Bourne, breathing life into a character who readers of espionage thrillers cannot get enough of. THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY will not disappoint."
THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY kicks off with the kidnapping of Bourne's friend and sometime colleague, Soraya. Soraya is held at gunpoint along with her husband and daughter by a group of Middle Eastern terrorists, who realize this action will bring Bourne out of hiding and force the U.S. intelligence community to tip their hand. When Soraya's husband is brutally executed, all recognize this threat to be a serious one.
Meanwhile, Bourne himself is apprehended by an extremely militant group led by an individual calling himself El Ghadan, or “Tomorrow.” El Ghadan and his men transport Bourne to an underground bunker, and he learns that the same group is behind the kidnapping of Soraya.
Upon his “escape,” Bourne sets out to infiltrate himself into another group set on targeting the United States for terrorist activities. His deep cover includes his adopting an Islamic name and claiming his sniper skills are to be used in the name of Allah. Unbeknownst to Bourne, there are some corrupt government members within the U.S. who are seeking to spin his undercover operation to their own nefarious agenda.
If the President of the United States can be convinced that Bourne has turned to the enemy and is targeting him for assassination, he will have no choice but to use U.S. forces to eliminate Bourne and declare all-out war on their Middle Eastern enemies. The opponents of the U.S. compare our government to the time of Roman domination when corrupt popes ruled the world. At times in this novel, it is difficult to see who the true enemy is.
What Lustbader does best is to step into the shoes and skin of Jason Bourne, breathing life into a character who readers of espionage thrillers cannot get enough of. THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY will not disappoint. Bourne goes through the most difficult ordeal of his career and may not escape unscathed. There are many other characters and rival plotlines, but readers will be clamoring to return to Bourne's story every time the focus moves away from him.
The world Bourne inhabits now has changed, and the enemies are not necessarily all overseas. The threat to the United States may come from radical and corrupt internal forces that are just as deadly as the enemies he has been programmed to eliminate with extreme prejudice. The balancing act Bourne must perform in THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY is unlike any feat he has accomplished before.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 13, 2014