Book Review: The Aquitaine Progression


Author: Robert Ludlum

Published: 1984

Robert Ludlum is better known for his work on the Bourne series.  The Aquitaine Progression is not part of the Borne series, but it is in the thriller genre.  Joel Converse, an international attorney, is tasked with unmasking an international cabal.  This cabal is trying to do what every good cabal does – drink tea, eat scones, and discuss what Rick should have done on last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.  Ha!  Just kidding, of course the cabal is TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.  I usually have a hard time swallowing government conspiracies.  That’s right, dragons, magic, and faster than light travel – no problem.  Government conspiracy – yeah right.  That’s because the government is incompetent, they couldn’t hide a vast conspiracy from anyone.  Fortunately, in The Aquitaine Progression, it is not the government itself, but members within multiple governments, specifically the military.

It has been a while since I have read a thriller.  They can be a lot of fun.  Once Joel reveals himself to the cabal, he becomes a target, and is constantly on the run.  There was non-stop action.  The year 1984 was a different time – no cell phones, no satellite surveillance, and no cameras on every block – makes it a lot easier to evade an evil cabal bent on taking over the world.  I was constantly thinking, “How’s he going to get out of this?”  He gets out of it.  “How’s he going to get out of THIS?”  He gets out of it.  “HOW’S HE GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS?”  At one point, I even thought, “Maybe…Maybe he doesn’t get out of this.”

Joel, a former Air Force pilot, was overly modest about his abilities; he seemed to have the hand-to-hand combat skills of an elite military commando and he used them to get out of each crazy situation.  Since he was so modest, each escape seemed surprising.

Joel, despite being an international attorney, doesn’t speak any other language but English.  This seemed a bit farfetched, but the author does lampshade this, and even makes it a vital plot point.  His inability to communicate with the natives of Europe made his situation more difficult.  His ex-wife, however, was fluent in both French and German.  Once she becomes involves his situation improves.

The most memorable line from the book:

“It happened.”

It happened a lot.  It had the effect of adding suspense (“What?  What happened?  Tell me!”), but it was used often enough for me to notice that it was being used a lot.

As exciting as it was, I found the end a bit confusing.  First, the conspiracy became so vast as to become unbelievable.  It also made me wonder why they even needed to bother TAKING OVER THE WORLD when they pretty much already control it.  Second, the first two-thirds of the book, Joel had trouble doing anything, like finding a place to eat or sleep.  But, during the final third of the book everything seemed to come too easily (no difficulty at all), with no discernible explanation for the ease.  Finally, the wrap-up lacked detail.  Once the military cabal’s plans went into motion, it went something like this, “It happened.  Then it stopped.”  Wait, what?  I am only paraphrasing a little bit.  Why did it stop?  Did I miss something?

While The Aquitaine Progression was a bit farfetched at times, it was an enjoyable read.  If you can buy into everything going on, the exciting, page-turning thriller was tough to put down.  I wish I could make a little more sense of the ending, but that might be reader error.  I think my next book I’ll go back to something more believable – like dragons.

WWYT Rating: 7.00

Goodreads Rating: 3.85/5


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