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Night Without End by MacLean Alistair

Night Without End (original 1960; edition 1967)

by MacLean Alistair

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Title:Night Without End
Authors:MacLean Alistair
Info:Collins (1967), Edition: Ninth Impression, Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Night Without End by Alistair MacLean (1960)




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Alistair MacLean was phenomenally successful as a writer of adventure stories. Starting in the late 1950s and then continuing throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he published at least one novel each year, and they all sold in huge numbers. Many of them were made into films (often featuring screenplays used by MacLean himself), including The Guns of Navaraone (and its woeful sequel, Force 10 from Navarone), Where Eagles Dare, Puppet on A Chain, When Eight Bells Toll, Ice Station Zebra and The Satan Bug.

[Night Without End] was one of his earlier books and displays a lot of the characteristics that were to become MacLean's trademarks - a fast, driving plot, resolute and virtually indestructible lead characters, and an ice-bound setting. Another MacLean trait to which this book can lay claim is the almost complete absence of female characters.

The novel opens with an airliner crashing in the Arctic Circle, fortunately coming down close to a research base undertaking a project as part of the United Nations International Geophysical Year (IGY) research programme. Members of the research team battle through the dreadful conditions to find the wreckage, and are able to rescue the survivors. The pilot of the plane was among those who died, though the rescuers see that he had actually been shot. As the survivors are brought back to the research camp, an apparent accident befalls the radio set which provides the only link with the outside world …

I read, and enjoyed, nearly all of MacLean's novels in my early teens back in the mid-1970s, one after another in that almost obsessive way that adolescent boys strive to complete a set. I was, therefore, intrigued when I saw a copy of this book going very cheaply while I was in Scotland on holiday, and thought it would be fun to read it again.

Sadly, it has not aged well. Naturally, more than fifty years since it was first published, the context seems wholly unfamiliar now, but I was struck by how stilted the dialogue was, and how two-dimensional the characters all were. Not one character demonstrates any hint of emotion or sentiment, and even Mason, the narrator-hero, lacks any empathetic traits. He does capture the setting very well - he always manages to convey arctic scenes very deftly - but the novel now seems to lack cohesion and plausibility. Ah well, I won't make that mistake again! ( )
  Eyejaybee | Feb 8, 2014 |
I've read almost all the MacLean novels, and this is my favorite. ( )
  RandyStafford | Dec 28, 2013 |
Perhaps my favorite book of all-time. It was so good that when the book ended, I cried. Not because it was a sad book, but because there was no more to read. Sappy, but true. ( )
  rexter | Dec 18, 2006 |
Seconds ago the passengers were sitting in the cozy security of their pressurized cabin with a controlled temperature of 70°. Then the crash, the tearing, jagged screeching as the plane ripped along the ice and snow. The tidal wave of the dreadful cold, 40° below zero, swept in and engulfed the survivors-the dazed, the injured, the unconscious and the dying-as they sat in the crumpled wreckage of their seats, wearing only thin suits and dresses.
And so began the terrible arctic night, a night without end, where the darkness would bring with it murder and betrayal and cowardice. And the chilling knowledge that among them was a ruthless agent determined to carry out his desperate mission. -- From the web (http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Den/7062/maclean)
  rajendran | May 22, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alistair MacLeanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vuoristo, AaroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was Jackstraw who heard it first - it was always Jackstraw, whose hearing was an even match for his phenomenal eyesight, who heard things first. Tired of having my exposed hands alternately frozen, I had dropped my book, zipped my sleeping-bag up to the chin and was drowsily watching him carving figurines from a length of inferior narwhal tusk when his hands suddenly fell still and he sat quite motionless. Then, unhurriedly as always, he dropped the piece of bone into the coffee-pan that simmered gently by the side of our oil-burner stove - curio collectors paid fancy prices for what they imagined to be the dark ivory of fossilised elephant tusks - rose and put his ear to the ventilation shaft, his eyes remote in the unseeing gaze of a man lost in listening. A couple of seconds were enough.

'Aeroplane,' he announced casually.
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Thriller. Combines elements of the espionage story and murder mystery with the c astaway' adventury yarn.

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