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The Odin Mission by James Holland

The Odin Mission

by James Holland

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542218,071 (3.79)1



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An enjoyable light read. Not a great book but entertaining enough. In particular, I am pleased James Holland chose Norway 1940 as his setting. Little attention is given in popular media to the earlier stages of World War Two (except for the Battle of Britain). This is for two reasons: 1) most are American-made and so take place post-1941, and 2) for its part, British media is understandably more inclined to focus on the later years of the war when the country was on the winning side. A story which sheds light on an often-forgotten campaign, depicting refreshingly new locations and employing unusual weaponry, is to be commended. Holland's 'Historical Note' postscript is also a welcome addition to the book, as the author (a notable historian) describes how he fit Tanner's fictional story into the factual historical narrative of the Norway campaign.

However, there was little that made me invest in the characters. Flaws and failings are what drive character development but Sgt. Jack Tanner seems too competent - he is the perfect action soldier, never overwhelmed and he seems to have a plan (that always works) for every circumstance. With the exception of the French Lt. Chevannes, the British and Norwegian officers that Tanner encounters in the story are far too willing to submit to the sergeant's direction. Some parts in particular seemed to stretch credulity (without giving away too much, I'm thinking of the scene in which he acquires a Spandau machine-gun after a well-placed right hook despite just regaining consciousness).

Other negatives include the reason why 'Odin' is such a coveted asset for the Germans (it is a credible reason, but also a disappointing one) and the portrayal of the Frenchmen. Lieutenant Chevannes initially seems the stereotypical depiction of a self-important Frenchman (though the character improves towards the end as his feud with Tanner intensifies) and the French mountain troops who accompany him are rarely mentioned, and even more rarely by name. An attempt to integrate them into Tanner's ragtag bunch of British and Norwegian survivors (perhaps creating a conflict between the French and British soldiers) would have improved the story. Finally, a better (or rather, a more experienced) novelist would have spent more time depicting the beauty of the Norwegian landscape which Tanner and his men traverse, and perhaps contrasted it to the brutality of the war and the physical trials of Tanner's group.

Having said that, it was an entertaining read. Sometimes you just want a decent story - easy to read and full of action. James Holland provides this with The Odin Mission, and I enjoyed it enough that I plan on reading the second Jack Tanner novel, Darkest Hour. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book! I downloaded it without much thought - I'd taken note of the title and author's name from a 'summer reading' column in a newspaper. Someone was being enthusiastic about the Jack Tanner series; I thought I'd try it. I thought Tanner was another detective, secret agent, whatever. Buying on kindle, I was oblivious to a fact that would have been obvious, had I seen the cover on the shelf: this was a war story, not a crime thriller. But what a brilliant surprise (if only to me!) - completely involuntarily I was back to schooldays with Warlord comic, and yomping across Norway with Jack Tanner and his platoon as if I was once again spending July at army cadet camp, age 15! The plot involves the successful delivery of a military boffin to safe passage against a backdrop of the fall of Norway in 1940. Sgt Tanner is obliged to lead his men against Nazis and terrified civilians, all of course without overly upsetting his incompetent officers. I'll definitely be back for more. ( )
  jtck121166 | Jul 13, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0552157368, Paperback)

Fans of Sharpe will love the first novel in the Jack Tanner series. Set in Norway, April 1940. Sergeant Jack Tanner and his Yorks Rangers, separated from the main battalion, are drawn into a desperate mission to smuggle Norway’s King Haakon’s treasures to safety.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

April 1940. In the valleys of Norway, the British troops are being forced into retreat in this, their first battle with the Germans in World War II. Sergeant Jack Tanner and his patrol of Yorkshire Rangers find themselves being drawn into a desperate mission.… (more)

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