Force 10 from Navarone
Despite the smashing success of The Guns of Navarone — both in
print and on the big screen — it took Alistair MacLean eleven years to publish a sequel. Force 10 from
Navarone is linked to the preceding work through three main characters, though the action is unrelated to that
earlier mission. As in the later (inferior) work Partisans, Force 10 centers
on the World War II struggle in Yugoslavia, between the Partisans (backed by the Allied powers) and their
countrymen who sided with the Germans. These alliances let MacLean employ some of his favorite types of characters:
clever German officers, fierce warriors of the high Tatras, and naive young Allied operatives learning how war and
secret missions really work. Heavy on action (albeit sometimes light on sensible behavior by all concerned),
Force 10 deserves to be read by anyone who enjoyed The Guns of Navarone or other MacLean stories
from that era.
Fresh from destroying the fabled guns of Navarone, Keith Mallory, Dusty Miller, and the ever-lethal Andrea are
sent on another improbable assignment: saving 7,000 Yugoslav Partisans who face annihilation by massed German
tanks. Off to the Balkans they fly, accompanied by a trio of young commandos. As they attempt to contact the
Partisan forces and stop the German onslaught, this elite squad encounter treachery and violence ... as well as
help from locals working both openly and clandestinely to stem the Axis tide. Can that aid help them overcome
fantastic odds and accomplish their unlikely goal before time runs out?
- Mysteries, frequent conflicts, and high-caliber MacLean prose drive the reader steadily along.
- Seeing the continued development, or at least actions, of familiar characters is an unusual pleasure for
- Showing the perspectives of people away from the main events — the British supervisor, the German commander
— adds new flavors to the tale.
- A female fills a major role well without getting mushy with the main protagonist.
- While he doesn't do a bad job of mining familiar character types (see the first paragraph above),
MacLean's faithful readers can anticipate what will happen to some of those characters, based on the plots
of other books; this reduces the story's tension.
- Some fans probably dote on MacLean's hyper-detailed descriptions of structures and environments where
actions take place. Just when events are humming along, though, he deflates the excitement a bit by going on at
length about the features of this guardhouse or that dam.
- As in The Guns of Navarone, I found Andrea's unstoppable heroics — the way he was always
a "fox among hens" — just too much to believe.
Overcoming the occasionally uneven pace and stereotypical supporting characters, Mallory, Miller, and
Andrea do keep the opposition busy and the reader entertained.
(8 out of 10)