The Guns of Navarone review

There are two types of people in this world: those who think The Guns of Navarone is a movie, and those that think it is a novel.

I’ve never seen the movie.

But I just finished the novel! It has been sitting on my shelf for years. I tried reading it once before but I only got five pages in before putting it back- but don’t let that put you off! I just wasn’t in the mood.

And that is the crux of Alistair MacClean: you are either in the mood, or you are not. His prose is dense with soul-suffering and heroes that are constantly blaming themselves for not being gods. Sometimes that is awesome, sometimes it is drivel.

I’m a bit of an Alistair MacClean fan, but I haven’t read even half of his books. The later ones are dreadul- River of Death? Ye Gods! Santorini? Just bland.

The Guns of Navarone? Awesome!

It’s World War II and there’s a Greek Island with two 9-inch guns that need to be destroyed so the allies can evacuate some servicemen. Enter Keith Mallory: a New Zealander, and the world’s greatest mountain climber.

I love it because he’s not British, not American, not French. How many New Zealand heroes are there in literature? Not many! And, honestly, his origins could have been left unmentioned and the story would not have suffered. But he’s from New Zealand, and that’s just pefect. Also, his first name is Keith.

But what about the action? There’s a boat wreck (or two.) There’s a treacherous mountain. There are explosions, there is snow. Betrayal, sabotage, men being shot in the heart… Thrilling stuff that flies from the page.

And the women? Tell me about the women! {Crickets….} There is not a single female in the entire novel. No romance, no femfatale. Just men doing manly things- and if that doesn’t make you want to read the damn thing, then nothing I say will change your mind.

So, The Guns of Navarone isn’t so much holiday fiction as canceled holiday fiction. The plane’s been delayed? Good! I’ve just reached Chapter 12…


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