A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré

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“It’s over. I’ve fought to the last lie. I’m dead and I’m out of ammunition.”

— John Le Carré, A Legacy of Spies

    One of the godfathers of spy thrillers returns to the battlefield with A Legacy of SpiesIt’s hard to ignore the legacy of John Le Carré himself when brought to reflect upon the whole universe of espionage that he was able to bring to life, from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. His latest novel serves as a fantastic throwback to his greatest work and brings back one of his signature characters, George Smiley, in a story overflowing with tough moral decisions. As much as I would’ve loved to recommend this as a stand-alone novel which features one of the most charismatic, authentic and fascinating characters, Peter Guillam, also known as George Smiley top disciple, A Legacy of Spies will mostly please fans who have read his previous novels, notably the two mentioned above. Nonetheless, John Le Carré’s latest book continues to highlight his talent as a story-teller and immerses you in the world of spies like no other story.

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    Unlike certain novels that are easily read without any prior knowledge of previous books of the author, A Legacy of Spies would surely be much more appreciated if you’re memory is still fresh regarding events taking place in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. A Legacy of Spies is not being marketed as a sequel, but its references to past events makes it a bit hard to comprehend its core essence if you haven’t checked out those two other books. In fact, the story unfolds with Peter Guillam, our protagonist, being scrutinized about Operation Windfall and his Cold War past in order to help him—or maybe just the British Secret Service—bypass some legal issues that have risen from the dark. The novel greatly relies on interweaving the past and the present in order to unwrap the lies and deceits that have been much more essential than one who has never lived through Cold War would understand. While you’d love to pursue this story thinking that this Operation and all its mysteries are new and never-heard of, you’ll quickly find yourself in front of elements that can only be savored if you had prior knowledge of John Le Carré books (at least those two classics).

    The story also greatly relies on reports, transcripts and past communications written with code names and technical spy language. While at first it was fun to follow the dialect and watch the evolution behind all these communications, you should be wary of how things can sometimes be quite confusing and easily lose you if you don’t remember a spies countless different names. It’s not a major issue since there are moments where you’re reminded, in parentheses, who’s who. But when the plot suddenly complicates itself with the addition of a couple sub-plots, you’ll wish that you had read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and that you had taken note on all these names. However, here’s the thing. With spy novels, misdirection, deception and coded language are all part of the game. John Le Carré does an exemplary and astounding job at creating a seamless story that brings this spy world to life. It’s the whole thinking-twice-before-saying-something and the silly-names-for-serious-things-or-people that make this so much more fun after all.

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    If there’s one thing that stands out the most about this novel, it’s its cast. The character’s in this story are brilliantly developed and have their own identity throughout the story. While there’s the return of certain classic characters created by John Le Carré, the newer additions were also just as intriguing. I loved how they all embraced their roles and represented their generation with pure perfection. It’s also quite satisfying to have a a retired spy operative with such a remarkable personality take the lead in this latest novel. In fact, Peter Guillam’s wit and attitude made this story so much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the downside to A Legacy of Spies is how all the throwback elements referring to both of John Le Carré’s bestsellers carry a lot of weight in the reader’s overall impression of this novel. Instead of being crafty hints for fans to discover and enjoy, they end up less exciting as you’d want them to be for readers who are new to the author’s books. Nonetheless, John Le Carré delivers an excellent spy thriller that navigates through the world of spies by incorporating both the past and the present.


THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in A Legacy of Spies?
How about you read this book for yourself!
You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo now!

A Legacy of Spies came out on September 5th, 2017!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below and follow us for more content!

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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30 thoughts on “A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré

  1. Nikola (Breathing Through Pages) says:

    I haven’t read anything by this author because I’m not that into spy thrillers even though I loved your review! I wish it was a standalone so that at least I could try it but I’m sure that his readers will appreciate it more because its their genre.. Great review Lashaan! It’s great to see that the ‘newcomers’ to the story are as intriguing as the old characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks, Nikola. I do appreciate that you still take the time to read my review about something that might not necessarily be your cup of tea! If you do want to try out a spy thriller by this author, I can only recommend those two classics I’ve mentioned: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. They are some of the books he’s most known for. His books are also often made into movies too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yep, yep! Have you had the chance to read all the books where he appears? 😮 It’s not really repetition, it’s just that they do refer to those books and knowing what happens in those books will make things a lot easier to understand and enjoy in this one. I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts on this if you ever decide to read it, especially since you’re one of those rare people who’ve actually read some Le Carré in their life! 😛 Thank you so much Kim, I truly appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I’ve heard of John Le Carre’s previous books but haven’t read any of them, not really my thing, but if this is the kind of genre people enjoy I reckon this would be a brilliant book. The fact that you described the author as one of the godfathers of spy thrillers gave that away. 🙂 Have you read the other two that came before this one? I feel like I’ve seen reviews for them on your blog but I can’t be sure.
    Either way great review Lashaan, and I’m glad you enjoyed this book as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh, that’s fine! I’m glad to know that you at least know the guy and his books! 😛 Yep, and this book in particular, is something that long time fans will thoroughly enjoy and rave about. I actually haven’t read the other two hahah Sad part is that I have both of those books on my bookshelves for over a year or two now… 😀 😀 😀 Thank you for reading Beth! I appreciate the time you took to do so. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahhaha your comment had me laughing out loud! My copy of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is like 350 pages long, so I can only imagine what you had to go through! 😛 I’m glad to hear that you’ve actually read something from him though!!! It’s always so cool to hear from folks who’ve checked out an author that I would otherwise think they wouldn’t have out in blogging world filled with YA novels hihih! 😛 Thank you so much for your kind words, Dani! I really appreciate it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    Well at least I’ve heard of him ;-).. I only read The Travellers by Chris Pavone in this genre and although I really liked that one I’m not sure this one’s for me, the backdrop could be off putting for me. It does sound like he’s got a really interesting main character though, I love a guy with a bit of attitude. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I’ve seen that book around before but never really got around to finding out what it was about or if it was worth picking up hahah Oh, I understand. You could always check out his more “classic” work if spies and espionage is something you’d like to read more about. He’s one of the go-to authors out there for sure, at least in adult literature! 😀 Thank you so much for checking out my review, Inge!! Always love reading your thoughts!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Karina Pinella says:

    The movie based on Tinker, Tailor, etc was not very good. The story line sounded interesting but somehow the movie didn’t turn out so well. I’ve seen Le Carre’s books, but I have other spy thriller authors I’d rather read, although I’m sure Le Carre is a better writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Oh I actually thought, from your raving review, that this would be a massive 5 stars rating! A bit disappointing to see only 3 stars :/ But oh well, I’m glad it was enjoyable all the same!
    I haven’t read anything by Le Carré and certainly not Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, so I would have to try those first in order to appreciate this one, it seems.
    I loooove spy movies and the like, but I haven’t actually read any spy books? What the hell, me! I need to read some spy books now!
    Such an amazing review, Lashaan! Unsurprisingly, of course 😉 And it definitely piqued my interest 🙂 Keep up the awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahah star ratings are quite tricky, you see! 😀 I can say a lot of great things about a book I read and still just give it 3 stars for my level of enjoyment. I guess it’s something I’ve developed especially because of the classics I’ve read so far in my life hahah

      Oh, I’d definitely recommend those books by Le Carré before A Legacy of Spies. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through A Legacy of Spies feeling like they’re missing pieces to a puzzle.

      Funny thing is that his books are often made into movies/shows too. You could totally just check out the movies first to see if his books are something you’d want to try too. 😛 Or the other way around too. Your call! 😀

      Thank you Sophie! I always love it whenever you drop by and check out my content. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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