This is my first Robert Ludlum read. The Tristan Betrayal is a fast paced thriller, so it’s not boring. Really, really not boring. For me, the start to finish was definitely entertaining. And again, this is one of the many books that took me back in time, back in the early 20th century where warlords such as Hitler and Stalin dominated the planet. I know this is a fiction novel, but I still can’t help but wonder if some of the scenarios described in this book happened for real. Yeah, I’m intrigued.
One thing that this book reminded me of is that in every war, in every battle fought and won, there are always unsung heroes. And on this novel’s case, they are Svetlana Baranova, Amos Hilliard, Roger Martin, Corcoran, Kundrov, Stephen Metcalfe and all the other members of the operatives and military intelligence who died doing what they were asked to do, all for the sake of defeating the Nazi force.
From this pool of characters, there were three personal standouts- Svetlana Baranova, the prima ballerina from Russia; Kundrov, a GRU member and the former’s minder; and Stephen Metcalfe, the main character, the American, the spy and the lover.
The way Robert Ludlum portrayed the character of Svetlana Baranova is just genius. Making a female character as the sacrifice and heroine in the story is something I personally thank the author for. In a world dominated by men, it is heartwarming to have a woman protagonist do the job like that of a genuine wartime hero.
Kundrov also played an important role in this story. I didn’t expect that he will be the ‘hero from within’ in this 1940s world crafted by Ludlum. I am drawn at how this character showed his affection for Lana. He’s someone who is very much willing to help Lana in every way possible, watching her back all the time, loving her from afar. He’s someone who managed to maintain his love for humanity even if he’s working for Hitler. He, too, is a victim of Fascism and he knows how hard it is to live in a place dominated by the steel hands of a dictator.
Lastly, Stephen Metcalfe aka Daniel Eigen aka William Quilliagan aka James- a good student of Corcoran, a Yale graduate from the prominent family of businessmen, a beautiful man who is an eye candy to a lot of women, a spy, a lover to Svetlana Baranova and a father to Stepan Menilov. He was the reason why Hitler’s invasion was put to a halt. He did more than what his job required him to do. And he paid such a huge price, it left him a wasted man, a drunkard for months. And that price was the life of the only woman he loved- Svetlana Baranova.
Lana was executed in order to prove the Nazis that she was a genuine traitor of the Soviet Union. Lana who refused to go back to America with Stephen suffered unbearable pain, endured wounds that penetrated her soul in order to save Russia and the man he so loved.
I thought the twists and turns of the story were over after reading the 502nd page. But I was wrong. The biggest twist for me was the ending, when the author revealed that Stepan Menilov, the Commander, is the son of Stephen Metcalfe and Svetlana Baranova. That was the greatest reveal.
After everything else, I was left in awe. This book gave me more reason to love history, be it about my country, the Philippines or about other nations. This book inspired me to just love, love without asking for anything in return be it love for thy country or for someone else. Indeed, I am beyond impressed and I felt truly wonderful having read such masterpiece.