Prince of Fire (Gabriel Allon Series #5)

Prince of Fire (Gabriel Allon Series #5)

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by Daniel Silva

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Gabriel Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in terrorist hands that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist…  See more details below


Gabriel Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in terrorist hands that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist across a landscape drenched with generations of blood, the trail turning on itself until, finally, he can no longer be certain who is stalking whom. And when at last the showdown comes, it will not be Gabriel alone who is threatened with destruction - for it is not his history alone that has been laid bare.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Lipez
While the historical background is thoughtfully laid out, it's the action and the man always at its center that keep Prince of Fire churning along and sometimes doubling back on itself entertainingly.
— The Washington Post
The New Yorker
Silva’s fourth novel, “The Kill Artist,” introduced Gabriel Allon, an Israeli secret agent and the unlikely guardian of Yasir Arafat during the Oslo peace negotiations. In the three books that followed, Arafat demonstrated his appreciation by repeatedly trying to have Allon murdered. In the latest installment, the Israeli Embassy in Rome is destroyed by a Palestinian bomb, and Allon is summoned from Venice, where he poses as a world-class art restorer, to hunt down the terrorist. That the bomber also happens to moonlight as a famous French archeologist is mere coincidence. How these two could operate undetected in such gossipy professions is itself a mystery, but Silva manages to render the rest of the tense cat-and-mouse plot more credibly. Though he doesn’t disguise his (now, perhaps, obsolete) antipathy for Arafat, Silva adorns his other characters—the true believer, the spymaster, the lover—with enough fine thoughts to make them sympathetic.
Publishers Weekly
Silva's latest novel to feature art restorer/Israeli agent Gabriel Allon (after 2004's A Death in Vienna) is a passionate, intelligently crafted entry that cements the series' place among today's top spy fiction. The structure is classic-the semireluctant spy, Gabriel, is pulled from his cover to hunt down terrorists who have committed a horrific crime, in this case the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome. The mastermind behind the bombing is French archeologist Paul Martineau, aka "Khaled, son of Sabri, grandson of Sheikh Asad. Khaled, avenger of past wrongs, sword of Palestine." Orphaned as a child after his father is killed by the Israelis, Khaled is also the adopted son of Yasir Arafat, who has now activated Khaled to wreak vengeance on his mortal enemies. Gabriel assembles a team of crack young agents and sets out to find when and where Khaled will strike next. The determined team tracks down the terrorist, but when Gabriel goes in for the kill the plot takes a stunning twist; the lives of all, plus hundreds of innocent bystanders, are threatened. Gabriel is a complex character with a rich past. His wife, Leah, is confined to a psychiatric hospital in London, mentally damaged and physically disfigured from the bombing that killed their son. He lives with the beautiful Chiara, whom he can't marry out of loyalty to Leah, even though she seems to barely know him. Silva hints at further entries in the series in which Gabriel must step up and assume new duties: "Gabriel, you are the mightiest," his former mentor tells the agent. "You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment-the Prince of Fire." Agent, Esther Newberg. (Feb. 22) Forecast: This series is getting better with each new entry, which should result in increasing sales. Author tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Following the bombing of the Israeli consulate in Rome, secret agent Gabriel Allon is called upon to track down the person responsible, a third-generation Palestinian terrorist who attacked Gabriel's family ten years earlier. In Silva's fifth and most intimate Allon tale, Gabriel is tired of the spy game and longs for solace through his cover as an Italian art restorer. Gabriel is also torn between his loyalty to his invalid wife and his love for a younger woman, between his patriotism and his devotion to art. As usual, Silva balances history, action, and moral issues quite well, with his account of the evolution of the terrorist especially gripping. Some may find the novel a bit more talky than the author's previous efforts and the conclusion somewhat perfunctory, but it is always fascinating. Guerin Barry handles the voices expertly. Recommended for popular collections. Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Large Print Distribution
Publication date:
Gabriel Allon Series, #5
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Prince of Fire

By Daniel Silva

Putnam Adult

ISBN: 0-399-15243-1

Chapter One

THERE HAD BEEN WARNING SIGNS-THE SHABBAT bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left eighty-seven people dead; the bombing of an Istanbul synagogue, precisely one year later, that killed another twenty-eight-but Rome would be his coming-out party, and Rome would be the place where he left his calling card.

Afterward, within the corridors and executive suites of Israel's vaunted intelligence service, there was considerable and sometimes belligerent debate over the time and place of the conspiracy's genesis. Lev Ahroni, the ever-cautious director of the service, would claim that the plot was hatched not long after the Israeli army knocked down Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah and stole his secret files. Ari Shamron, the legendary Israeli master spy, would find this almost laughable, though Shamron often disagreed with Lev simply as a matter of sport. Only Shamron, who had fought with the Palmach during the War of Independence and who tended to view the conflict as a continuum, understood intuitively that the outrage in Rome had been inspired by deeds dating back more than a half century. Eventually, evidence would prove both Lev and Shamron correct. In the meantime, in order to achieve peaceful working conditions, they agreed on a new starting point: the day a certain Monsieur Jean-Luc arrived in the hills of Lazio and settled himself in a rather handsome eighteenth-century villa on the shore of Lake Bracciano.

As for the exact date and time of his arrival, there was no doubt. The owner of the villa, a dubious Belgian aristocrat called Monsieur Laval, said the tenant appeared at two-thirty in the afternoon on the final Friday of March. The courteous but intense young Israeli who called on Monsieur Laval at his home in Brussels wondered how it was possible to recall the date so clearly. The Belgian produced his lavish leather-bound personal calendar and pointed to the date in question. There, penciled on the line designated for 2:30 P.M., were the words: Meet M. Jean-Luc at Bracciano villa.

"Why did you write Bracciano villa instead of just villa?" asked the Israeli visitor, his pen hovering over his open notebook.

"To differentiate it from our St. Tropez villa, our Portuguese villa, and the chalet we own in the Swiss Alps."

"I see," said the Israeli, though the Belgian found that his visitor's tone lacked the humility adopted by most civil servants when confronted by men of great wealth.

And what else did Monsieur Laval remember of the man who rented his villa? That he was punctual, intelligent, and extremely well-mannered. That he was strikingly good-looking, that his scent was noticeable but not obtrusive, that his clothing was expensive but restrained. That he drove a Mercedes car and had two large suitcases with gold buckles and a famous label. That he paid the entire monthlong lease in advance and in cash, which Monsieur Laval explained was not unusual in that part of Italy. That he was a good listener who didn't need to be told things twice. That he spoke French with the accent of a Parisian from a well-heeled arrondissement. That he seemed like a man who could handle himself well in a fight and who treated his women well. "He was of noble birth," Laval concluded, with the certainty of one who knows of what he speaks. "He comes from a good bloodline. Write that in your little book."

Slowly, additional details would emerge about the man called Jean-Luc, though none conflicted with Monsieur Laval's flattering portrait. He hired no cleaning woman and demanded the gardener arrive punctually at nine o'clock and leave by ten. He shopped in nearby market squares and attended Mass in the medieval lakeside village of Anguillara. He spent much time touring the Roman ruins of Lazio and seemed particularly intrigued by the ancient necropolis at Cerveteri.

Sometime in the middle of March-the date could never be reliably established-he vanished. Even Monsieur Laval could not be certain of the departure date, because he was informed after the fact by a woman in Paris who claimed to be the gentleman's personal assistant. Though two weeks remained on the lease, the handsome tenant did not embarrass himself, or Monsieur Laval, by asking for a refund. Later that spring, when Monsieur Laval visited the villa, he was surprised to discover, in a crystal bowl on the dining room sideboard, a brief thank-you note, typewritten, along with a hundred euros to pay for broken wineglasses. A thorough search of the villa's stemware collection, however, revealed nothing was missing. When Monsieur Laval tried to call Jean-Luc's girl in Paris to return the money, he found that her telephone line had been disconnected.

ON THE FRINGES of the Borghese gardens there are elegant boulevards and quiet leafy side streets that bear little resemblance to the scruffy, tourist-trodden thoroughfares of the city center. They are avenues of diplomacy and money, where traffic moves at a nearly reasonable speed and where the blare of car horns sounds like a rebellion in distant lands. One such street is a cul-de-sac. It falls away at a gentle pitch and bends to the right. For many hours each day, it is in shadow, a consequence of the towering stone pine and eucalyptus that loom over the villas. The narrow sidewalk is broken by tree roots and perpetually covered by pine needles and dead leaves. At the end of the street is a diplomatic compound, more heavily fortified than most in Rome.

Survivors and witnesses would recall the perfection of that late-winter morning: bright and clear, cold enough in the shadows to bring on a shiver, warm enough in the sun to unbutton a wool coat and dream of an alfresco lunch. The fact it was also a Friday served only to heighten the leisurely atmosphere. In diplomatic Rome, it was a morning to dawdle over a cappuccino and cornetto, to take stock of one's circumstances and ponder one's mortality. Procrastination was the order of the day. Many mundane meetings were canceled. Much routine paperwork was put off till Monday.

On the little cul-de-sac near the Borghese gardens there were no outward signs of the catastrophe to come. The Italian police and security agents guarding the perimeter fortifications chatted lazily in the patches of brilliant sunshine. Like most diplomatic missions in Rome, it officially contained two embassies, one dealing with the Italian government, the second with the Vatican. Both embassies opened for business at their appointed times. Both ambassadors were in their offices.

At ten-fifteen a tubby Jesuit waddled down the hill, a leather satchel in his hand. Inside was a diplomatic démarche from the Vatican Secretariat of State, condemning the Israeli army's recent incursion into Bethlehem. The courier deposited the document with an embassy clerk and puffed his way back up the hill. Afterward, the text would be made public, and its sharp language would prove a temporary embarrassment to the men of the Vatican. The courier's timing would prove providential. Had he arrived five minutes later, he would have been vaporized, along with the original text of the démarche.

Not so fortunate were the members of an Italian television crew who had come to interview the ambassador on the current state of affairs in the Middle East. Or the delegation of local Jewish crusaders who had come to secure the ambassador's public condemnation of a neo-Nazi conference scheduled for the following week in Verona. Or the Italian couple, sickened by the new rise of European anti-Semitism, who were about to inquire about the possibility of emigrating to Israel. Fourteen in all, they were standing in a tight cluster at the business entrance, waiting to be body-searched by the embassy's short-haired security toughs, when the white freight truck made a right turn into the cul-de-sac and began its death run toward the compound.

Most heard the truck before they saw it. The convulsive roar of its diesel engine was a violent intrusion on the otherwise still morning. It was impossible to ignore. The Italian security men paused in mid-conversation and looked up, as did the group of fourteen strangers gathered outside the entrance of the embassy. The tubby Jesuit, who was waiting for a bus at the opposite end of the street, lifted his round head from his copy of L'Osservatore Romano and searched for the source of the commotion.

The gentle slope of the street helped the truck gather speed at an astonishing rate. As it rounded the bend, the massive load in its cargo container pushed the truck heavily onto two wheels. For an instant it seemed it might topple. Then somehow it righted itself and began the final straight-line plunge toward the compound.

The driver was briefly visible through the windshield. He was young and clean-shaven. His eyes were wide, his mouth agape. He seemed to be standing atop the gas pedal, and he seemed to be shouting at himself. For some reason the wipers were on.

The Italian security forces reacted immediately. Several took cover behind the reinforced concrete barriers. Others dived for the protection of the steel-and-glass guard posts. Two officers could be seen pouring automatic fire toward the marauding truck. Sparks exploded on the grille, and the windshield shattered, but the truck continued unhindered, gathering speed until the point of impact. Afterward, the government of Israel would commend the heroism shown by the Italian security services that morning. It would be noted that none fled their positions, though if they had, their fate would have been precisely the same.

The explosion could be heard from St. Peter's Square to the Piazza di Spagna to the Janiculum Hill. Those on the upper floors of buildings were treated to the remarkable sight of a red-and-orange fireball rising over the northern end of the Villa Borghese, followed quickly by a pitch-black mushroom cloud of smoke. Windows a mile from the blast point were shattered by the thunderclap of the shock wave, including the stained-glass windows in a nearby church. Plane trees were stripped of their leaves. Birds died in mid-flight. Geologists at a seismic monitoring station first feared that Rome had been shaken by a moderate earthquake.

None of the Italian security men survived the initial blast. Nor did any of the fourteen visitors waiting to be admitted to the mission, or the embassy personnel who happened to be working in offices closest to the spot where the truck exploded.

Ultimately, though, it was the second vehicle that inflicted the most loss of life. The Vatican courier, who had been knocked to the ground by the force of the blast, saw the car turn into the cul-de-sac at high speed. Because it was a Lancia sedan, and because it was carrying four men and traveling at a high rate of speed, he assumed it was a police vehicle responding to the bombing. The priest got to his feet and started toward the scene through the dense black smoke, hoping to be of assistance to the wounded and the dead alike. Instead he saw a scene from a nightmare. The doors of the Lancia opened simultaneously, and the four men he assumed to be police officers began firing into the compound. Survivors who staggered from the burning wreckage of the embassy were mercilessly cut down.

The four gunmen ceased firing at precisely the same time, then clambered back into the Lancia. As they sped away from the burning compound, one of the terrorists aimed his automatic weapon at the Jesuit. The priest made the sign of the cross and prepared himself to die. The terrorist just smiled and disappeared behind a curtain of smoke.


Excerpted from Prince of Fire by Daniel Silva Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Prince of Fire (Gabriel Allon Series #5) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this novel not realizing it was one in a long series. It didn't matter because it provided enough background for me to get the idea of Gabriel's past assignments. Since this read, I've read two more in the Gabriel Allon series. The books are all well-written. The characters are well-developed described with enough detail to paint a picture and not too much to bore the reader. The story kept me interested and turning the pages. I highly recommend this book as an exciting novel and current to the times.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the bombing of an Istanbul synagogue and the suicide bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome are the work of one mastermind, a terrorist trained by Yassar Arafat. After the bombing in Rome, the Israelis were able to trace one of the perpetrators to his home and there they found the dossier of Gabriel Allon currently working as an art restorer in Rome.......................... Gabriel used to work for covert organization known as the Office but when his son died and his wife was physically and mentally damaged he quit the organization although he does freelance work for them at times. With his cover blown, Gabriel is forced to return to Israel and the Office where he tracks the mastermind responsible for the murders of hundreds of Jews; he intends to spill as much blood as he can in an act of revenge. When it is discovered that the terrorist intends to blow up the French subway station, Gabriel moves to stop him but that is before he learns that they kidnapped has wife and made him look to the world like a man who was responsible for the bombings.................... This is the fifth Gabriel Allon book and it is Daniel Silva¿s best work to date. Gabriel finally comes home and returns to the work he gave up as penance for what happened to his wife and child. The war between two brilliant spies is terrific as nobody is certain at what point Gabriel is the cat or the mouse. Thriller readers are going to love PRINCE OF FIRE................ Harriet Klausner
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Does the rest and goes back to camp (this is taking forever!)
harbo More than 1 year ago
Gabriel Allon always does a fine job in the mystery world. While traveling we often use audio books with Daniel Silva. An outstanding travel companion.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Daniel Silva is a master storyteller, and I love the character of Gabriel Allon! I have read every book that he has written. His side job of art restorer adds to the interest of the book. If you have never read Daniel Silva you are in for a treat. The language and vocabulary are a step above most mysteries.
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