Book Critique - The Bourne Legacy (Jason Bourne #4)

For review of all books in the series, go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A fantastical spy tale taking the readers into the life of Jason Bourne again, involving a high-end chess game where the pawns are real people who evade dangers at every turn of the page to survive.

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth book in the spy action thriller series Jason Bourne, written by Eric Van Lustbader, published in June of 2004. The character was originally created by Robert Ludlum, however after his death, Lustbader picked up the character and continued the series. This book picks up a few years after The Bourne Ultimatum plot.

David Webb is now settled as a professor in linguistics in Georgetown University with his wife Marie St. Jacques Webb and kids, Jamie & Alison. But someone is trying to kill him again. In pursuing the marksman, David lands into a double murder and becomes the prime suspect. Now the puppeteers are moving him again, and corralling him to the very path they want him to go. And David has no choice but to bring back Jason Borne to life in order to find his marksman as well as outsmart the puppeteers. 

Having not read The Bourne Ultimatum, and knowing the movie is very different from the book, I might have missed some of the character continuation. However it helped that Lustbader brings to the reader's attention what went on in the first three books.

Considering that The Bourne Legacy was written 14 years after the last book, it was a good refresher. And brings some part of it to forefront thus creating a thread to tie to the original Bourne books. But the reminiscence by Bourne keeps repeating many many times making it a drawl.  

Contrary to how Ludlum had written the first three books, Lustbader changed the format. He made the entire book into parts - Part One where he builds up the chase for Jason, Part Two the plot thickens with multiple antagonists converging and Part Three gives the grand finale. 

Lustbader creates Bourne's antagonist his exact replica but with darker shades of grey than that Bourne carried. They are well matched in speed, skill, strength and cunningness. After reading the entire book it only made it fitting, but for most part of the book it bothered me that the antagonist was getting better of Bourne and Bourne was cutting it too close one too many times.

It is interesting that Lustbader didn’t sugar coat anything in the plot. Be it showing the cruelty of the antagonist with no care of anyone; or exposing the very existing sexual and racial discrimination even at the highest level in politics. All these still exist in this world now, a good 16 years after this book was written.

Contrast to that Lustbader takes great steps to explain about LAN (Local Area Network) or GPS (Global Positioning System), Firewall, etc, which were new for 2004 but are totally embedded into the thread of everyone's lives in this age and time. 

How timely I picked this book to read I must say. Coincidence or clairvoyance, I don’t know. However, as we are living through this pandemic trying to keep our lives safe as well as others, Lustbader bases his plot on a similar kind of pandemic that need to be stopped. It is scary that unintentionally I picked such a book. 

One interesting piece of info. Lustbader dedicates this book in memory of Bob. I assume it is Robert Ludlum here that he is talking about. 

Universal Pictures made a fourth movie in the Bourne series titled the same as this book. However, the entire film is completely different from the book and in fact doesn’t revolve around Jason Bourne but a new character, Aaron Cross, who was built in the mold of Bourne. Having seen the film, it was quite a surprise to read the book. 

After reading the book I can see where Lustbader was talking Bourne's Legacy to and why the film producers took it in a totally different direction. Yet both book and movie show Bourne's Legacy in it's own unique way.

Another fantastic spy tale taking us into the world of master criminals planning for world dominance while the cursed spy is pushed to thwart the plans, all the while saving himself from being killed in the process. Lustbader has indeed kept Ludlum's legacy alive and well.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Alexander "Alex" Conklin and Morris "Mo" Panov, David/Jason's only best friends and confidantes are murdered. 

b. In The Bourne Supremacy, Undersecretary Edward Newington McAllister is promoted to be the chairman of the National Security Council. However we get introduced to Roberta Alonzo-Ortiz as the National Security Advisor. Is McAllister replaced by Roberta and the title changed? Or are they wo different roles completely?

c. It is revealed that Khan is Bourne's son Joshua from his first marriage who was deemed killed along with his daughter and wife in Phnom Penh. He comes to know of the conspiracy by the government in hiding the truth about Joshua. 

d. In the end of this plot as well, Spalko is shot and is thrown into the icy ocean in Iceland. However, it is not revealed that his body has been found. So will he resurface again?

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Conspirators who corral David/Jason again into a fight to survive for greater good are: Stepan "Shaykh" Spalko, disguised as a Hungarian Humanitarian; Chechen Rebels (Hasan Arsenov, head; Zina Hassiyev, Hasan's lover and his right-hand (wo)man; Magomet; Akhmet);  Dr. Peter Sido, an epedimiologist; Annaka Vadas, daughter of Janos Vadas who was a friend of Alex;

b. Various Agency people hunting Bourne: Kurt, Director of CIA; Martin Lindros, Deputy Director of CIA; Jamie Hull, Head of American Security in Iceland Summit; Roberta Alonzo-Ortiz, the National Security Advisor; Randy Driver, Director of Tactical Non-lethal Weapons Dept.; 

c. Local Law Enforcement working with the Conspirators: Detective Harry Harris; Inspector Alain Savoy of the Quai d'Orsay; Justine Berard, Savoy's agent; Detective Csilla; 

d. People who come to the Webbs' aid: Jack Kerry, a truck driver; Leonard Fine, a tailor; Deron, a forger; Jacques Robbinet, French Minister of Culture; Mylene "Mlle." Dutronc, Alex's lover; Ethan Hearn, Khan's mole in Spalko's company; Boris Illyich Karpo, Director of the FSB's Alpha Unit

e. In the very first book The Bourne Identity, we see that Carlos escapes in the end from Bourne, and that he is only one who knows how Carlos looks like. This character hadnt been expanded since. Lustbader references to Carlos again in this plot as well. So will Carlos be part of one of the books that Lustbader has written in this series since this book? One only can tell after reading those books I suppose. 

f. Jason Bourne resigns the CIA in this. However his son Joshua "Khan" Webb doesn’t join the family yet. So am guessing Lustbader's future books will focus on Joshua, or perhaps both Jason and Joshua. 

g. Some of the books and media Ludlum mentions along the plot:

i. Dhalgren by Samuel Delany from 1974.

ii. 1954 Hungarian film Underground by Emir Kusturica.

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 548, Line 9 from bottom, shouldn’t it be "…chance of it being…"?

b. Lustbader mentions about Republican Presidents adorning the walls of the US President's office. What about the Democrat Presidents? Arent their portraits present in the Oval Office or White House?


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