Book review: The Ends of the Earth

Robert GoddardDon’t do what I did, and read the first two books in this series by Robert Goddard and then leave 12 months before reading the third. Ideally this trilogy should be read back to back, in full sun when sitting on a sunlounger. The story runs along at a cracking pace, with dense plotting, loads of characters, politics, spies and locations from Europe to Japan. The pace of this, the third book, is constant, hardly time to draw a breath.

Questions that I had forgotten about from the first book are revisited, challenged and solved. Japan is the scene for the climax of this tale of James Maxted, ‘Max’, and his hunt for the truth about his father’s death. But this is so much more than a single case of murder, on it hangs the future of post-Great War Europe and the twentieth-century relationship of Japan and America. At times things happen which seem a little convenient, a person turns out to have a skill or history of which we knew nothing before, but I forgave Goddard for this. He is a prime storyteller. It is clear he knows his settings – Paris, Marseilles, Switzerland, Japan – and this adds to the verisimilitude.

In this rollicking spy story, Goddard examines the nature of courage. Max finds himself drawing on the type of bravery he needed to survive in the Royal Flying Corps. “He was not surprised by how calm he felt, how undismayed by what lay before him. He had discovered his aptitude for taking risks early in the war. ‘You should be more careful, sir’, Sam had said to him more than once. And Max had always given the same reply. ‘Being careful is what gets a chap killed.’ Eventually, he had come to believe that. And it was a belief that had served him well. So far.”

Read my reviews of the first two books in ‘The Wide World’ trilogy here:-
The Ways of the World
The Corners of the Globe

If you like ‘The Ends of the Earth’, try:-
‘Midnight in Europe’ by Alan Furst
‘Stay Where You Are and Then Leave’ by John Boyne
‘The Bone Church’ by Victoria Dougherty

‘The Ends of the Earth’ by Robert Goddard, The Wide World #3 [UK: Bantam Press] Buy now

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