"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy--John le Carre's last tremendous success-ended with the devastating unmasking of a double agent at the heart of the British Secret Service (known as the Circus to le Carre's millions of readers round the world). Now, in The Honourable Schoolboy, George Smiley--who has assumed the unenviable job of restoring the health, and reputation, of his demoralized organisation--goes over to the attack. Salvaging what he can of the Service's ravaged network of spies, summoning back a few trustworthy old colleagues, working them--and himself-around the clock, he searches for a whisper, a hint, a clue that will lead him back to his opposite number: Karla, the Soviet officer in Moscow Centre who mastermined the infamous treachery.
When he finds his opening, Smiley moves without hesitation. His battleground: the Far East. His choice of weapons: the Honourable Gerald (Jerry) Westerby, an Old Asia Hand,veteran of several marriages (and wars), unquestioning in his readiness to asnwer Smiley's summons. 'You point me and I'll march', says Jerry.
Jerry's odyssey begins: to Hong Kong-and blackmail and murder; to collapsing Cambodia and Vietnam-and drug traffickers, the CIA, and a huge and mystifying 'gold seam' spilling out of Russia. Slowly, manipulated by Smiley and his cohorts back in the Circus, Jerry thrusts himself into the centre of an intrigue of money, defection, passion--and finds not only fertile ground for Smiley's revenge, but a drama of loyalty and love that both tests his courage and spurs his belated coming of age, in tragic defiance of the voracious requirements of the trice which owns his allegiance."
For the first three quarters or so I thought this was probably the best Le Carre I've read so far. Then some things happened that I didn't believe, and all bets were off.
Overall the story was good - following the middle part of the end of George Smiley's career - but I've noted something about the writing in these books now that bugs me: the point of view wanders. Sometimes it's omniscient, sometimes it's from the perspective of a single character, sometimes it's from the perspective of some review or report written after the fact, and so on. The changes aren't clearly delineated, and (in fact) I think I saw changes of these sorts mid chapter.
I'm not sure what to make of Le Carre's take on his characters either. No one is presented in a great light, but perhaps that has to do with the nature of the spy business.
In any case the Karla trilogy was very popular and makes for interesting reading, even if there are some issues with the writing.
Carre simplest fictional sky master.
Its the 70s and the British Empire is coming apart at the seams; The operation in Hong Kong, a last bastion of the Empire, is being shuttered; in the wake of the Karla scandal, so are most others in the East and Europe. Enter Smiley; back on the track of his nemesis, Karla! If you havent read Le Carres Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, you may want to do so before tackling this book. There are numerous flashbacks in this sequel, and many of the same characters.
Another great espionage tale involving George Smiley!
George Smiley has become chief of the battered British Secret Service. The betrayals of a Soviet double agent have riddled the spy network. Smiley wants revenge. He chooses his weapon: Jerry Westerby, the "Honourable Schoolboy", a passionate lover and a seasoned, reckless secret agent. So begins the terrifying game....