King of Swords

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Book 1 of the Assassin series, King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.

The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico. Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" - a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.

King of Swords is a rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.

Q & A for King of Swords with author Russell Blake

Question: King of Swords is a no-holds-barred suspense thriller set in present-day Mexico. What books influenced you in creating it & how did you come up with the idea?

Russell Blake: Day of the Jackal, The Bourne trilogy and Shibumi. I wanted to create something that would give a nod to those works, but kick it up a notch - modernize them; crank them on steroids, leave readers gasping & cringing, revitalize the genre. I saw the G-20 in Cabo San Lucas, and thought it would be an ideal event in which to frame the quintessential assassination thriller, but with a "24" style storytelling sensibility & an unflinching description of the cartel violence pervading Mexico.

Q: King of Swords blends fact & fiction. What was the inspiration for using the drug cartels as the framework for the story, & where does truth end & invention begin?

RB: Mexico is fighting a civil war; the government against the narco-trafficking cartels. Around 8,000 people die every year as a result of cartel violence, including cops, military, cartel members, family, and innocent bystanders. It's a brutal industry that throws over $50 billion a year into cartel hands - more than the GDP of many nations. I want readers to see the very real cost in human terms, so the truth/fiction line is deliberately fuzzy. Everything I write is based loosely in fact, & it's up to the reader to determine where it leaves off.

Q: King of Swords is not for the meek, & is controversial in its graphic depiction of cartel violence and government complicity. Aren't you afraid you'll offend with it?

RB: The trafficking business is a bloody, vicious industry perpetrating horrific crimes against humanity. I wanted to capture the casual savagery that typifies it, the willingness of ordinary men to engage in extraordinary brutality. I wanted to highlight the psychological making of the monster. Readers' sensibilities should be offended. I want them squirming, pulled out of their comfort zone. If they aren't, if they sleep peacefully after reading it, or can put it down, I didn't do my job.

Q: King of Swords is much faster-moving than many thrillers. How did you achieve that effect, & are your other books anything like that?

RB: It's a pacing thing. I wanted to create an experience, not a book - to hurtle the reader along and leave them shaking from the adrenaline rush. There are tricks I developed to create, sustain, & amplify that pace that I played with in some of my earlier work. King of Swords for me is the ultimate expression of that "high-velocity read" approach to fiction.

Q: What made you want to write?

RB: I grew up on a steady diet of Ludlum and Forsyth and Le Carre and Trevanian. That evolved into an interest in telling those sorts of stories.
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About the author

Featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and The Times (UK), Russell Blake is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books, including the thriller novels Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET II - Betrayal, JET III - Vengeance, JET IV - Reckoning, JET V - Legacy, JET VI - Justice, JET VII - Sanctuary, JET - Ops Files (prequel), Upon A Pale Horse, BLACK, BLACK Is Back, BLACK Is The New Black, and BLACK To Reality.

Non-fiction include the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.

Blake's co-authored novel with legendary author Clive Cussler, titled The Eye of Heaven, will be released by Penguin in September, 2014.

Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. His blog can be found at RussellBlake.com where he publishes his periodic thoughts, such as they are.

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Reviews

4.3
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Additional Information

Publisher
Janda Management
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Published on
Mar 26, 2014
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Pages
331
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Action & Adventure
Fiction / Thrillers / General
Fiction / Thrillers / Military
Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Russell Blake
Code name: Jet

Twenty-eight-year-old Jet was once the Mossad's most lethal operative before faking her own death and burying that identity forever. But the past doesn't give up on its secrets easily.

When her new life on a tranquil island is shattered by a brutal attack, Jet must return to a clandestine existence of savagery and deception to save herself and those she loves. A gritty, unflinching roller-coaster of high-stakes twists and shocking turns, JET features a new breed of protagonist that breaks the mold.

Fans of Lisbeth Salander, SALT, and the Bourne trilogy will find themselves carried along at Lamborghini speed to a conclusion as surprising as the story's heroine is unconventional.

+ + +

Q & A w/ Russell Blake


Q: How would you describe JET?

Russell: The elevator pitch? Kill Bill meets Bourne. The longer version would be: JET follows the saga of a young woman who thought she had left a brutal covert life behind her, but finds herself having to go back into that world when she is attacked by enemies from her past. It's totally over-the-top, escapist fun, and not intended to be particularly realistic, any more than the Bond books were. More a non-stop action thrill ride where the heroine can totally kick serious ass.

Q: How does JET differ from your other novels?

R: I've never written anything as lightning-paced. It's completely and joyously overblown in the way a Tarantino film is. I wanted this to read like being in a scarab, slamming through the waves at ninety miles per hour - a rush that just doesn't stop. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. But having said that, what's weird about JET is that even though it's brimming with action, the use of language and artful description was a priority for me, and I think I struck a balance that's unusual and evocative. Whatever it is, it seems to work.

Q: JET's character is different than the other female protagonists you've written. What inspired her?

R: I got this idea when I was writing Silver Justice for a total take-no-prisoners female operative - sort of a female Jack Bauer crossed with James Bond, but way more deadly. From that idea came the seeds of an incredible story with more twists and surprises than I've ever tried for. But it also has a different sensibility. If there's such a thing as literary fiction action thrillers, I guess this might be it.

Q: Why the Mossad?

R: I wanted something that was exotic and had the reputation as highly effective, but wanted to avoid the usual CIA or KGB operative. And she's way too no-nonsense for MI6. That didn't leave a lot of choices. So the Mossad it was. I'd written an ex-Mossad operative once before in The Voynich Cypher & I think I sort of automatically leaned in that direction, and before I knew it the book was written.

Q: Your work has been described as cinematic. Why?

R: That's how I think. I see each episode or scene in my head, & then I write what I see. I try to provide enough depth so the reader is with me, but not so much that page flipping to get to the next good part is required. But I see each chapter as a scene - it's just how my brain works. I'm a creation of a modern world, raised on images & films, so I think that naturally affects my storytelling. Certainly the JET books are. Mission Impossible comes to mind.

Q: You mention Kill Bill and Bourne. How is this similar?

R: I loved Tarantino's take because it was so overblown in every way. Deliberately so. I wanted JET to read like that film played, but with a story more like Bourne. The idea of a female operative grappling with her past just captivated my imagination. You'll see why.
Russell Blake
JET VI - Justice continues the saga of the former Mossad operative as she battles to survive in a world intent on destroying her. From the streets of Argentina to the corridors of power in Moscow, her past continues to haunt her even as she flees it with all her heart.

Q&A with Russell Blake

Q: A sixth installment in your bestselling JET series. What's in store for her this time?

RB: Without giving away the plot, let's just say that no good deed goes unpunished, as is often the case in real life. I envisioned a story where a set of small events quickly spiral out of control, resulting in the usual mayhem and danger that fans of the series have come to expect.


Q: How does JET - Justice differ from earlier episodes?

RB: I wrote this one so that it really takes place over a period of 36 hours. I originally was shooting for 24 hours, but decided to stretch it some for plotting purposes. As such, it's a breakneck pace, where a lot happens in very little time. I also wanted to delve deeper into Jet's life in her new home, so that the dislocation when the poop hits the fan is even more jarring. I'm happy with the way it turned out, and think it works nicely.


Q: How much more do you see in the JET saga?

RB: You know, I originally envisioned this as four novels. Now it's six. And I already have two ideas for a continuation, so I think it's safe to say there will be at least one more. After that? Who knows. I really sort of want her to find peace in the end, but it doesn't seem in the stars quite yet.
Russell Blake
Code name: Jet

Twenty-eight-year-old Jet was once the Mossad's most lethal operative before faking her own death and burying that identity forever. But the past doesn't give up on its secrets easily.

When her new life on a tranquil island is shattered by a brutal attack, Jet must return to a clandestine existence of savagery and deception to save herself and those she loves. A gritty, unflinching roller-coaster of high-stakes twists and shocking turns, JET features a new breed of protagonist that breaks the mold.

Fans of Lisbeth Salander, SALT, and the Bourne trilogy will find themselves carried along at Lamborghini speed to a conclusion as surprising as the story's heroine is unconventional.

+ + +

Q & A w/ Russell Blake


Q: How would you describe JET?

Russell: The elevator pitch? Kill Bill meets Bourne. The longer version would be: JET follows the saga of a young woman who thought she had left a brutal covert life behind her, but finds herself having to go back into that world when she is attacked by enemies from her past. It's totally over-the-top, escapist fun, and not intended to be particularly realistic, any more than the Bond books were. More a non-stop action thrill ride where the heroine can totally kick serious ass.

Q: How does JET differ from your other novels?

R: I've never written anything as lightning-paced. It's completely and joyously overblown in the way a Tarantino film is. I wanted this to read like being in a scarab, slamming through the waves at ninety miles per hour - a rush that just doesn't stop. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. But having said that, what's weird about JET is that even though it's brimming with action, the use of language and artful description was a priority for me, and I think I struck a balance that's unusual and evocative. Whatever it is, it seems to work.

Q: JET's character is different than the other female protagonists you've written. What inspired her?

R: I got this idea when I was writing Silver Justice for a total take-no-prisoners female operative - sort of a female Jack Bauer crossed with James Bond, but way more deadly. From that idea came the seeds of an incredible story with more twists and surprises than I've ever tried for. But it also has a different sensibility. If there's such a thing as literary fiction action thrillers, I guess this might be it.

Q: Why the Mossad?

R: I wanted something that was exotic and had the reputation as highly effective, but wanted to avoid the usual CIA or KGB operative. And she's way too no-nonsense for MI6. That didn't leave a lot of choices. So the Mossad it was. I'd written an ex-Mossad operative once before in The Voynich Cypher & I think I sort of automatically leaned in that direction, and before I knew it the book was written.

Q: Your work has been described as cinematic. Why?

R: That's how I think. I see each episode or scene in my head, & then I write what I see. I try to provide enough depth so the reader is with me, but not so much that page flipping to get to the next good part is required. But I see each chapter as a scene - it's just how my brain works. I'm a creation of a modern world, raised on images & films, so I think that naturally affects my storytelling. Certainly the JET books are. Mission Impossible comes to mind.

Q: You mention Kill Bill and Bourne. How is this similar?

R: I loved Tarantino's take because it was so overblown in every way. Deliberately so. I wanted JET to read like that film played, but with a story more like Bourne. The idea of a female operative grappling with her past just captivated my imagination. You'll see why.
Russell Blake
JET V – Legacy is the fifth installment in the bestselling JET series, which follows the saga of the Mossad’s deadliest ex-operative, who faked her own death to escape her past. In this novel, JET is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep the ones she loves, and the world, safe.

Q&A with Russell Blake

Q: How is JET V – Legacy different than the prior JET novels?

Russell Blake: In JET V, I take a different perspective on her motivations, as well as try to conjure up a plot so racing that the reader is left gasping by the end of the novel. Certainly, Jet is always in crisis, but never more so than in this volume.

Q: What’s similar to the other novels?

RB: JET V takes place over a week, and picks up only a few days after JET IV finishes. So if you were to read them back-to-back, the action seems to continue without letup across the series. In JET II I sort of duplicated the pacing of the original JET, and then in JET III tried a slightly different approach. I’d say JET IV and V are very similar in terms of pace and style, with the fifth volume in the Assassin series, Blood of the Assassin, also very similar. That’s another way of saying that I believe these books have really hit the groove, entertaining without letup.

Q: How much more does JET have to go in the series?

RB: I originally said that I can see the series running five or six books. That's changed since around book four, where I can see it maybe going to seven or eight. I think there's more than enough left to tell to take it that far - I had to leave out some of the ideas I had in this one, and kept telling myself, "save it for JET VI." So there's your answer, which at this point, is clear as mud, I would think. That's my way of saying I have no idea. But I haven't grown bored of telling her story, which is a very good thing, I think. Same for the Assassin novels - I can see writing one or two per year for at least another few years, if not longer.
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