If you have never read this Alistair MacLean classic from 1968, you are missing out on an incredibly tense adventure story. Personally I would rank it behind only Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal on my list of all-time favorite thrillers.
The book was a major bestseller when it came out, but it gets respect from the pros, too. In Dean Koontz’s book How To Write Bestselling Fiction, Koontz advises aspiring writers to read the last part of Force 10 From Navarone as the perfect example of a suspenseful situation and a climactic scene. The scene shown in the painting comes near the end of the story and features Mallory (an unforgettable character!) and Miller… and when that part gets resolved there’s still more excitement after that!
The book is the rare sequel that’s better than the original, though the original is darn good. I speak of The Guns of Navarone, published in 1957 and made into a movie in 1961.
That brings up an odd thing about Force 10, which begins on the same day the previous story ends. One early scene has Andrea Stavros (that’s a guy not a girl, and he’s another very memorable character) getting married, despite having no mention of any fiancée in the previous book! It turns out MacLean just wrote the sequel as if it were a sequel to the movie rather than to his own previous novel – the first time I had ever heard of that happening.
Force 10 was itself made into a movie in 1978 with Robert Shaw as Mallory, and with Miller being played by Edward Fox (best known as the Jackal in… now I’m back to mentioning the The Day of the Jackal again!).
Here’s the poster art for that movie, illustrated by Brian Bysouth.
Heritage has offered the poster now and then and it’s been quite affordable at $15-$20.
Anyway, the original illustration being auctioned this week is by Gil Cohen, one of the top illustrators for the now defunct genre of men’s adventure magazines. One such publication was the testosterone-laden Male Annual where this was published.
The art is being auctioned without reserve, so give it your best “shot”… as it were.