About me
About me

Review: The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 5 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 5 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

It’s not long since I reviewed the first in this series of books, Only Time Will Tell. If you recall, I gave that a rather positive rating, and praised the “phenomenal power of Archer’s storytelling”. I hope this demonstrates that, despite disliking the man, I’m not unduly averse to Archer’s writing, or even to this particular saga. But this second novel is terrible.

It seems to me that writing a series of novels is a difficult thing to do. There are, I think, two approaches. One can write a series of discrete plot-driven novels with connecting story arcs, whereby each novel – except perhaps the final few – stands alone, yet the sum of the novels is greater than its parts. Alternatively, one can write an epic story spanning several volumes, with small arcs satisfying the conditions of the multi-book format. What doesn’t work is splitting a continuous plot into several parts, with no obvious reason as to why the split has occurred.

This novel doesn’t stand alone, and has no more than a couple of chapter’s worth of plot in the context of the wider saga. Or perhaps 1.9 chapters, given that the single thread defining this novel is left incomplete. As a result, this book has more exceptionally dull filler than any other I’ve read.

I know that people are generally advised to “write about what you know”, but surely no-one can have failed to have groaned when a Jeffrey Archer protagonist wrote a prison diary. Nor when the same protagonist starts armed forces training. Nor when his first book sells wildly in North America, allowing a lucrative deal to be sealed for its UK distribution. Nor when a character becomes an MP. Nor when the plot moves to the House of Lords. It’s as though Archer has taken Private Eye’s Jeremy Longbow as inspiration rather than ridicule.

On a few occasions in the book, Archer seems to forget his own characters. One particularly memorable example comes towards the end, when the protagonist requires an explanation of the term “free vote”, despite displaying a voracious appetite for news and some interest in politics. Initially, I assumed that this was merely a badly deployed literary device used to explain an important plot point, but as the whole exchange was unnecessary for the plot, one can only assume that it’s another bit of filler.

The one advantage this volume has over its predecessor is that the repetitive structure, and the odd affliction of only the first chapter in each section being written in the first person, has been dropped. All other faults of the first volume remain: the ludicrous co-incidences, the politics bleeding through into the plot, the clichéd characters, and so on. Archer has promised “at least” five books in this series: at this rate, I can’t imagine there will be many readers left by the fifth.

The Sins of the Father is available now from amazon.co.uk in paperback and on Kindle.

This 1,871st post was filed under: Book Reviews, .

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 5th March 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th February 2018)

TV I’ve been watching lately (published 9th January 2018)

House Sharing (published 2nd December 2003)

‘Struggle’ to spend tsunami funds (published 16th February 2005)

Criminally bad service? (published 12th August 2006)

Photo-a-day 7: New Mango (published 7th January 2012)

Comments and responses

Trackback from elsewhere on the site

Trackback received at 12:30 on 17th April 2013.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » Review: Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer

Compose a new comment


You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.