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“He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” In the Middle East, refugees fleeing dictatorship and terrorism pour across the borders into Europe, destabilizing countries already in the throes of economic crisis. But not all who seek refuge share the same reasons for so doing. . . In the UK, the nationalist far Right gathers strengt “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” In the Middle East, refugees fleeing dictatorship and terrorism pour across the borders into Europe, destabilizing countries already in the throes of economic crisis. But not all who seek refuge share the same reasons for so doing. . . In the UK, the nationalist far Right gathers strength—fueled by a government unable or unwilling to protect its own. England is on the brink. All it will take to send it tumbling into the abyss. . .is a single push. And in the midst of it all, two men have arrived in London, dark harbingers of death to come. One of them is a terrorist, responsible for one of the most successful attacks against the West in the years since 9/11. The other, an assassin, come to take his life. Fifteen years Harry Nichols spent as a CIA paramilitary operations officer. Fifteen long years of war, tracking America’s enemies across the world. Hunting them down—killing them. Before they could strike. Until the Christmas Eve attacks on Las Vegas forced him to resign from the Agency. Attacks which killed hundreds of innocent Americans, claimed the life of the woman he had sworn to protect. The woman he loved. Forced out into the cold, Nichols has found himself in the UK, operating without sanction, without law. A man without a country—come to London with a single purpose: kill the man responsible for the attacks in Vegas. Avenge her death. No matter what it takes. What lines must be crossed. What faiths must be betrayed. There are no rules, not any more. Only vengeance. His career with the CIA is over. His war. . .has only just begun.


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“He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” In the Middle East, refugees fleeing dictatorship and terrorism pour across the borders into Europe, destabilizing countries already in the throes of economic crisis. But not all who seek refuge share the same reasons for so doing. . . In the UK, the nationalist far Right gathers strengt “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” In the Middle East, refugees fleeing dictatorship and terrorism pour across the borders into Europe, destabilizing countries already in the throes of economic crisis. But not all who seek refuge share the same reasons for so doing. . . In the UK, the nationalist far Right gathers strength—fueled by a government unable or unwilling to protect its own. England is on the brink. All it will take to send it tumbling into the abyss. . .is a single push. And in the midst of it all, two men have arrived in London, dark harbingers of death to come. One of them is a terrorist, responsible for one of the most successful attacks against the West in the years since 9/11. The other, an assassin, come to take his life. Fifteen years Harry Nichols spent as a CIA paramilitary operations officer. Fifteen long years of war, tracking America’s enemies across the world. Hunting them down—killing them. Before they could strike. Until the Christmas Eve attacks on Las Vegas forced him to resign from the Agency. Attacks which killed hundreds of innocent Americans, claimed the life of the woman he had sworn to protect. The woman he loved. Forced out into the cold, Nichols has found himself in the UK, operating without sanction, without law. A man without a country—come to London with a single purpose: kill the man responsible for the attacks in Vegas. Avenge her death. No matter what it takes. What lines must be crossed. What faiths must be betrayed. There are no rules, not any more. Only vengeance. His career with the CIA is over. His war. . .has only just begun.

30 review for Embrace the Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    GUNPOWDER TREASON AND PLOT “I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”. - 17th century nursery rhyme. “Forgiveness is between them and God. It’s our job to arrange the meeting.”- USMC creed. “Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?”- Nina Simone It can be said that the year 2016 has been one of chaos. Great power issues are returning with a vengeance, the economic pie is toast and worst of all, extremism is in fashion. For the public at large, it seems that the crazier, louder GUNPOWDER TREASON AND PLOT “I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”. - 17th century nursery rhyme. “Forgiveness is between them and God. It’s our job to arrange the meeting.”- USMC creed. “Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?”- Nina Simone It can be said that the year 2016 has been one of chaos. Great power issues are returning with a vengeance, the economic pie is toast and worst of all, extremism is in fashion. For the public at large, it seems that the crazier, louder and more violent you are, the more popular a fellow becomes. That rage, can lead the masses towards many different destinations, like off a cliff for starters. In the 21st century, it’s not just the Islamic fanatics who have the spotlight, now it’s the far left and far right sections of western politics who have found this year a golden opportunity to have the madness they preach lapped up by the desperate multitudes of society who have been made to believe that they’re doomed and in need of silver bullets. The only problem being is that these metaphorical bullets cause much collateral damage when fired. Like taking out countries for instance. How do you kill a country? WMD’s are impractical and expensive. And while the weapons of science fiction such as rail guns and hypersonic missiles are becoming reality, they do not have the power to erase a country from existence. Target infrastructure? The author Brad Thor tried that in his book “Act of War”, and while the result would kill a country, there were too many moving parts in his scheme. To really kill a country in a cost effective, yet efficient fashion, you need to go back to the old saying “divide and conquer”. One needs to get as many sections of the public murdering each other so that the societal fabric that holds a nation together is eviscerated. And to do that, a lot of manipulation, hyperbole, lies, a spot of violence and even one or two good intentions goes a long way. To kill a country could be the alternative title of “Embrace the Fire”, the third full length novel of indie published spy novelist and amazon superstar Stephen England. He’s living proof that an author does not necessarily need an elaborately negotiated deal with a large publishing house to write a good story. Mr England’s “Shadow Warriors” series is centred on the life and times of Harry Nicholas, a recently fired officer of the CIA Special Activities Division. Once tasked with the liquidation of the Islamic terrorists and all who supported them, Nicholas hit a mental rock bottom in book 2 when he was unable to stop a terrorist incident that, like a runaway freight train, tore through hundreds of innocent civilians, and flattened the woman he was falling in love with. Deemed no longer capable of carrying out his duties as a killer in a dispassionate manner, Nicholas was made redundant by the Company. But with free time on his hands and having been consumed by a desire for revenge, Harry snuck over to Great Britain where he believes the man responsible for the events of “Day Of Reckoning” is hiding. He lands during a time of terror. The populist political right is attempting to give British democracy enough rope to hang itself. Islamist extremists are scheming away to target the most important people in the UK. And worst of all, the Security Services and Harry’s former bosses as the Company, realize that he’s still in play and attempt to meddle in his campaign to get justice. Now to the review. What if it were possible to send an entire country down the highway to hell with your good intentions? We start the novel with the protagonist Harry Nicholas walking in the dark, metaphorically and physically. He’s paying a house call on someone he knows, a British Pakistani MI5 officer by the name of Mehreen Crawford. She’s the recently widowed wife of an old friend. They talk, he guarded, she surprised and concerned. After some verbal cut and thrust, Crawford manages to wrangle out the reason why her husband’s American friend has walked back into her life. Harry is blunt. He wants to kill a man. The man in question is introduced a page later. Tarik Abdul Muhammed, Islamist terrorist who demolished much of the Las Vegas strip in the author’s excellent second book “Day Of Reckoning”. After his morning prayers, he’s greeted with the unwelcome news that his enemies know exactly where he is. We then cut to Crawford’s fellow employees at the security services. The most important are Julian Marsh, director of MI5 who has an unwelcome joint surveillance operation with the CIA landing on his in – tray and Darren Roth, Special Boat Service veteran and the hatchet man of MI5. Roth realizes something significant is happening when he’s handed a SIG-Sauer P229 and told to ensure the “cousins” don’t do any shenanigans. He is also ordered to monitor one man in particular, Thomas Parker, Special Activities Division officer and government assassin. Harry and the intelligence services make their preparations, each preparing to go after Tarik. Nicholas hacks Crawford’s phone so he can monitor progress of the surveillance operation and know where his man is being tracked to. He also acquires weapons from an Agency asset by the name of Stephen Flattery an IRA terrorist turned arms dealer. In between these plot lines, several others are expertly introduced. The nephew of Crawford is cultivated by Islamic terrorists for radicalization. Tarik begins making inroads into the world of British jihadists. A right wing newspaper publisher and his security consultant bemoan the state of the UK. And across the Atlantic a US Senator is horrified to discover a piece of legislation that would lay waste to his nation’s foreign intelligence gathering capability. On the big day at Leeds city station, just as Nicholas is within range of putting a bullet in his target’s spine, Tarik gets texted with directions on how to avoid the people who are about to arrest him. He follows them, is promptly kidnapped and taken off to a moor up North. There he comes face to face with Arthur Collerville, newspaper baron. Collerville is a fanatic like Tarik, but of a diametrically opposed ideology. Xenophobic, outrageously nationalistic and loathing of all Muslims, peacefully moderate, radically violent and any in-between. Being someone who believes the British establishment no longer has the fortitude to rule Britain in a way benefitting the citizens of the nation he loves, Collerville decided to craft a silver bullet, one which he believes would allow him to terminate the things in his way with extreme prejudice. Offering Tarik a partnership, one which is self-serving on both sides, Collerville dives head on into treason and proposes to sponsor a terrorist attack, one which Tarik and the Islamists whom he’s been getting to know will play center stage in. Tarik accepts the offer and just before the meeting breaks up, Harry is rumbled by Collerville’s security detail. Running for his life, Nicholas kills his pursuer and to his horror, discovers his victim is a British soldier whom he knows from his previous life. The killing sets off alarm bells in Thames House who realize there are several unknown quantities in the mission to hunt the terrorist. With time running out, Harry Nicholas, a man who has lost his country, allegiances and everything he’s cared about, races across Britain to bring one of the world’s most dangerous men to an early grave, before his target kills the most important family in the United Kingdom. In terms of plot, Embrace the Fire can only be described as an espionage epic. Very rarely does a spy novel turn out to have the scale and scope of this book. The only other recent series which comes close is the six book Ryan Drake saga by Will Jordan. England however takes a different approach to Jordan’s clash of espionage demigods. His books, which focus on a former government assassin who has many bad days, are the literary equivalent of a “24” season mixed with the real world accuracy of Tom Clancy. That means while well researched and full of action, guns and explosions, they are packed with more psychological brutality than the Scott Harvath and Mitch Rapp books combined and devoid of the Pax Americana wish fulfilment inherent in both characters. While paying tribute to the resilience of the covert and overt American warriors in the world today, they do not glorify the profession of spying and killing and show how wretched it can make the men and women who operate in the twisted shadows hidden behind civilization’s curtain. As for the story of Embrace the fire itself, it came at the right time. With its snapshot of a first world nation torn asunder by social, economic and political divisions and plagued by extremist violence, such a scenario is by far the most chillingly relevant spy novel plot of 2016. Evoking real world issues, like terrorism, great power geopolitics, economic hardship, changing demographics and a broken law enforcement infrastructure, the author intensifies their severity to breaking point to craft the dark, twisted fictional universe Harry Nicholas is a resident of. It’s a world which seeks to subvert and crush underfoot the most overused tropes of spy fiction Embrace The Fire is a book which incinerates Boy Scout idealism, sets wish fulfilment ablaze and toasts the very idea that you can do horrible things for the right reasons and not have consequences fall on you like a heavenly thunderbolt, three conventions which for better or worse, hijacked espionage fiction in the last decade and drained much creative potential out of the genre. The author however is not a man who plays safe and is perfectly willing to thrill his readers by kicking them off the proverbial cliff and only tossing a plot relevant parachute when they’re halfway down and feeling genuine excitement, interest and terror. Action and setting? Well having previously written 2 full length novels and three short stories, crafting exciting moments of violence has become second nature to the author. Being a writer of “Christian” thrillers, at first glance, most thriller readers who have been brought up on profanity spewing, macho heroes would laugh at England. There’s not a single swear word in his books or gratuitous sex for that matter. But those people would rue underestimating how dark Embrace the Fire can get. England’s spy novels feature the best and worst of human nature on display and when he comes to focusing on the worst, the proceedings involve many bodies hitting the floor. From a lone wolf terrorist hacking his way with a machete through London’s largest gay nightclub, to gun battles in the woods of North England, the story even takes us to a destructive siege of the holiday house belonging to the most important family in Britain and finally climaxes with a messy, chaotic assassination in a Scottish container port. And inter-spaced with the set pieces are acts of violence which help enhance the doom and gloom during the quiet moments. Riots, bombings of Mosques, dirty little murders and torture in forgotten streets here and there. The violence in this spy novel is no mere afterthought, while thrilling, it’s also statement on how dehumanizing such actions can be, if done on a national scale. Such a statement is rare in the genre and I commend the author for adding that subtext. Research? There are a lot of indie thriller writers out there, and mainstream novelists who skimp in this area. Stephen England however, would never be caught dead getting the real world details that go into the fictional narratives he weaves wrong. The amount of research he does for his spy novels would quite literally blow your mind. From accurately name checking the firearms used and giving a decent portrayal of their actual capabilities, he then goes further, much further. From showing the complexities of modern physical and electronic surveillance, to assault and close protection tactics, the RAF air procedures in an event of a national crisis and even the interplay and dynamics of asset cultivation and Islamist radicalization, I confess that I’m scratching the surface. What amazes me is that he’s been able to integrate a national archive’s worth of real world detail into his book without it disrupting the narrative flow. Mr England equals if not surpasses many of his mainstream published counterparts in the research department and only a few of England’s fellow indie published novelists come close to his level of accuracy, which borders on actual “insider” knowledge. Now to characters. Mr England has always been productive in his department, and “Embrace the Fire” is no exception. There were so many stand outs in the story that I regret that I can only give some limited mentions. Well here goes. First, we have Harry Nicholas our anti – hero. As noted previously, he’s hit a psychological rock bottom with the foundation of his world, his job being snatched from him. With nothing left to lose, especially with Tarik Abdul Mohammed stealing his one chance for a normal life, Nicholas is on a mission to drag the Jihadist down with him to the fires of hell itself. Hence, unlike his days as a professional killer, where he was a criminal with a government pay cheque, Nicholas has nothing limiting him anymore. No “morality pet”, no “presidential findings” and not a single shred of remorse or doubt. He’s now a man who is willing to leave a river of blood from one end of Britain to the other, and that is what he proceeds to do in this book, racking up a body count that even Jack Bauer at his very worst would have a hard time equaling. From using a well-paced chain of omissions which sends a friend of his on the road to ruin, to incapacitating a MI5 surveillance team with almost lethal force, Nicholas does some very ghastly stuff in this story, That being said, England manages to perform a classic balancing act with Harry’s characterization. Another review mentioned how Nicholas admits he’s doing this job for selfish reasons, after a lifetime dutifully fighting for his country. That makes him much more sympathetic unlike the antagonists who delude themselves into justifying their atrocities with self-righteousness. Despite living in a world gone mad, Nicholas is the only honest man, who has a clear, sympathetic mission which he does not deviate from during the novel’s events. You share his suffering at several points in the story when he’s about to fall and pray he succeeds. Next we have Mehreen Crawford and Stephen Flahatry. Crawford is the MI5 officer whose world falls apart during the events of the novel. As a Pakistani British citizen who is a member of the security services, she’s caught between cultures and worlds. A patriotic woman who fights for her adopted homeland, she’s also divided from certain members of her family that hate the life she’s chosen to live. Her plot line in the story is one of the most compelling, due to the troubles that land on her plate. From quietly assisting Harry and balancing her commitment to MI5, she’s also met with the unwelcome news that her nephew is an Islamist terrorist. If Nicholas is the only honest man in the story, than Crawford is the only honest woman who tries to endure the cruel world she lives in and do the right thing, even if she gets hurt in the process. Her story is a very tragic one as you shall discover. As for Stephen Flahatry, England created one of this year’s surprises. Flahatry is the arms dealer Harry uses to get weapons, but whose involvement becomes more long term due to a series of unfortunate events. A former IRA bomb maker, Flahatry is a gleeful cynic whose ideological illusions were crushed long ago. As a terrorist from a simpler time, you wouldn’t expect him to become the borderline deutertagonist of the story. While not a spy, Flahatry is a cunning, tough man forged in the fires of the Irish troubles. An old dog, but one whose teeth take large chunks out of whoever he bites. Providing much of the black comedy in the story with his snarky commentary on Harry’s roaring rampage of revenge, he also surprises in another way. While Harry is on his way down, Flahatry soon finds himself on a mission to redeem himself by doing one good thing in his life, namely help destroy a man far worse than himself. Now the Villains. I'll focus on two, Collerville and Hale. Collerville is a most despicable individual. The owner of a paper that for all intents and purposes is the Daily Express with the serial numbers filed off, he combines the machinations of the American Steve Bannon with the messiah – like ego of Khomeini. Like his business partner Tarik, Collerville is a dishonest man. Self-deluding himself with self-righteous designs of violently reshaping the political situation in his country, he believes that the treason and murder he’s sanctioning is justified by a greater good. But ultimately, Arthur is nothing more than a grubby crook who’s willing to burn down Britain just for the chance to rule over the ashes. He’s such a loathsome fellow that you will cheer like I did when he finally panics and finds he can’t negotiate with death and the hollow point bullets sent his way. Next, Hale, a former SAS trooper turned trouble shooter for Collerville. Unlike his boss who at his core is a fundamentally selfish fellow, Hale is a true believer who has lapped up the ideology of his employer. Having served his country well and fought with distinction in the regiment, Connor soon found himself at the end of his rope, finding fighting the endless war a wearisome task. Desperate for a solution to a problem that would destroy the country he loved, Hale decided to follow a man who he thought would provide a “silver bullet”, to solve the ills plaguing the UK, Collerville. Like his employer, Hale is suffering from his own self - delusions. But his are rather more meaningful especially due to make several good points about the one hand tied behind the back mentality that has caused counter –terrorism efforts much grief. So, Embrace The Fire. My verdict is this. Stephen England has written the best spy novel of 2016, period. A glorious, scary book that seeks to take life imitating art to a whole new level, with its cast of highly damaged yet engrossing characters, operatic scope and coolly realistic vision of the world as it is, rather than what we wish it could be, the book is a complex, brave work of espionage fiction that deserves more attention than it will sadly receive as an independently published novel. Three years ago, I wrote that Mr England had written "the perfect spy thriller for our time--chaotic, cynical, with only a few good men keeping the barbarians from the gate." And in 2016, that sentence is still more than appropriate to describe his third full length novel. In these chaotic times we live in, many of you would wish for escapism in the fiction you read. I argue however, that the world needs more spy thrillers like “Embrace the Fire”. This is a book which makes us aware of how dangerous the world is, makes us more appreciative of the men and women who sacrifice normal lives and their very humanity itself to protect the rest of us, and forces us to cast aside any delusions, self-pity or willful blindness that we might entertain in our darkest hours. With Mr England ending his book in his characteristically brave and blunt manner, I can only sit back and marvel at what he’s accomplished as a spy novelist and wait with bated breath, to see how Harry Nicholas escapes the presence of his enemies to live and die another day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Jr.

    One of the greatest joys of reading a novel series is watching both the characters and the author mature and hit their stride. Stephen England's SHADOW WARRIORS series started with a bang with PANDORA'S GRAVE, a complex tale of tactical espionage and political intrigue, all while delivering well-researched information about Iran and jihadists. DAY OF RECKONING was a step above and beyond PANDORA'S GRAVE, upping the ante on intrigue, delving into topical discussions on the release of Guantanmo deta One of the greatest joys of reading a novel series is watching both the characters and the author mature and hit their stride. Stephen England's SHADOW WARRIORS series started with a bang with PANDORA'S GRAVE, a complex tale of tactical espionage and political intrigue, all while delivering well-researched information about Iran and jihadists. DAY OF RECKONING was a step above and beyond PANDORA'S GRAVE, upping the ante on intrigue, delving into topical discussions on the release of Guantanmo detainees, and bringing added depth to the Harry Nichols character with his romance with Carol Chambers, an analyst and estranged daughter of CIA Director David Lay. England built up the possibility of a happy ending throughout the book, then pulled the rug from beneath Nichols by having the main antagonist, Tarik Abdul Muhammad, murder Chambers during a terrorist attack, then have Nichols canned from his job as a paramilitary officer. Three years later, England finally brings us EMBRACE THE FIRE. It was well worth the wait. Given England's audience is pretty politically conservative, he takes a risk with EMBRACE THE FIRE by introducing publisher Arthur Colville and his flunky, former 22nd SAS operator Conor Hale, the leaders of a Britain First-type white identity political group dedicated to purging Muslims from British soil. Colville and Conor collude with Tarik Abdul Muhammad to plunge Britain head-first into a race war. This plot is entwined with Nichols's thirst for revenge, working off the reservation to kill Tarik; Thomas Parker liaising with MI-5 to hunt Tarik; Nichol's handler seduction of his friend's widow, Mehreen Crawford; and an overarching series subplot involving Senator Roy Coftey and his attempts to stop the new presidential administration from dismantling the intelligence community. The gamble, in my opinion, paid off in spades, and was released in a timely fashion where one of the major political candidates in the US elections harbors similar political beliefs to Colville. He does it in a way that does not come off as preachy, and yet, manages to warn of the dangers of ultra-nationalism and race-identity politics as dangers that rival those of jihadism. Another point of remark would be the shift in the Nichols character. He is darker, more morose, more deceptive, willing to manipulate people due to the tunnel vision he has to kill Tarik. England delves into the complexities of being a case officer, and we see the worst aspects of it in Nichols's interactions with Mehreen Crawford and former IRA terrorist/CIA asset/current weapons dealer Stephen Flaharty. All of the above shows that England has matured as a writer. He has truly hit his stride in EMBRACE THE FIRE and I predict that he will only get better from here. The book sets the stage for the next entry in the series. I can only hope that we do not have to wait three years for it, but if we must, I have no doubt that it will be worth the wait.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    Author Stephen England just keeps getting better and better. “Embrace the Fire” is the third full-length novel in the Shadow Warrior series and, amazingly, it is even better than the first two books. That’s a difficult statement for me to make because I loved the first two. I’ve read a boatload of novels with a similar premise (present day, anti-terrorism, rogue CIA agent, etc.) and quite frankly I don’t look for these much anymore because they all tend to meld together in my mind. Usually, afte Author Stephen England just keeps getting better and better. “Embrace the Fire” is the third full-length novel in the Shadow Warrior series and, amazingly, it is even better than the first two books. That’s a difficult statement for me to make because I loved the first two. I’ve read a boatload of novels with a similar premise (present day, anti-terrorism, rogue CIA agent, etc.) and quite frankly I don’t look for these much anymore because they all tend to meld together in my mind. Usually, after I’ve finished reading one, I can’t even summarize the plot after a week or so. But not so with this series. The action picks up shortly after the calamitous events of book two, Day of Reckoning and the ride, my friends, is as unpredictable as it is dangerous and exciting. This is a much longer novel than the first two books, and at first I was concerned that it would get bogged down with too many details, characters, etc. But it doesn’t read that way at all. There are quite a few characters to absorb and several subplots but they all weave together beautifully. It was really interesting to see the moral dilemmas faced by Harry Nichols, the main character, as well as others. I found myself making excuses in order to spend more time reading this book because I wanted to spend time with the characters and with the rapidly evolving and perilous situations they were facing. And the plot…oh, the plot! I certainly won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon. And the ending, while complete, tee’s up the next book in the series perfectly. I only wish that one would be available now…

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Benham

    626 pages and Stephen needed every one of them for all the action. Some authors might have cut the story short and leave the reader anticipating the conclusion in the next novel. Such is not the case here. In a nut shell, Harry Nichols is after the terrorist that killed his girlfriend. The terrorist, Tarik, is in England. MI5 and the CIA both know where he is, but only want to keep an eye on him. Both governments have their own agenda. Harry has been forced out of the CIA, so he is on his own. W 626 pages and Stephen needed every one of them for all the action. Some authors might have cut the story short and leave the reader anticipating the conclusion in the next novel. Such is not the case here. In a nut shell, Harry Nichols is after the terrorist that killed his girlfriend. The terrorist, Tarik, is in England. MI5 and the CIA both know where he is, but only want to keep an eye on him. Both governments have their own agenda. Harry has been forced out of the CIA, so he is on his own. While he is trying to find the terrorist, he uncovers a plot to kill the royal family. Nobody wants to take the threat seriously, so he risks everything to stop it. Well worth the wait!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bodo Pfündl

    Good people die… WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk! Stephen England’s third full-length novel is a beast of a book, juggling multiple plot lines and a vast cast of primary and secondary characters and combining it with a pitch black (and sadly very realistic) study of today’s deeply divided western society. All this is culminating in England’s most complex and compelling work to date and one of the best and darkest pieces of spy fiction, currently out there! If “Embrace the F Good people die… WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk! Stephen England’s third full-length novel is a beast of a book, juggling multiple plot lines and a vast cast of primary and secondary characters and combining it with a pitch black (and sadly very realistic) study of today’s deeply divided western society. All this is culminating in England’s most complex and compelling work to date and one of the best and darkest pieces of spy fiction, currently out there! If “Embrace the Fire” would have been released two years earlier, a lot of naïve people might have thought the events described in this book to be far-fetched. But after last year’s devastating attacks in Paris and the recent one in Brussels, even those people should know better. But even the most compelling and thought-provoking story needs great characters, which breathe life into it and this novel his so many of them! But I will have to focus on three standouts: First we have Harrold “Harry” Nichols. The former CIA’s paramilitary officer is out for blood for the loss of the woman he loved. It is only thanks to Mr. England’s nuanced characterization, that Nichols remains a flawed hero to root for, despite the sometimes horrible lengths he is willing to go to for his vengeance. And that is perhaps the author’s most remarkable achievement: On the outside Nichols’ methods are not very different from those of the novel’s villains. But because Harry isn’t deluding himself about his motives like them – he knows there is no greater good behind his actions – it is so much easier to relate to him and share his pain. Because even if he lies to everyone around him most of the time, Harry is brutally honest with himself. You just want to see this “wounded underdog” succeed! Next is Mehreen Crawford, a very talented threat-analyst with the British MI5 and the widow of a former friend of Harry’s (for more background on him and some other matters, I highly recommend England’s novella “Lodestone”). Being the daughter of Pakistani parents, who immigrated into the UK, she not only has to deal with the loss of her husband, but also tries to honor her heritage, while living a modern, western life. Besides Harry, Mehreen has to go through the most turmoil, as the story progresses. Not only must she face the threat of radicalization within her own family, but also that of a mole inside her agency. On top of that, she is forced to cooperate with the “murderer” of her husband to stop a devastating terrorist attack on British soil. I warmed up to her pretty quickly and was deeply moved by her struggle! The next standout is the one, who secretly steals the show from the others. Meet Stephen Flaharty, former PIRA terrorist and bomb maker. A greedy SOB on the outside, he is perhaps the only character in this story actually trying to redeem himself and like Harry, he has no illusions of himself fighting for a noble course anymore. He also has a great sense of humor and is a perfect example, that the world just can’t be divided into black and white. I hope to see more of him in future novels! Rounding this masterpiece out, are the cinematic action sequences and the meticulous attention to detail, which Mr. England displays in his research. Two traits, which frequent readers of the Shadow Warriors Series, have come to expect and greatly appreciate! But what let this book even surpass its brilliant predecessor “Day of Reckoning” is that the author made me believe Nichols would really die at the end! It would have fitted his character, but frankly I’m just too committed into his journey to approve of it ending just yet and I can’t wait to find out, how it continues!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Walsh

    I have read all of Mr. England's previous books, and enjoyed them immensely. Each were "heart-pounding thrillers keeping one on the edge of his/her seat. I could not put the books down and read them in one sitting. I had to find out if the terror attack succeeded and who was killed. When I saw the that "Embrace the Fire" had significantly more pages than his other efforts, I immediately had two thoughts. The first, "Oh my God. How can I finish this in one sitting?". I know I won't rest until I f I have read all of Mr. England's previous books, and enjoyed them immensely. Each were "heart-pounding thrillers keeping one on the edge of his/her seat. I could not put the books down and read them in one sitting. I had to find out if the terror attack succeeded and who was killed. When I saw the that "Embrace the Fire" had significantly more pages than his other efforts, I immediately had two thoughts. The first, "Oh my God. How can I finish this in one sitting?". I know I won't rest until I find out the ending. The second, "How can he possibly keep the suspense going through so many pages?" Well, taking the second thought first -- Mr. England kept the suspense going at a very high level for the entire book. I constantly was thinking, "OK, Harry Nichols has that problem solved, but another one, worse than previous has arisen. What now? Is the looming tragedy going to be averted." As to the first -- I could not finish the book in one sitting. I reluctantly had to go to bed. Now to specifics (without spoilers). Harry Nichols has been banished from the CIA, and in the UK tracking down a terrorist responsible for a terror attack in Las Vegas in the previous book. He finds the UK in the midst of a strong anti-Islam movement and learns of a potential terror attack on British soil. He uses his contacts in British Intelligence and contacts an former member of the militant wing of the IRA to assist him in preventing the terror attack. He learns that the attack may be directly on the queen. The race is on to "Save the Queen". I will not reveal what happens but there are multiple surprises. I can't recommend this book, as well as the previous two in the Shadow Warriors series, highly enough.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ross Sidor

    There are throwaway thrillers that are quickly read for entertainment and easily forgotten, and then there are thrillers that are engrossing and fully immersive, with richly drawn characters, subtext and nuance, and complex, carefully layered plotting, that stay with you after you've finished. Embrace the Fire is firmly within the latter category. Following the events of the previous book, former CIA officer Harry Nichols is in the UK on a personal vendetta to track down and kill master terroris There are throwaway thrillers that are quickly read for entertainment and easily forgotten, and then there are thrillers that are engrossing and fully immersive, with richly drawn characters, subtext and nuance, and complex, carefully layered plotting, that stay with you after you've finished. Embrace the Fire is firmly within the latter category. Following the events of the previous book, former CIA officer Harry Nichols is in the UK on a personal vendetta to track down and kill master terrorist Tariq Muhammed. Also pursuing Tariq is MI5. As both parties close in on the target, yet a third actor, a wealthy right wing nationalist with a small, private army of ex-SAS soldiers at his disposal, intervenes, swoops Tariq away to safety, and proposes an unlikely alliance. And this sets in motion a shadow war that will be waged across the UK between a cast of some two dozen characters, many of dubious personal loyalties and motivations, all of whose paths will intersect at one point, culminating in a tense and riveting climax. The final 20% of this book is some of the most engaging and suspenseful I have read in some time. Despite the book's length, the pages fly by quickly. England's prose has a nice flow and cadence to it. His writing is very fluid and visual, filled with quick, constant cuts between scenes. It feels more like watching a season of a TV series rather than reading a 500-plus page novel. England is easily on the same level as authors like Daniel Silva in terms of prose and characterization, and Clancy in terms in of plotting and detail. This is a realistic thriller with a huge cast of multi-faceted characters and numerous plot twists and surprises. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Wilson

    A tingling emotional spy thriller Writing a novel of this length takes a long time to accomplish, but this one turns out to be well worth the wait. From the first page I knew there would be no regrets for having remained faithful to this author. Mr. England has gone beyond his previous performances with the pen in this blazing book. Harry Nichols is no longer an instrument of the CIA having resignation forced upon him after the attack on the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the death of Carol an ever burni A tingling emotional spy thriller Writing a novel of this length takes a long time to accomplish, but this one turns out to be well worth the wait. From the first page I knew there would be no regrets for having remained faithful to this author. Mr. England has gone beyond his previous performances with the pen in this blazing book. Harry Nichols is no longer an instrument of the CIA having resignation forced upon him after the attack on the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the death of Carol an ever burning presence in his mind and heart. Now Harry is on his on, out in the cold as they say, bent on killing Tarik Abdul Muhammad the terrorist who orchestrated the Vegas attack in which Carol lost her life at the hands of this man. We find Tarik Abdul Muhammad on British soil seeking revenge for the assassination of Prince Yusuf, his comrade in terrorism and financier of the Vegas attacks. The act of terrorism to be carried out by Muhammad is one of unthinkable horror that will have far reaching consequences for the British Isles and beyond. Will Harry, in his quest to track down and kill Tarik Abdul Muhammad, uncover this plot in time to deprive the terrorist of his revenge? It's a long shot as Harry works undercover one step ahead of being found out by the British Security Service and CIA. A long shot in which sorrow and pain is Harry's constant companion. This, the third in the series, is a well thought out and well informed story reflective of today's headlines. Research is a monumental value in producing a book of this kind and it's obvious Mr. England has mastered this quality of a good writer. In this story the reader will find very real situations in which our protagonist finds himself spiritually at odds with the things he is forced to do in his endeavor for justice. Packed with heart pounding, edge of your seat action there is never a lackadaisical moment from start to the unpredictable finish. May the next volume come quickly. As always, happy reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Embrace the Fire is a terrifying spy thriller set in a present-day England that’s all too familiar, with right-wing thugs bashing anyone of foreign faith or color, and Muslim extremists perverting their scriptures into declarations of war. It’s a tinder-box, and a band of shadowy manipulators have found they hold the key. Meanwhile the haunted protagonist of Stephen England’s first two Shadow-Warriors novels brings his search for vengeance into the mix. Friends betray allies, colleagues betray s Embrace the Fire is a terrifying spy thriller set in a present-day England that’s all too familiar, with right-wing thugs bashing anyone of foreign faith or color, and Muslim extremists perverting their scriptures into declarations of war. It’s a tinder-box, and a band of shadowy manipulators have found they hold the key. Meanwhile the haunted protagonist of Stephen England’s first two Shadow-Warriors novels brings his search for vengeance into the mix. Friends betray allies, colleagues betray strangers, and a fiery plot moves forward inexorably. Blending the fierce authenticity of Tom Clancy with an honest and generous ability to see all sides, author Stephen England creates characters whose strengths and weakness become entirely plausible, and whose hopes for the future leave readers hoping they’ll survive. From a Muslim woman working in intelligence to a Christian man breaking the rules, from child to adult, these people all have genuine hurts and hopes and their stories certainly kept this reader turning pages, even through scenes of torture and death. The author depicts the war against terror with a no-holds-barred authenticity, while simultaneously avoiding laying blame at anyone’s door. Embrace the Fire is a political novel that never tries to force a political message, a thought-provoking novel with authentic and sympathetic portrayals of faith, a spy story that combines guts and gore with genuine introspection, and a complex tale that convincingly rides those blurred lines between justice and law. It’s a long book, carefully researched, authentically detailed, and terrifyingly plausible—a great standalone tale, and number three in a series that just keeps getting better. Disclosure: I was given a copy and I offer my honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Drayton

    BUY THE WHOLE SERIES!!! STOP READING REVIEWS AND BUY IT!! Another fantastic novel by Mr. England. Please, for fans of Clancy, Thor, Flynn and Greaney, stop reading reviews and click on the Buy It Now button. The whole series is phenomenal with Day of Reckoning being one of the best thrillers of the century! And I promise, that is no exaggeration. Enough said - you will kick yourself if you do not go back and Buy Pandora's Grave immediately. Go.....NOW!!! BUY THE WHOLE SERIES!!! STOP READING REVIEWS AND BUY IT!! Another fantastic novel by Mr. England. Please, for fans of Clancy, Thor, Flynn and Greaney, stop reading reviews and click on the Buy It Now button. The whole series is phenomenal with Day of Reckoning being one of the best thrillers of the century! And I promise, that is no exaggeration. Enough said - you will kick yourself if you do not go back and Buy Pandora's Grave immediately. Go.....NOW!!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Great, great book. Stephen England is now in the elite level of counterterror/espionage authors. He may well be the best. His character development is second to none.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

    An anti-terrorist action adventure that provides plenty of action and intrigue. This is a page turning story of who or whom do you trust. All of these agents and terrorist are professional liars. They are trained to lie which it makes them difficult to trust. When are they telling the truth? This is not the normal Americans standing for truth and justice. As agent Harry Nichols attempts to revenge attacks on America and the death of his girlfriend, will you trust everything he says or is he a ma An anti-terrorist action adventure that provides plenty of action and intrigue. This is a page turning story of who or whom do you trust. All of these agents and terrorist are professional liars. They are trained to lie which it makes them difficult to trust. When are they telling the truth? This is not the normal Americans standing for truth and justice. As agent Harry Nichols attempts to revenge attacks on America and the death of his girlfriend, will you trust everything he says or is he a man willing to “use” anybody (friend of foe) to achieve his personal objective. This story keeps you guessing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim A

    The longest of the Harry Nichols Trilogy and in my opinion the best. Many plot twists, some the reader can see coming, others not. Overall a pretty good terrorist chase type thriller, with continuing characters from the second of the series. The trilogy really should be read in order as the second book builds on the first and the third on the second.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyla Jones

    Dark A dark & desperate place, the human mind, when pushed beyond the pale. A plot of immense intrigue & detail. Thrilling!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I liked the first two books in the series. The third was a bit slow to get into but overall the series is worth reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nadeem

    Good solid read Story was entertaining and the use real life person s in the book made all the better. Another hit for the author

  17. 4 out of 5

    Penney

    Incredible Im glad i discovered stephen england and the shadow warriors series .im on a marathon reading of this series .wow

  18. 4 out of 5

    Manfred

    What an epic ride with this cast of characters. Simply awesome !

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lori Larsen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Hall

  21. 5 out of 5

    Randall Pollock

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

  23. 4 out of 5

    George Popp

  24. 4 out of 5

    ruth m watson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ross

  26. 5 out of 5

    linda mead

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ionut Lefter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia Matthews

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

  30. 4 out of 5

    James Mackenzie

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