A truly stunning novel of one man’s dangerous obsession with immortality, from the BAFTA award-winning creator of Bodyguard and Line of Duty
ONE OF THE GUARDIAN‘S ‘1000 NOVELS EVERYONE MUST READ’
Yefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and a phantom.
Destined to go down in Soviet history books as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, the most deadly fighter pilot of the Korean War, one moment of madness sees Yefgenii throwing his reputation to the wind. Exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown and victories uncelebrated, he must endure a fate worse than death: anonymity.
But when a man arrives from Moscow’s Space Committee in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice himself for his country, Yefgenii seizes his one last chance of immortality.
I received a copy of this audiobook from Penguin Random House UK Audio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an intense story well suited to the audiobook. The narrator keeps the listener’s engagement throughout.
The story explores the historical period from the Korean War in the 1950s to the space race in the 1960s from the Russian viewpoint. Yefgenii Yeremin lost his family during WW2 and suffered life-changing emotional damage. His early life is brutal and devoid of nurture. Disturbing to listen to it shapes him into to driven man he becomes.
His missions during the Korean War are deniable and secret and eventually leave him without the recognition he seeks. The relationships between the fighter pilots are complex and relatable. The story is absorbing as it moves to the frozen north and anonymity. Yefgenii is always seeking something just beyond his reach. He denies himself basic human comforts and emotions desired by most people. His part in the space race gives him a chance of the immortality he seeks but at the expense of everything else in his life.
The research is detailed, and the sense of place and time succinct. The story is an absorbing mix of action and introspection, poignant and with a conclusion that resonates.