Monday, November 19, 2012

Ken Follett - The Hammer of Eden

The FBI doesn't believe it. The Governor wants the problem to disappear. But agent Judy Maddox knows the threat is real: An extreme group of eco-terrorists has the means and the know-how to set off a massive earthquake of epic proportions. For California, time is running out.
Now Maddox is scrambling to hunt down a petty criminal turned cult leader turned homicidal mastermind. Because Judy knows that the dying has already begun. And soon, the earth will violently shift, bolt, and shake down to its very core....

Comment: I've had this book to read for more than five years. I remember I bought it on sale, it was quite cheap (I have it translated) but the blurb caught my eye and at that time I had read two books by the author and I remember enjoying them, so when I saw this one on sale I got it right away...but like most times I didn't get to it soon and it's been in my TBR list for...well, obviously a long time. I finally decided to pick it up because I had the idea of trying to go through many loose titles I have in my shelves and, in a way, start tidying things up a bit.

The book is a fictional story about the possibility of someone starting a earthquake somehow. When the governor of California signs the papers allowing the construction of a dam, many people who live in the place chosen will have to leave. There's a cult living in the valley that doesn't have the papers in order and they see it as their only way of survival, they have found happiness there. So, they come up with the idea of faking a threat by claiming they can start an earthquake if the plans to build the dam don't stop. To achieve this, their leader, Priest, will do anything to ensure they can keep their land, because although they don't pay taxes, they have legal papers and a business there, the source of their income.
However, the threat is considered real after they successfully start a minor earthquake and provoke panic among the government...

This book is, basically, the story of a group of people fighting for their things in the worst way and how a FBI agent is the person who solves the case.
I don't know if I enjoyed the book. I have to be honest and say it's not the most amazing thing I've read but I also can't say it's that bad because it did make me think.
The characters serve a purpose, of course, they're there to play a role. The big bad companies removing obstacles in their way to power and money and the law trying to catch the people who put at risk the lives of innocents. In the end the good guys win, etc.
The cult has some members who see things in a more radical way and those are the ones who stop at nothing to see their wishes accomplished. The worst part of the book was to see how badly they decided to pursue that. They had a good reason, illegal right to the land, because although they had a person who owned the propriety, they didn't pay taxes and they couldn't get compensation for it. They also claimed that place was unique for their wine production, their source of income. They also stated rich people couldn't just take what they wanted in order to make other rich people happy not seeing how it would affect those not so wealthy.
I have to say this impressed me. I considered their motifs strong and valid. How many groups and real villages have to bend their rights for the power of stronger and richer people? 
Like I said, they don't fight the best way. There are people who get killed because of this, they commit crimes and that is awful, but their work would be lost and circumstances put them aside from society, in part by their choice, but despite the fact they acted wrong and were rightfully condemned, I still think their reasons were good and it saddens me to think of so many people out there struggling and for money they can't have their things, their dreams...I think this is the strongest point in the book. Not how they fight or how they are caught, but why they do it.
The story flows easily, we see many things from both perspectives, the cult's and the FBI's. It's an interesting story for its theme but I think I made my point about what I felt was the best thing in it.
I'm not saying people should do what they want, without any rule or social backup. But sometimes the world is too hard with those in need, something even more obvious now, with the way economy is.
Anyway, the book presents a strong story I think. the end made me sad because the cult's leader was bad, he did awful things, he committed awful crimes but still I felt pity about the way the book ended. Was this the author's goal? Was it just my personal reaction?
I can't say, but the story itself wasn't, certainly, what I'll remember the most about this book.


  1. Sonia, the whole issue in this book sounds like a matter of two extremist sides of the equation fighting for different goals (the big companies v. the cult extremist leaders), and the people in the middle getting hurt. They become the "collateral damage" in the process and in the end nobody cares.

    I think Follet fictionalized a political issue that happens to be both contemporary and historically based.

    If you look at the history of when the big dams were built in the US, you'll see how whole towns were erased from existence, and the people who grew up in those towns were given minimal payment for homes and land that had belonged to their families for generations.

    Sounds interesting. I haven't read Follet in years!!!

  2. I know about dams, well not specifically about US but here it happened too and a whole village was lost, although they (the money people) compensated the ones living there but it was many years ago and today many people still talk about it and there are even songs about the old village and how lost it was...

    Have you read the book then?
    I just felt so much pity for the cult people, they did awful things but their reasons were innocent at first...