Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Millennium Triolgy

The Books: The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With The dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest)

The Author: Stieg Larsson

The Dealio: This is a series of three books, set mostly in Sweden, which are, ostensibly, mysteries, but could also be comfortably shelved with adventure books. The two main characters are the Girl in the Title (Lisbeth Salander) and the controversial journalist, Mikael Blomqvist (who has as his super power, the ability to attract and successfully bed any woman he sees, walks by, wants or knows, despite being described in the books as a bear of a man, over middle age and over weight, not very good looking, not particularly rich or powerful, but also possessing a wicked case of attention deficit disorder). In the course of the three books, both Mika and Lisbeth will log some serious jail-, isolation-, court- and bad-press time. Mika finds himself on the losing end of a defamation lawsuit at the beginning of the series, and , after being thrown a life-preserver in the form of a contract with an aged and ailing business magnate, removes himself from the heat of the fray in Stockholm, where is is a partner in an up and coming magazine, Millennium. His assignment: to find out what happened to the rich dudes favorite grand-daughter...nearly 40 years ago. In doing some looking before leaping behind the curtains exploring, with the help of a securrity agency, Mika runs into Milton Security's #1 researcher, a cryptic, mysterious, secretive and diabolically talented Lisbeth Salander. Along the way through the three interlinked stories (you really need to read these in order), these two join forces, then bods, then snarky hostility as they work to get the true scoop not only on Mika's jail-time producing slander case, but also the mysteries of her past, which have put Salander in peril, at risk and on the run since she was a 12 year old girl. Along the way there is enough high grade violence- much of it against women- to satisfy even the hardest-boiled Quentin Tarentino fan. There are some vivid court sequences and interesting secondary characters, but it often seems that Sweden's justice department-with all it tentacled arms thrashing about here and there, causing casualties wherever they turn up- has out-Ramparted Ramparts PD.

The Grading Session: Dragon Tattoo: 4.51 pengies out of 5; Played With Fire: 4.01 pengies out of 5. Hornets' Nest: 4.812 pengies out of 5. Although Larsson always maintained that he was a feminist, these books are so much less about female empowerment than about a sadistic, jaundiced view of females, which subjects nearly all who show up in his writings to graphic, high-grade torture, subjugation and perversity. It took a lot for me to continue with each of these books in their turn due to this repressive climate. But I also felt that the stories were engrossing- the 2nd least of the lot- and the last segments of the Hornets' Nest- the court-room sequences - galloped along with such speed and velocity that I was literally breathless during the entire telling.

Lessons Learned: Aside from the fact that the guy who wrote this series gave himself carte blanche to vicariously be absolutely irresistible to a steady stream of hot and cold running women, while being an average, everyday, out-of-shape, not-so-physically appealing specimen? Yup; checked that block thoroughly.
Then: Come on, you know this one by heart, so let's all just say it together: 'You simply can never judge a book by its cover.' This applies not only to Blomqvist, but also to the Girl in The Titles. Salander had, for decades, been labelled as a mentally ill, probably mentally defective female incapable of reading or writing. Weeeeeellll, not so fast, peeps. Surprises abound ahead.
Lastly this: decay and corruption can be found at the heart of the very last places you would expect to find it. In systems designed to protect and serve. In political offices which have, as their purpose, to root out decay and corruption. But, too, strength, decency, and unquestionable loyalty can be found hidden in some pretty unexpected places, as well. Lesson? Tread carefully,look both ways before venturing forth, always on the watch, and please be so kind as to leave your assumptions at the door.

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