Book Review: “The Chaos Kind” by Barry Eisler

He’s back! No, I’m not talking about Bond, James Bond. I’m talking about Barry Eisler, one of my favourite authors. Compared to the majority of books that I read, Eisler’s books have more action, including fighting – Mr Bond would feel quite at home within these pages. But the action and fighting is always presented within a brilliant narrative and great overall story. “The Chaos Kind” did not disappoint.

One thing I sometimes struggle with in reading Eislier’s books are the number of characters and names to keep on top of – not helped when some characters are referred to by different names. Perhaps, because I’d not read one of his books for a while, even though it had some familiar names from early on, because there were new people for me too, it took me a while to get back into the swing of things with this book. However, they soon came back to me, and it all went smoothly from there.

As you can see from a diagram on Eisler’s website (also copied below), many of the characters in this book have appeared in previous books, including their own series. One thing that I really admire about Eisler’s writing is that it’s possible to enjoy his books in any order. While there may be some references back to former stories, there are no significant spoilers, and even if key points are raised, I know that the books that they came up in would be worth reading by anyone who hasn’t read them due to the great journey that the book will take you on. As I write my own novels (and I even managed to include a reference to Eisler’s work in my novel “Tokyo 20/20 Vision“), particularly a series which has characters that appear in more than one and books not being published in the chronological order in which they are set, I really hope I can learn some lessons from how Eisler has presented his characters and cross-referred to other books.


There were a few lines and parts of the book that particularly jumped out for me. One of these is

“I hate bullies,” she said. “People who take advantage of other people just because they can.”

This should be a view that is universal – but sadly seems not to be the case. The issue of bullying was touched upon in my novel “FOUR” and will feature much more in Book 3 of my Iwakura Series.

Another thing stood out for me were the parts where the Battle of Sekigahara were mentioned (there are Japan references in most of Eisler’s books – which probably another reason why I like them). Sekigahara is one of my favourite places in Japan, and I am particularly interested in both the symbolism of the event itself, the crests used in the battle, and the history of the battle itself, often enjoying programmes and movies set around that period (e.g. “Age of Samurai“).

Another line that stood out was “in the intelligence business good was a relative term” – I could probably say the same of many walks of life, but perhaps it’s best not to dwell on that too much.

A final line that I would like to comment on is “after what had happened the pain was almost glorious, a kind of proof of life”. This is something that I can relate to. One time when I was visiting Osutaka-no-one, the crash site of the JL123 crash about which I have been researching since 2007, I got a cut from a piece of metal sticking out from the mountain. While the pain and blood was annoying, part of me was actually happy to have had the experience as its relative insignificance helped to keep my focus of the enormity of what had happened at that same site many years before and the suffering that event had brought to so many connected to the event. My cut and pain is something that you can only feel if you are alive, and given what had happened at the site, I need to be thankful that I could feel such pain.

Returning to “The Chaos Kind”, it is was a very enjoyable read and would recommend that people read it and others by Eisler.

Click here to get more information about the book.

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