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Greg Rucka – Queen & Country Vol. 1: Operation: Broken Ground

April 28, 2010

43. Operation: Broken Ground by Greg Rucka and Steve Rolston (2001)
Queen and Country, Volume 1

Length: 120 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel, Political/Spy story.

Started: 10 April 2010, hour sixteen of the readathon.
Finished: 11 April 2010, hour seventeen of the readathon.

Where did it come from? Borrowed from a friend.
Why do I have it? Said friend handed it to me and said “here, read this.”

Being a secret
agent: not as sexy as
James Bond makes it look.

Summary: Queen and Country follows the agents – known as “Minders” – of the Special Ops branch of MI-6, Britain’s Foreign Intelligence Service. The story opens with Minder Two, otherwise known as Tara Chace, in Kosovo on an unofficial and unauthorized assignment to assassinate a Russian mobster and warlord. The consequences of that mission are far-reaching, however, since the assassinated man had powerful friends, and they decide to strike back… targeted directly at MI-6, and at Chace in particular.

Review: Political, spy, and special ops thrillers are not my usual genre of choice; in fact, I think they’re probably on the far opposite end from my genres of choice. Therefore, I don’t know that I am in any place to judge this book relative to others in the genre; it could be grittily accurate or fantastically off-base, and I would never know. I’m sure that I missed a lot of the subtleties of the inter- and intra-departmental conflict that was going on, just because I’m not familiar with the world or with the lingo. (In fact, the only reason I was able to follow what was going on at all was that I’ve watched the first season of MI:5.) But, lacking any comparative context, I did enjoy the story well enough, and I particularly liked the characterization of Tara. The thoughts and motivations of the people carrying out the special ops are always more interesting to me than the ops themselves, and while the characterization hasn’t gotten too complex yet (it is still only Vol. 1), it’s got a good foundation laid, and I’d be interested to see where Rucka takes the characters in the future. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Queen and Country would be best for people who like spy thrillers, but it also might be worth checking out for those who still think that graphic novels are only for folks who like fantasy, sci-fi, and superheroes.

One More Note: I’m sure it’s because I’ve been rewatching Battlestar Galactica recently, but I was struck by the similarities between Tara Chace and Starbuck… both hard-living, hard-drinking, hard-edged tough girls who are blond, smart-mouthed, excellent sharpshooters, a bit nihilistic, and dedicated to their service… plus Starbuck’s real name is Kara Thrace. Coincidence?

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Adventures in Reading (covers Vol. 1 & 2)
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “…standing by…”

Cover Thoughts: Tara on the cover does not look much like Tara in the book, and the shadows make her look a little bit like she’s got smudgy mascara… but otherwise it’s fine.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 7:56 am

    I do like spy thrillers, so I just might enjoy this book. I’ve found for the most part that my favorite genre in the graphic format is the memoir, though.

    • April 30, 2010 9:02 am

      bermudaonion – I haven’t tried any graphic novel memoirs, although Persepolis has been on my list for years. Anything else you’d recommend?

  2. April 28, 2010 10:11 am

    Spy thrillers are very much not my genre either – and I caught a bit of MI-5 once and turned it off straightaway after the bad guys, like, lit this one person’s face on fire and then shot her. WAY TOO ALARMING FOR ME. Which I suspect this graphic novel would be too. :P

    • April 30, 2010 9:03 am

      Jenny – There wasn’t anything quite so extreme as that in this book, but there is some graphic violence, which, even in B&W, was still pretty alarming.

  3. April 29, 2010 10:54 am

    I prefer ’60s or ’60s-esque spy thrillers, to be honest- nothing against grittiness, but there’s nothing like a smooth operator.

    I suspect the writers of the 2004 Battlestar Galactica may have read this or come across the name at some point… or I could be making things up, since I’ve neither read this nor seen that. But still! It could happen!

    • April 30, 2010 9:05 am

      Omni – It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some cross-pollination between Q&C and BSG; the timeline certainly fits and there’s plenty of thematic crossover too. I’m just so much more familiar with BSG that it was weird to come across Starbuck’s (potential) predecessor.

  4. May 1, 2010 4:57 pm

    This looks like a lot of fun!

    • May 4, 2010 11:46 am

      Darla – It’s too dark for me to really classify it as “fun”, but it certainly was an interesting read.

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