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Keith Ross Leckie

Toronto, Macmillan, 1989. 375pp, cloth, $22.95
ISBN 0-7715-9210-8. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Ian Stewart.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

David Lassister, a news correspondent, is sent to Afghanistan to cover the withdrawal of Soviet forces and to arrange an interview with ferenghi (foreign) leader of a Mujahadin faction. The Mujahadin leader is in fact Jesse Lassister, David's brother, who was kidnapped twenty years earlier by radical communists in Batista's Cuba and is now a leftist mercenary.

With the impending Soviet withdrawal it becomes imperative that a new alliance of Afghan tribesmen be forged, An Afghan's allegiance is first to his tribe, not to any concept of state, but it is only through the creation of an alliance that the threat of civil war can be averted. The men of vision who wish to form the alliance know that a civil war fought with modern western weapons rather than with muskets and swords would not be "honourable" but would totally destroy the people of Afghanistan.

In Afghan society only a man whose abilities have been forged and tested in the neat of battle can hope to become leader of such an alliance. With the death of the only man known to possess such abili­ties, Jesse falls into a death-despairing addiction to opium. David in effect brings him back to life and redeems himself by sharing Jesse's addiction, gaining his trust, and drawing him back into the real world. Jesse then, along with the son of the dead leader, becomes tactician and effective leader of the new "Alliance." David with his western media skills and high-technology communications system creates a new hero, but fate and the vagaries of life take a hand 10 create new and desperate situations for David and Jesse.

The Seventh Gate is a cut above the mass of popular fiction. It is written in a smooth-flowing style. As a novel of Afghanistan and its people it has integrity. However, the relationships developed between some of the characters are unpalatable.

Ian Stewart, Wellington/Queen Elizabeth Schools, Sioux Lookout, Ont.
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