Battlefield 3 – The Russian
Author: Andy McNab and Peter Grimsdale
This novel is a companion piece to the very successful PS3 game of the same title. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a game company (Electronic Arts/Dice) doing something like this. Andy McNab, the main author and highly decorated ex-SAS soldier, helped with technicalities behind the warfare portrayed in the game, and together with this book, paint a very detailed, and authentic picture of the world in which Battlefield 3 (BF3) plays out.
I did gather that there were a few discrepancies between the game and the novel’s storylines so don’t think you are getting the same thing twice.
Whereas the BF3 game mainly focuses on the US Marine, Sergeant Henry Blackburn, this novel follows the path of the once revered ex-Spetsnaz Dmitri “Dima” Mayakovski.
Dima gets pulled from retirement for a big job, by his old boss and gets his old band of friends together, including Kroll and Vladimir. The mission is to intercept Kaffarov, one of the world’s biggest arms dealers, as he is in possession of a small nuke, and is meeting other dealers in Iran. They know where he will be and when. Something seems off though to Dima. The mission goes badly awry, and most of soldiers die during the interception. But Dima, with his small band, race after Kaffarov into Tehran.
Tehran is desolated due to the war being raged by the PLR, under the leadership of Al-Bashir, with most arms being supplied by Kaffarov.
The chase takes Dima and his motley crew into the streets of Tehran, where he has to use all his ingenuity and skill to keep them alive. A failed attempt at capturing the nukes takes them to old friends of Dima’s, through which he discovers the location to Kaffarov’s mountain retreat. There, Dima and his crew infiltrate the retreat and he eventually gets to Kaffarov, only for Kaffarov to die in his arms. The nukes aren’t there, but Dima learns they’re on their way to Paris and New York respectively. He also learns that his old prodigy, Solomon is behind it all.
Dima and crew then make their way to Paris to stop Solomon from detonating the nuke.
Meanwhile, we get introduced to Sergeant Henry Blackburn, stationed in Tehran, fighting against the PLR. He and his crew are sent in to help another vehicle in trouble, and get ambushed. He somehow survives, but sees a man, whose name he later learns to be Solomon, decapitate another soldier who survived.
Blackburn gets to another squad and they manage to get a nuke from Kaffarov and Al-Bashir, only to find out there’s two more. They find out about Kaffarov’s mountain retreat, and go in with Osprey’s and an airstrike. There, through a chance meeting with Dima, Blackburn learns of the plans Solomon has. He escapes from the retreat, but later while being questioned about events gets taken into custody, as they find footage of him and Dima escaping the retreat together.
Through a bizarre string of events, Blackburn ends up in New York, questioned by the NSA and CIA, because of him mentioning Solomon.
Meanwhile, Dima and his crew race through Paris to try and stop a nuclear war, with car chases, fake killings and clever twists that all lead up to an explosive finale.
This alternative telling of the BF3 story is very interesting and well thought through, and after hearing the disappointing reviews on the game’s storyline, they should rather have gone this route.
This is a well written story that delves deep into Dima’s past and his psyche, but at a pace that makes you feel as though you are on a roller coaster. Mcnab’s war experience is invaluable here as it helps through technicalities, without effort. The two intersecting stories between Dima and Blackburn are also very cleverly executed.
There are one or two leaps in storyline that defies plausibility, but they are quickly forgotten in the relentless pace of events unfolding.
From what I gather, it seems as though this companion piece ended up being the superior product in the BF3 world.