First Among Equals * Jeffrey Archer

Charles Seymour, second-born son, will never be the earl like his father, but he did inherit his mother’s strength-and the will to realize his destiny…Simon Kerslake’s father sacrificed everything to make sure his son’s dreams come true. Now it is Simon’s chance to rise as high as those dreams allow…Ray Gould was born to the back streets but raised with pride-a quality matched by a sharp intellect and the desire to attain the impossible…Andrew Fraser was raised by a soccer hero turned politician. Now it’s his turn for heroics, whatever the cost.

From strangers to rivals, four men embark on a journey for the highest stakes of all-the keys to No. 10 Downing Street. Unfolding over three decades, their honor will be tested, their loyalties betrayed, and their love of family and country challenged. But in a game where there is a first among equals, only one can triumph.

I picked up this book expecting a battle to the death like the one witnessed in the newspaper magnates games of friend and foe or the one with the shops in Chelsea. This book took me ages to finish (even in audio book format) as politics are boring. English politics especially. This is the story of the entire career of four different politicians. Four! It was tedious, devoid of substance and the author flips from one to the other so fast it gets confusing about whose life we’re reading about…

The characters vacillated between good and evil with the exception of Simon Kerslake. It was hard to follow the characters from one escapade to the next, one relationship to another. Both Charles Hampton and Raymond Gould round out the characters along their shenanigans.

If you are English you probably will understand this novel set around Parliament more than if you are an American. Once again Mr. Archer leaves you hanging wondering after each episode which is his favorite way to get you to continue to read it. I found the book less than exciting and more melodramatic than any of his other books. Wishing it were otherwise but I would not give him a thumbs up for this novel. Was I surprised at the ending?

No because the ‘good guys always win’ in the end right? The fly jacket says “It is a story of titanic rivalry” but you really do not see that after the first introduction of Charles Hampton. It is I presume to be about his rivalry against his brother Rupert another addition to the flock of characters but who plays a minuscule role and in fact you hardly remember him when he is reintroduced at the end.

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