The Riddle of the Sands Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Riddle of the Sands

The shock of this book on its release a century ago, set in the years of European tension leading up to the First World War, caused a sensation in Britain by successfully analysing what in military terms can only be called Germany's increasingly 'aggressive posture'. Childers did this in a story which broke new ground, as it is generally agreed to be the first straight modern spy thriller, even more remarkable for it being a first novel.
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With exciting bluff and counterbluff, chases, and manoeuvres, always using credible military and navy knowledge and terms, his popularity endures to this day. His two heroes are duck hunting and holiday sailing off the German/Dutch coast in the North Sea when they stumble on a plot to trial-run a massive sea-borne infantry attack from Germany's Frisian coast (north of Holland and due east of north England). Being full of treacherous sand bars and storms, and suspicious yachting characters and dubious wreck salvagers, this is dangerous work. With plenty of variation in pace and scenery, this storyteller really knew his facts and captured the attitudes and conversation of his era with some style. Childers' descendents are Ian Fleming's Bond novels, and the vast array of war novels published since.
The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose

Chapter Analysis of The Riddle of the Sands

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 30%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 10%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1900-1920's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes Cloak & Dagger Plotlets:    -   main char. spying/sabotage    -   preventing war Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Water adventure    -   Yes Water:    -   on the ocean surface War-time military intelligence mission?    -   Yes Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   nazis!

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   diplomat Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK    -   Germany Water?    -   Yes Water:    -   sail boat

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment A lot of techno jargon?    -   Yes Kind of jargon?    -   military technology Unusual forms of death    -   drowned Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Erskine Childers Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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