Stieg Larsson and David Lagercrantz’s Millennium Series

Stieg_Larsson

About the author:

Stieg Larrson 

Born: August 15, 1954 in Skellefteå, Sweden

Died: November 9, 2004

Website: http://www.stieglarsson.com/

David_Lagercrantz_Bonniers

About the author:

David Lagercrantz

Born: September 4, 1962 in Sweden

Education: Philosophy and Religion-Gothenburg Journalism School

Website: http://davidlagercrantz.se/Home.htm

Publisher: Knopf Publishing

Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-thriller

Future of the series: The fifth book in the millenium series entitled The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye has just been released on 9/12/17.

Review of the Latest in the Series- The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye

The Simon Review

The international bestselling Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series has been labeled as a techno-thriller because the main character of the series, Lisbeth Salander, is a computer hacker and a mathematical genius. In my opinion, the technological aspect of the series is not a primary focal point but instead is a literary tool for Larsson to allow the heroes to gain access to information that would normally be impossible to retrieve under any other circumstance. So it seems that this series is an unintentional techno-thriller. As for the mathematical genius part, Larsson wanted to make it clear that Salandar was an intelligent and, in fact, extremely intelligent women and what better way to do that, than to make her a mathematical genius and so once again, an unintentional techno-thriller. The series is definitely a thriller but more of a political/conspiracy/crime thriller with a bit of technology thrown in.

There are thousands of reviews out there that can give you a glowing positive review of the series, so I would just be another cog in the wheel and give another glowing positive review, so instead of doing that, I am going to focus on why some people, and there are some, that don’t like this series and give my opinion as to why.

One of the biggest complaints of the series is Larsson’s writing style. Readers who disliked the series found it boring and I would have to agree that certain sections of the series were long winded and probably unnecessary. The first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, went to great lengths in describing in detail of every member of the Vanger family clan which was quite extensive. Though it was necessary to give background on these characters, Larsson could have reduced the size of the Vanger family to just a few characters to make the reading less confusing. Other complaints centered on Larsson’s frequent discussion of common everyday task, such as drinking coffee and eating sandwiches. There are several possible explanations for this problematic style, one being that the series was originally written in Swedish and was translated into English, this, however, doesn’t explain away the unnecessary dialogue. The most likely possibility is that when Larsson died of a sudden heart attack shortly after finishing the trilogy and before publication, he may not have had the chance to make final editorial changes. Additionally, Larsson by practice was a journalist, much like his character Blomkvist, so details were important to him and it seems that he didn’t quite make the transition from journalist to fictional writer.   An even bigger complaint was the sexual content of the series.

Almost two billion years ago, sexual reproduction evolved from asexual reproduction. There are several theories on the advantages, as well, as the disadvantages of the evolution of sexuality but one thing is certain is that evolution is not concerned with the individual players (meaning you and I) but in the ultimate goal, which is to produce viable and fit progeny (children) which in turn will continue the cycle and the maintenance of the species, which in our case is the species homo sapiens. The problem with sexual reproduction within our species is that we have both a logical thinking brain along with an irrational emotional psyche and these two traits clash with a bang when it comes to our dealings with the basic biological function of sexual reproduction. There is no rationality when it comes to sexuality as far as the human race is concerned but our logical brain tries to rationalize it from an individual’s perspective, the problem is that no two perspectives are quite the same. So what does all this have to do with Larsson’s Millennium series? Plenty. Larsson seems to touch base with a wide variety of sexual preferences which includes the good, the bad, and the very ugly. This list includes rape, incest, murder, infidelity, homosexuality, bisexuality, prostitution, discrimination, sadomasochism, polyamory, pedophilia, jealousy, heterosexuality, abuse, promiscuity, non-sexuality, and I am sure there are other aspects that I have not listed. This is a lot, even for a thriller, so for a lot of folks, it might be just too much. Those of us that love thrillers especially crime or forensic thrillers, know that each of these topics are usually covered in one form or another but to have it all covered in a three novel series is quite extraordinary. So I am not at all surprised that there would be complaints in this area. Larsson’s main agenda in writing this series was to bring attention to these issues especially violence against women.   I think that Larsson’s series has become so successful mainly because it has people discussing the role that both women and men play in society and that even very intelligent and successful women can be subjected to the uglier side of sexuality. There are over seven billion people on this planet, so I would say that sexual reproduction has been quite successful but many of the players of our species have taken a beating as a result of it. We are an angry, violent species that is quite capable of destroying not only ourselves but every living organism on this planet. If that occurs than evolution made a grave mistake.

Stieg Larsson died before he saw the success of his series; his plan was to write ten installments to the series and was in a process of writing the fourth. There are rumors of the fourth book being finished by his long-time girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson, however, legal issues are involved that might make this impossible. The Millenium series should be read in order.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series- The Girl Who Played With Fire, because we learn a lot about Lisbeth Salander in this novel.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because of the extended discussion of the Vanger family.

What about the science? Stieg Larsson was not a mathematician and neither am I, so I researched into what other mathematicians thought of the mathematical component of the series which I discuss in more detail in the Technical Word in Review. It seems that those that are mathematically inclined were rather perturbed at Larsson’s dealings with Fermat’s Last Theorem, particularly the passage from The Girl Who Played With Fire that I have listed in the Technical Word in Review.   For one, they were rather angered to the mentioning that Andrew Wiles developed his proof with the use of a computer, which from my understanding was not true. Secondly, proving Fermat’s Theorem was a tremendous challenge, and for Larsson to diminish this challenge by having a character that had very limited background in mathematics and could solve the problem easily in her head was like giving the finger to all the hard working mathematicians that have existed from ancient times. No matter how brilliant Salander may have been, it would have been impossible for her to have conjured up a proof so easily.

Interestingly enough, there seems to be a different take on Salander’s approach to what Fermat was actually thinking when he wrote in the margin of Arthimetica that is circulating around the internet and that is:

But the thing is you don’t need an in depth knowledge of this to understand Salander’s solution, and as she says, a philosopher would have more chance – it is a riddle, a rebus, you “line it up” and it is simple and the answer is funny: a rebus is a play or pun (roughly) and if you line up the z’s
x3+y3=z3
in other words
x3+y3=zzz and zzz=sleep
an unsolvable maths problem puts you to sleep, and the higher the exponent the more the damn puzzle puts you to sleep ie the higher the exponent the more z’s you have. That is why Salander giggles and why she calls him a cocky devil

The Accidental Mathematician

So is this really what Larsson was trying to convey in the passage below? I guess we will never know.

The Lisbeth Salander Technical Word in Review: Fermat’s Theorem- better known as Fermat’s Last Theorem is based on the principle that no three positive integers a, b, and c can fulfill the equation an+ bn= cn when the integer n > 2. Pierre de Fermat was a lawyer who lived in mid-1600s France and experimented with mathematics as a pastime. His work made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and he is considered to be one of two leading mathematicians during the early 17th century. Fermat’s theorem was discovered thirty years after his death by his son who found the theorem scribbled in the margin of the book, Arthimetica, a text written by the ancient Greek mathematician Diophantus. In the margin he claimed that he had proof to the theorem but noted that he didn’t have room in the margin to write it down. The theorem proved to be one of the most difficult theorems in mathematics to prove and partial proofs were published over the years but a successful general proof wasn’t published until 1994 by the British mathematician Andrew Wiles.


Salander began her advance towards the house, moving in a circle through the woods. She had gone about a hundred and fifty metres when suddenly she stopped in mid-stride.

In the margin of his copy of Arithmetica, Pierre de Fermat had jotted the words I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.

The square had been converted to a cube, and mathematicians had spent centuries looking for the answer to Fermat’s riddle. By the time Andrew Wiles solved the puzzle in the 1990s, he had been at it for ten years using the world’s most advanced computer programme.

And all of a sudden she understood. The answer was so disarmingly simple. A game with numbers that lined up and then fell into place in a simple formula that was most similar to a rebus.

Fermat had no computer, of course, and Wiles’s solution was based on mathematics that had not been invented when Fermat formulated his theorem. Fermat would never have been able to produce the proof that Wiles had presented. Fermat’s solution was quite different.

She was so stunned that she had to sit down on a tree stump. She gazed straight ahead as she checked the equation.

So that’s what he meant. No wonder mathematicians were tearing out their hair.

Then she giggled.

A philosopher would have had a better chance of solving this riddle.

She wished she could have known Fermat.

He was a cocky devil.

After a while she stood up and continued her approach through the trees. She kept the barn between her and the house.The Girl Who Played With Fire


Books in the Series by Order:

Most Favorite in the series: The Girl Who Played With Fire with a score of 4.22

Least Favorite in the series: The Girl In the Spider’s Web with a score of 3.76

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

Tattoo#1-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- 2008

Winner of the 2009 Anthony Award for Best First Novel

Winner of the 2009 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel

Winner of the 2009 Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel

Winner of the 2010 Barry Award for Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade

Winner of the 2009 National (UK) Book Award for Best Crime Thriller

Winner of the 2006 Glass Key Award

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook

First Line:

It happened every year, was almost a ritual.


Characters

Mikael Blomkvist: Journalist and one of the owners of the Millennium newspaper

Lisbeth Salander: Our girl with the dragon tattoo, computer hacker, and mathematical genius

Henrik Vanger: Former CEO of the Vanger Corporation, who hires Blomkvist to investigate the possible murder of his niece Harriet Vanger

Harriet Vanger: Vanished when she was 16 years old and after 36 years her disappearance is still a mystery

Martin Vanger: Acting CEO for the Vanger Corporation and brother to Harriet Vanger

Erika Berger: Editor in chief and one of the owners of the Millennium newspaper. Is married but has a physical relationship with Blomkvist with the approval from her husband.

Nils Bjurman: Salander’s present court-appointed legal guardian

Dragan Armansky: Salander’s boss and owner of Milton Security

Hans-Erik Wennerström: A powerful businessman, who sued Blomkvist for slander and won. It is Blomkvist goal to prove that he is involved in criminal activity.

Plague: Computer hacker and Salander’s friend

Holger Palmgren: Salander’s former court-appointed legal guardian. Stepped down when he suffered a major stroke

Miriam Wu: Salander’s friend and lover


The Setting

Stockholm and Hedestad Sweden


Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.


Looking for a review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating-US: 4.04 out of 5 stars based on 5,999 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.31 out of 5 stars based on 4,060 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 1,974,146 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.02 out of 4 stars based on 11,490 ratings

Total Score 4.11  (updated 11/1/17)

 

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Fire#2-The Girl Who Played with Fire- 2009

Winner of the 2006 Best Swedish Crime Novel Award

Listed #135 out of 552 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

Listed #27 out of 172 on Goodreads Best Science Thrillers Book List

First Line:

She lay on her back fastened by leather straps to a narrow bed with a steel frame.


Characters

Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, Harriet Vanger, Erika Berger, Nils Bjurman, Dragan Armansky, Hans-Erik Wennerström, Plague, Holger Palmgren and Miriam Wu

Alexander Zalachenko: A Russian spy that defected to Sweden and later was involved in sex trafficking.

Jan Bublanski: Stockholm police captain working on the Salander case

Sonja Modig: Police office working closely with Bublanski

Dag Svennson: Journalist writing on an exposé that would expose members of the sex trafficking trade

Dr. Peter Teleborian: Prominent psychiatrist who was involved in having Salander committed

Ronald Niedermann: Abnormally large man who is a henchman for Zalachencko


The Setting

Stockholm, Sweden and Grenada


Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.


Looking for a review of The Girl Who Played With Fire?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating-US: 4.52 out of 5 stars based on 8,544 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.56 out of 5 stars based on 2,371 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.22 out of 5 stars based on 660,389 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.13 out of 4 stars based on 8,008 ratings

Total Score 4.22  (updated 11/1/17)

 

mathematics

 

Hornet's_Nest#3-The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest- 2010

Winner of the 2008 Glass Key Award 

Listed #5 on Goodreads Thrillers Book List

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook 

First Line:

An estimated 600 women served during the American Civil War.


Characters

Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, Erika Berger, Nils Bjurman, Dragan Armansky, Hans-Erik Wennerström, Plague, Holger Palmgren, Miriam Wu, Alexander Zalachenko, Jan Bublanski, Sonja Modig, Dag Svennson, Ronald Niedermann and Dr. Peter Teleborian

Annika Giannini: Blomkvist’s sister and Salander’s lawyer

Dr. Anders Jonasson: Salander’s doctor while in the hospital

Evert Gullberg: Retired Sapo operative who was the head of a special unit within Sapo


The Setting

Stockholm, Sweden


Lisbeth Salander — the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels — lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.


Looking for a review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet Nest?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating-US: 4.56 out of 5 stars based on 8,544 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.66 out of 5 stars based on 2,532 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.20 out of 5 stars based on 534,323 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.13 out of 4 stars based on 6,391 ratings

Total Score 4.21  (updated 11/1/17)

 

 

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girl_in_the_spider_web#4-The Girl In The Spider’s Web- 2015

My Review of  The Girl in the Spider’s Web

First Line:

This story begins with a dream, and not a particularly spectacular one at that.


Characters

Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, Erika Berger, Plague, Alexander Zalachenko, Jan Bublanski, and Sonja Modig


The Setting

Stockholm, Sweden


In this adrenaline-charged thriller, genius-hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist face a dangerous new threat and must again join forces.

Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a trusted source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female super hacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering.

Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Lisbeth for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the duo who thrilled 80 million readers in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest meet again in an extraordinary and uniquely of-the-moment thriller.


Looking for a review of The Girl In The Spider’s Web?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating: 3.93 out of 5 stars based on 9,607 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.91 out of 5 stars based on 2,039 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 86,112 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.64 out of 4 stars based on 596 ratings

Total Score 3.76  (updated 11/1/17)

 

 

#5-The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye – 2017

My Review of  The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye

First Line:

Holger Palmgren was sitting in his wheelchair in the visitors’ room.


Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others–even she has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And she will let nothing stop her–not the anti-Muslim gang she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the deadly reach from inside the Russian mafia of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudoscientific experiment known only as The Registry. Once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment.


Looking for a review of The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating: 3.76 out of 5 stars based on 865 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.90 out of 5 stars based on 251 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.77 out of 5 stars based on 9,263 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.87 out of 4 stars based on 54 ratings

Total Score 3.77  (updated 11/1/17)

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