Gabriel Allon

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Gabriel Allon is the main protagonist in Daniel Silva's thriller and espionage series that focuses on Israeli intelligence. The main characters refer to their employer as the Office, although it is not specified that it is Mossad (despite that in reality, internally in the Israeli intelligence community Mossad is colloquially referred to as HaMisrad, [עברית: המשרד] which literally translates into English as, 'the Office' which is exactly the same name). Allon's career began in 1972 when he, Eli Lavon and several others were plucked from civilian life by Ari Shamron to participate in Operation Wrath of God, an act of vengeance to hunt down and eliminate those responsible for killing the Israel athletes in Munich. Wrath of God is referenced in the books throughout the course of his life.[1]

Character biography[edit]

According to Silva, Allon is a sabra whose first language was German. He was raised Jewish, albeit in a secular home in the Jezreel Valley, and was not familiar with Shabbat candles until he saw them as an adult.[2] That his parents, specifically his mother, Irene, was a Holocaust survivor (from Berlin) is a thread throughout the series; it is often alluded to that her unwillingness to discuss what happened to her is part of what makes Allon such a good spy and master of secrets. Not much is known about Allon's father beyond his death in the Six-Day War, other than that he was a Holocaust survivor (like his future wife) who was born and raised in Munich.[1] According to Shamron, Gabriel's name was chosen for a reason, "Your mother named you Gabriel for a reason. Michael is the highest [angel], but you, Gabriel, are the mightiest. You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment -- the Prince of Fire."[3]

Several books in the series make reference to Allon's linguistic versatility and it is confirmed that he speaks fluent English, French, German, Hebrew, and Italian, as well as also passable Arabic and Spanish. In The English Girl Silva lets the readers know that German was his first language and remains the language of his dreams. According to press for the same title, Allon is in his 60s.[4]

Allon's grandfather was a well-known Berlin-based German Expressionist painter who passed his talents on to his daughter (Gabriel's mother) and subsequently Gabriel before he was killed at Auschwitz in January 1943. Allon served in the army and chose to leave immediately at the conclusion of his conscription to study at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, forsaking an offered post in an elite special forces unit. It was at Bezalel in Jerusalem in 1972 when Shamron approached him to join the Office and take part in retribution operation being carried out by Israel in against Black September in retaliation for perpetrating the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Gabriel was the one of the primary assassins in the operation conducted across Europe which lasted three years resulting in the derailment of Gabriel's then-likely future career as a painter. He did return to his studies while simultaneously continuing to work for the Office and eventually instead became an art restorer based in Italy as his primary unofficial cover,[2] which also continues to play a large role in Allon's life.[5]

In January 1991, while on assignment in Vienna, Allon's car was bombed resulting in the death of his son and serious injury to his wife, Leah. His wife survived and lives in a psychiatric hospital on Mount Herzl, not far from where their son is buried on the Mount of Olives.[2] Allon felt he had to make peace with Leah's ghost before he could propose to or marry Chiara, the Italian-born Office field operative who later becomes his second wife. His son's ghost frequently haunts Allon, especially after Chiara's miscarriage following her kidnapping and their ensuing inability to conceive.

Real world impact[edit]

The books are never explicit in the year in which they're set, although there are sometimes references to real-world events, such as the changing American presidency. In The Fallen Angel, Allon makes references to meeting Chiara ten years prior, which roughly matches up to the books' annual releases. However some titles, especially Moscow Rules and The Defector take place within greater proximity to one another based on the books' events. In an interview that coincided with the release of Moscow Rules, Silva revealed he heard an art professional quote Allon [2] and some real-world news accounts make reference to the Allon series and wonder whether the specific news will become part of the series.[6]

Main characters[edit]

Gabriel's Team[edit]

Allon's team is known by the code name Barak, the Hebrew word for lightning.[7] and most of his team plays a role throughout the novels in the series. Some of them include:

  • Ari Shamron — former head of the Office. A Polish-born Jew from Lviv, his parents sent him to Israel as a teenager before the war; consequently he was the only member from his entire extended family to survive the Holocaust. Shamron is a father figure and mentor to Gabriel and the person who recruited him into the Office with the three-year Wrath of God operation. To Allon and his team, he's known as the Memuneh (Hebrew for 'the one in charge'). He is officially retired as the head of the Office, but it still remains his private fiefdom; he groomed and raised an entire generation of its officers, many of whom comprise much of the service's current senior management & executive staff. Eventually after the departure of two of his successors, he makes Uzi Navot the director general of the Office after finally giving up trying to perpetually force Gabriel to take the job (who repeatedly refused to accept the position). He is known throughout the Israeli intelligence community as the Old Man, being one of the last remaining members of the generation of spymasters who founded the state back in 1948 and as a result whose advice & counsel is still sought out regularly by the highest ranking leaders of the current Israeli defense & security establishment. While his age isn't explicitly referenced (or consistent through the series) his aging and health is of concern to Allon and his team; it is mentioned many times that he is also an incessant chain-smoker of sixty filthy, vile-smelling Turkish cigarettes daily. Gilah, Ari's long suffering wife, frequently plays a role as a mother figure to Gabriel and his team. Shamron's niece Rimona Stern is a key figure in Gabriel's team.[7] While Shamron's character is clearly based in history (he is known to Gabriel and his team [as well as most Israelis] as the man who apprehended Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires) his real-world character is never identified in the novels. However in an interview, Silva said that Shamron is a composite of several historical figures including Isser Harel, head of Mossad when Eichmann was apprehended.[8] Following this connection, Harel wanted to meet Silva, but they were not able to establish a meeting before Harel died.[8]
  • Chiara Allon (née Zolli) — Gabriel's wife and now retired Office agent who he meets in The Confessor. She is the incredibly beautiful and intelligent daughter of Venice's chief rabbi.[9] After what happened with his wife and son, he wasn't sure he could ever let himself fall in love another woman ever again, and it took several years (and the light but unending pressure and reminding of Shamron and his wife) for him to be willing to marry Chiara.[1] When they first meet at her father's office in Venice during the course of his investigation into a Brenzone abbey (in the third book), he does not realize Chiara is a member of the Office, later having been assigned to follow him while he was in Rome. When he escapes while under fire (and wounded) from the Carabinieri who have been sent to apprehend him at a Rome hotel (albeit on a false tip), she saves his life when he is cornered in an Rome alleyway by an assassin in pursuit, appearing at the last moment on a motorcycle, taking him to an Office safehouse where she bandages his wounds and sits awake at his bedside with a pistol in her lap through the night, standing guard over him while he sleeps.[10]She holds a master's degree in history from the University of Padua. Her own background & understanding of art & history as someone who grew up in the Jewish ghetto in Venice is a nice complement to Allon's art restoring work.
  • Uzi Navot – first appears early in the series as the Office chief of station in Paris, steadily advancing to assume responsibility for supervision for all western European case officers, later director of special operations and finally as Office director general in the latest installments. Like Gabriel, he is the son of Holocaust survivors (albeit several years younger and from a long lineage of Viennese Jews). Also very linguistically versatile; known to be fluent in English, French, German and Hebrew, as well as speaking passable Arabic and Spanish. Eventually he gets married to Bella, his longtime on-and-off lover, who is a university professor in Israel. Uzi's appetite and fluctuating weight is regularly mentioned as a problem for him, as well as Bella's unremitting monitoring and occasional verbal scolding of him for it, much to the amusement of other characters.
  • Eli Lavon — a former Office agent who is now a professor of biblical archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The wispy haired professor is usually on an excavation when Gabriel recruits him to take part in another job. Their history together dates back to Gabriel Allon's first mission, Operation Wrath of God, for which Lavon was an ayin, a tracker and surveillance specialist. He is known as the finest street surveillance operative that the Office has ever produced; No recruit graduates the from Office training academy without spending a few days studying at the feet of Eli Lavon. After the Wrath of God operation he resigned from the Office and moved to Vienna, where until the bombing at the beginning of the 4th novel, he was the director of a very successful Holocaust restitution research & investigative agency named the Bureau of Wartime Claims and Inquiries. Lavon is shown to speak fluent English, German, Hebrew and Russian, as well as passable French. It is stated that Lavon is a several years older than Gabriel and that he has known Gabriel longer and better than anyone else among the supporting cast, except Ari Shamron.
  • Shimon Pazner – Negev-born Office chief of station in Rome (which doubles as headquarters for Office operations throughout the Mediterranean). Usually interacts or meets with Gabriel during operations in Italy. Gabriel's requesting and Pazner's granting of unwarranted favors and Gabriel's subsequent actions usually end up destroying Pazner's goodwill towards him and often nearly his career in the process.
  • Dina Sarid — an Office research department analyst driven by an attack by a suicide bomber that injured her and killed her mother and two sisters. She still walks with a limp. Her encyclopedic knowledge of names, faces and dates of terrorist attacks is second to none. Is part of the assorted group that comprises Gabriel's Barak team that assembles on short notice in response to occurrences of terrorist attacks and operations. [7]
  • Rimona Stern—Shamron's niece who Allon has known since she was a child. A major in the IDF's military intelligence directorate, in later books it is stated that she assigned to Israel's joint task force assigned to deal with Iran's increasing imminent nuclear ambitions. [7]
  • Mikhail Abramov — Moscow-born former special forces officer currently on loan to the Office from the IDF's elite Sayeret Matkal special operations unit. Has been described as Gabriel without a conscience, having dismantled a large portion of the upper echelons of Hamas and Islamic Jihad "practically by himself".[7] Was romantically linked to Sarah Bancroft.
  • Yaakov Rossman — an active case officer in Shabak who serves in the Arab Affairs department, running agents and sources inside the West Bank and Gaza. Speaks fluent Arabic. Known as one of Shabak's most skilled interrogators.
  • Oded — German-speaking agent often used by Gabriel as an all-purpose operative who specializes in the direct (and often lethal) action portions of Gabriel's operations (kidnappings, interrogations, mobile hit-and-runs, etc.) Usually brought in by Gabriel with Mordecai.
  • Mordecai — usually brought in by Gabriel with Oded. The primary tech specialist and troubleshooter within Gabriel's team, specializing in vehicular surveillance, communications, and electronics equipment/devices.

Combat/Muscle Section

There is no part of the team that is actually called that (or something similar) in the series, but what it refers to is the specific members of Gabriel's team that have significant combat training and generally support Gabriel during the more physical & deadly aspects of his operations (armed & hand-to-hand combat, kidnappings, interrogations, and executions) while all the other members of his team stay behind. This usually includes:

  • Mikhail: (always). As the member of the team with the most advanced combat/special forces training (armed, hand to hand, & otherwise) aside from Gabriel, Mikhail usually acts as Gabriel's motorcycle driver on drive-by hits (or vice-versa), as well as his primary partner while executing targets on foot.
  • Yaakov: an integral part of this section, specializing primarily in conducting interrogations but also usually present while conducting surveillance, armed assaults as well as kidnappings. Occasionally acts as Gabriel's driver.
  • Uzi: when present. Although not an expert like Gabriel and Mikhail (or always in the best of shape physically), as a katsa Uzi has extensive combat & firearms training. Also as easily the largest man on Gabriel's team in terms of size he is usually the one who breaches the entrances when the element of surprise is no longer a factor.
  • Oded: when present. Participating in any physical aspects, doing a little of everything.

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Sarah Bancroft — CIA officer who worked with Gabriel and his Office team on several assignments. The daughter of wealthy Citibank executive, she spent her most of her early years being educated at the finest boarding schools throughout western Europe, returning to the States to attend university. Holds a bachelor's in art history from Dartmouth; studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London before receiving a Ph.D from Harvard, where she was the author of a highly acclaimed doctoral dissertation on the German Expressionists. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks (in which her fiancée was killed) she applied to the CIA, but was dismissed. When Carter arranges for Gabriel to meet her during The Messenger as a prospective candidate for an assignment in a joint US-Israeli deep cover operation, she was working as a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington. Later in the series, after working with him on an operation she dated Mikhail for a significant period (much to Gabriel's consternation).
  • Graham Seymour — the Oxbridge-educated deputy director general of MI5, known to be several years older than Gabriel. Shown to be a very strict by-the-book officer in regards to operational parameters (often legally-speaking) and very much attuned to internal British politics in regards to MI5/MI6. Often very hesitant and wary to grant Gabriel permission to operate on British soil and very quick to reprimand Gabriel's actions and distance himself if their joint operations go awry.
  • Adrian Carter – longtime CIA director of operations, later director of clandestine services. Known to be a polyglot. Has a decades-long working relationship with Shamron (known to be several years older than Carter) as well as a strong professional & personal relationship with Seymour. His service (the CIA) generally ends up footing the bill of all of the Anglo-Israeli joint operations and is responsible for the documentation (passports, visas, etc.), as well as logistical relations and political support from other countries' not usually involved and their corresponding security & intelligence services. His relations with Gabriel tend to be much warmer than Seymour's.
  • Julian Isherwood — the German Jewish born owner of Isherwood Fine Arts, a London-based art gallery specializing in Old Masters. Was recruited as a sayan by Shamron in the mid-1970s for one very specific purpose: to facilitate and maintain the identity of Mario Delvecchio, a Cornwall-based Italian expatriate art restorer of Old Masters paintings; in reality the operational cover of Gabriel Allon.

Titles[edit]

  1. The Kill Artist (2000)
  2. The English Assassin (2002)
  3. The Confessor (2003)
  4. A Death in Vienna (2004)
  5. Prince of Fire (2005)
  6. The Messenger (2006)
  7. The Secret Servant (2007)
  8. Moscow Rules (2008)
  9. The Defector (2009)
  10. The Rembrandt Affair (2010)
  11. Portrait of a Spy (2011)
  12. The Fallen Angel (2012)
  13. The English Girl (2013)
  14. The Heist (2014)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Silva, Daniel. "Behind the Series". HarperCollins. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Moscow Rules spy novelist Daniel Silva". Hugh Hewitt. 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  3. ^ Lipez, Richard (2005-04-25). "The Ambivalent Assassin". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  4. ^ Lervik, Tanya K. "Daniel Silva Launches "English Girl" Featuring Art Restorer Gabriel Allon at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue". ARCA Blog. Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  5. ^ Dunn, Adam (2004-03-25). "The spy who copes with the Holocaust". CNN. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  6. ^ Collins, Liat (2010-02-27). "My Word: A perplexing Purim". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Silva, Daniel (2012). The Fallen Angel. HarperCollins. p. 126. 
  8. ^ a b Redman, Bridgette. "Daniel Silva Talks About Middle East Espionage Novels". ConsumerHelpWeb. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  9. ^ Dogole, Anna. "Prince of Fire". The Jewish Eye. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  10. ^ "The Confessor". The Confessor. eNotes. Retrieved 2012-08-13.