The Eiger Sanction

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For the 1975 movie starring Clint Eastwood, see The Eiger Sanction (film).
The Eiger Sanction
First edition cover
Author Trevanian
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller
Publisher Outlet (Crown)
Publication date
October 1972
Media type Print
Pages 316 (First edition)
ISBN 0-517-50034-5
OCLC 508403
LC Class PZ4.T8135 Ei PS3570.R44
Followed by The Loo Sanction

The Eiger Sanction is a 1972 thriller novel by Trevanian, the pen name of Rodney William Whitaker.[1] The story is about a classical art professor and collector who doubles as a professional assassin, and who is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend. The novel was made into a film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood in 1975.[1] Whitaker wrote a sequel entitled The Loo Sanction.[1]


Dr. Jonathan Hemlock is an art professor and mountaineer. He is also a collector of paintings, most of them obtained from the black market. To finance his collection he works as a so-called "counter-assassin" for a secret US government agency, the CII.

In order to acquire a Pissarro, Hemlock agrees to carry out a couple of "sanctions" (contract assassinations targeted specifically against killers of American agents). The first one is easily dealt with in Montreal. For the second, he will need to join a group of climbers who are about to attempt the north face of the Eiger, a particularly difficult challenge. Hemlock goes back into training and eventually climbs the mountain with the team that he believes includes his would-be victim — whose identity he will have to deduce on the mountain itself. Poor climbing conditions disrupt the climb and lead Hemlock to the discovery that his target is someone other than he had expected.


  • Jonathan Hemlock lives in a renovated Gothic church on Long Island. He teaches art, climbs mountains, and performs assassinations (sanctions) to get money to augment his fabulous collection of art masterpieces purchased in the black market. Against his will he is tricked into a hazardous sanction assignment that involves an attempt to conquer and scale one of the most treacherous mountain peaks in the Swiss Alps, the Eiger.
  • Yurasis Dragon is an ironic, sinister albino who masterminds CII's secret operations from an office shrouded in darkness to protect his photosensitive eyes.
  • Jemima is a blazing black beauty who loves Hemlock but who mysteriously appears at the times of his utmost peril to urge him on to greater and greater demonstrations of loyalty to CII's partisan cause.
  • Ben is the non-climbing leader of the team destined to risk their lives on the Eiger north face, a man bitterly disappointed by an injury that left him unfit to scale any but the most insignificant peaks and who must now train men to do what he could once do himself.
  • Miles is a onetime friend of Hemlock, a traitor, an informer, a drug dealer, with a penchant for young men, and yet one of the most powerful agents in the vice-ridden underground.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Oliver, Myrna (December 19, 2005). "Rodney Whitaker, a.k.a. Trevanian, 74; Author Wrote 'Eiger Sanction'". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ Trevanian. The Eiger Sanction. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 978-0-517-50034-7. 

External links[edit]