The Millennium Trilogy – Compelled to Finish it Despite Myself

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, beginning with ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, has been a publishing phenomenon, an incredible successful story that has subsequently spawned a multitude of wannabes and ‘the next’ Stieg Larssons. Already filmed in Swedish, an English language movie of the first book will soon be released in the UK.

Watching the three Swedish movies, recognising many of the cast members from being a consumer of the Swedish TV series of Wallander, gave me the odd impression of being familiar with nearly all of their acting fraternity.

The three films came  courtesy of my Lovefilm subscription, and as I reached the end of the final movie, I realised that I had stuck with the trilogy of movies for pretty much the same reasons I had persevered with the books.

I enjoyed the first book; it was intriguing, throwing light on a society about which I knew very little, a murky underside of the country otherwise the cliché land of Ikea,Volvos  and Abba.  Added to that there was an unusual anti-heroine, as well as a morality tale on the virtues and risks involved in writing the truth.  The writing is a bit ropey and there’s a mass of information, not all of which is relevant, but it’s a cracking tale.

I waited for the second novel to appear in great anticipation, looking forward to finding out what happened next.  By the time I got to the end of that one, I began to think that it was all rather long, and would have benefited from some judicious editing and pruning.  I read the third because I could borrow it from a friend and it would complete the set.  At the beginning though it was a bit of a struggle, and so, frustrated with my inability to get on and finish it, I stayed up late one night to get it read.  There were so many loose ends to be tied up that it all felt rather rushed and reductive by the end, but at least I’d got there.

I followed exactly the same arc with the movies.  They had the feel of having been made for TV, rather than anything flashy and cinematic, but by the time they got the third one, it all seemed a but cursory; could the fact that Lovefilm made the last installment available to stream rather than having to wait for the DVD to arrive indicate that they agreed with me?

For all its faults however, it’s a good lesson in the importance of a good story and of an unusual and strong protagonist.

Leave a comment


  1. “Rather Long”


    That it was, and if one read it with a writerly eye, it was clear how he was learning to write novels rather than journalism. Each book was better written than the last. I quite enjoyed the detail, because I used to investigate things and painstaking attention to detail, spotting the little dingbat that sticks out is the nature of that game.

    I was sorry to see him die, and (the rat) leave his missus wif nuffink, but I have to admit I HATED the fact that Monica Figuerola would be no more. I LOVED that character. In fact, as he’s gone, someone very like Monica F might appear in my fiction:)


    • I think all three books would have been better had he lived and the publishers had felt able to edit them more rigorously. I think the third was the weakest of them all, and I’m afraid Monica F didn’t stick much in my mind, but I like the idea of using a character that has made a deep impression on you in your own writing.


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