Around a week and a half a go I took up the first book of the Millennium Trilogy and went on a wild ride through the entire series that ended just now. The series takes us into the lives of a suave disgraced middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, a young, anti-social hacker who scrapes by with odd jobs from a private investigation and security firm. They begin their journey with Mikael working on an old and retired industrial magnate’s personal pet project to find out what happened to his troubled niece. As things heat up a chance reference puts Lisbeth at Mikael’s disposal to wrap up a strange tale that takes on a crazy life of its own, leading to a life and death crisis for our heroes. The trilogy takes a roller coaster ride through international espionage and the dark underbelly of Swedish government.
I don’t recall ever being on the edge of my seat for three volumes of non-stop adrenaline. The heroine Lisbeth Salander is a petite, tattoo-ed, cyber punk with much more than meets the eye. Stieg Larsson breathes life into her like a master where the reader is presented with a morally ambiguous anti-hero that they can’t help but love for her fiestiness and resourcefulness. Throughout the books we get taken on a tour of her dark past that explores what makes her tick. We are shown her personal journey as she matures in hew own way. While she is morally ambiguous to any outside observer if not an outright crook, we see that she never compromises her principles and lives by her own code of vendetta justice that commands its own brand of respect. Larsson pulls off an amazing feat by creating a character so unique and fantastic yet so vibrantly real.
Mikael Blomqvist is a middle-aged journalist that still embodies the high ideals of youth and boyish charm he entered the profession with. He is at once a shrewd journalist careful to play his cards right yet so stupidly naive and unflinching in his beliefs. Outside of his untiring dedication to uncovering the truth and willingness to put everything on the line, he is almost like a baby that needs strong and smart women to keep him on course.
These two characters and the ensemble cast form such a potent mixture that readers are easily lost in a potent mix of journalism, cyber crime, and law. Stieg Larsson may have died before his legacy saw the light of day but the trilogy couldn’t have been more complete. As I embarked on the last volume I was touched by a pang of sadness that the journey would be over and over for good. Larsson died before his first book reached the press and became an international sensation. A largely complete but not quite finished manuscript in the series lies on the hard-drive of a computer in his common-law wife’s possession as she is locked in an acrimonious battle with Larsson’s family that would not be out of place in his own novels. Although I wish Larsson could have lived to see this and would gladly read another installment in this fabulous series, I can only say that the trilogy as it stands is a beautifully complete work that deserves to stay in its perpetual state of perfection. It’s the stuff legends are made of. An astounding work of art, an artist dead before his time without seeing its success, just like the story of Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium Trilogy.
On the contrary, I’m satisfied and feel richer for the experience of reading a work so entertaining and complete. Although I’m curious about what other adventures Larsson had cooked up for Salander, I’m happy to let the Millennium Trilogy stand as it is and can only hope that another modern master steps up to fill his shoes.