Book Review Of I Am Pilgrim By Terry Hayes


I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is a gripping and intricately woven thriller that takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through the complex world of espionage, terrorism, and international intrigue. The novel follows the enigmatic and highly skilled intelligence operative known only as Pilgrim as he is reluctantly drawn out of retirement to investigate a seemingly unrelated series of events that eventually converge into a global threat.


The story begins with the discovery of a gruesome murder in a dilapidated Manhattan hotel. Pilgrim, now living a secluded life under an alias, is brought back into the fold when his unique set of skills is deemed necessary for solving the case. As he delves into the investigation, Pilgrim realizes that this murder is just the tip of the iceberg, leading him to a much larger and more sinister plot orchestrated by an elusive adversary.


The narrative unfolds through multiple timelines and perspectives, providing a rich and layered storytelling experience. We learn about Pilgrim’s past, his training, and the events that led to his expertise in forensic analysis and intelligence operations. Simultaneously, we follow the trail of a terrorist known as Saracen, who poses a significant threat to global security.


The novel takes readers on a globetrotting journey, from the backstreets of New York to the luxurious palaces of Saudi Arabia, the chaotic streets of Istanbul, and the war-torn landscapes of Afghanistan. The intricate plot weaves together elements of cyber warfare, biological terrorism, and political conspiracy, creating a tapestry of suspense that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.


One of the novel’s strengths lies in its well-developed characters. Pilgrim, with his complex personality and moral dilemmas, is a compelling protagonist. Saracen, the antagonist, is equally intriguing, with a backstory that adds depth to his motivations. The supporting cast, including intelligence operatives, government officials, and terrorists, are all finely drawn, adding layers to the intricate plot.


As the story hurtles towards its climax, Pilgrim races against time to prevent a catastrophic event that could change the course of history. The novel explores themes of morality, sacrifice, and the consequences of one’s actions in the pursuit of justice.


I Am Pilgrim is a masterfully crafted thriller that combines meticulous research with heart-pounding action. Terry Hayes’s skillful storytelling and attention to detail create a compelling narrative that keeps readers hooked until the final page. With its global scope, complex characters, and a plot that navigates the blurred lines between good and evil, I Am Pilgrim stands out as a must-read for fans of the genre.

Book Club Discussion Questions on I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes


  • Is I Am Pilgrim excessively long? If so, which sections would you consider changing for brevity?

  • Did you find any elements of the storyline in I Am Pilgrim to be implausible? Share your thoughts.

  • The novel delves into drug cartels, terrorism, CIA, and intelligence services. Did it enhance your understanding, and how credible do you find Terry Hayes’s narrative?

  • Examine the character of Saracen. Did you feel any sympathy for him? If your book club comprises individuals from different religious denominations, discuss how this diversity influenced your interpretation of events.

  • What is your perspective on BattleBoi? Was he justified in receiving a pardon?

  • Explore the dynamics between Ben and Marcie. What observations can you make about their relationship?

  • As a reader, how do you feel about the exhaustive detailing in a thriller like I Am Pilgrim leading to the final outcome?

  • I Am Pilgrim has been touted as the must-read thriller of the year. Do you agree with this assessment?

  • Speculate on what might happen to Pilgrim next in the storyline.

  • Why do you think the events in the novel took place in Bedlam?

  • Discuss the significance of the French house in I Am Pilgrim.

  • Share the emotions you experienced after completing this substantial book.

  • Some books lack a conclusive ending, but in this thriller, all loose ends are seemingly tied together. Do you agree with this statement? Discuss the ending of the book.

  • Examine the portrayal of Saracen’s son in the novel.

  • What insights do we gain about Saracen’s wife throughout the story?

  • Discuss the importance of the name Saracen in relation to the events in the novel. The Saracen manufactured 10,000 smallpox virus injections. Some believe that COVID was a virus created by a human. Is such a thing possible or likely? Discuss.

  • Reflect on Pilgrim’s ability to endure immense torture. How do you think you would fare in a similar situation?

  • In I Am Pilgrim, how do the depictions of Middle Eastern politics connect with what we observe in today’s world? Share your thoughts on any similarities or differences, and consider how the novel’s representation aligns with modern Middle Eastern political situations.

  • This book was initially published in 2014. Would its reception have been different a decade ago? Share your thoughts.

  • Terry Hayes characterizes Pilgrim as “smart, insightful, and very capable.” Do you concur? Delve into your perspective on Pilgrim’s attributes.

  • How does the expansive global setting of I Am Pilgrim, encompassing continents like North America, Europe, and the Middle East, contribute to the overall impact of the story? In what ways does the diverse geographical backdrop enrich or influence your comprehension of the characters and the plot?

  • Within the narrative, Pilgrim must adopt a relatively sycophantic demeanor towards Saudi Arabian officials to achieve his objectives. Explore the themes of culture and society as portrayed in the book.

Discussion Question on I Am Pilgrim (for those who haven't read the book)

  • What elements do you believe are essential to a gripping thriller? Is it primarily the plot twists, the pacing, the characters, or something else entirely?

  • How do you think thrillers differ from other genres like mystery or horror? What unique qualities do they bring to the table?

  • Who are some of your favorite thriller authors, and what makes their writing stand out to you? Do you prefer psychological thrillers, action-packed thrillers, or a combination of both?

  • Thrillers often delve into the darker aspects of human nature. Why do you think readers are drawn to stories that explore themes of fear, suspense, and danger?

  • Can you think of any memorable plot twists or endings from thriller novels that completely surprised you or left a lasting impact? What do you believe makes a twist truly effective in a thriller?

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