Publication Order of Millennium Books
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo||(2005)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Girl Who Played with Fire||(2006)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Girl in the Spider's Web||(2015)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Publication Order of Millennium Graphic Novels
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Book 1||(2012)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Book 2||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Girl Who Played with Fire||(2014)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Lisbeth Salander is a lead character in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. She is a young Swedish hacker who works as a private investigator for Merrin Security Inc, a local security firm. Due to her history of violence and her confinement to a children’s’ mental asylum, Salander is put under legal guardianship. In the series Salander uses her outstanding hacking skills to collaborate with journalist Mikael Blomkvist— the main character in the series—to solve the mystery of a number of murders and sex trade scandals in Sweden. Salander is a very dynamic character who always acts contrary to the expectations of the reader and of other characters in the series. Larsson’s take on Salander is quite equivocal. Behind the apparently troubled, asocial and introvert character lies a whole reservoir of compassion and loyalty. The books of the series show different aspects of her personality.
The Hacker and Detective in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Character of Salander appears in all of Larsson’s trilogy which was posthumously published between 2005 and 2007. It appears also in the fourth sequel The Girl in the Spider’s Web in 2015. It is noteworthy, however, that the fourth installment in the series is not authored by Larsson. It was created and written by Swedish writer David Lagercrantz
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in the Millennium series published in 2005. When the novel starts, Mikael Blomkvist , a journalist from a local left-wing magazine is awaiting to serve his three-month sentence in prison for libeling a Swedish billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, the journalist is hired to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger, the grandniece of the affluent Henrik Vanger. When Salander hacks into his computer and sends him an anonymous message that will help him solve part of the Vanger incident, Blomkvist decides to collaborate with her in the Vanger investigation. The Salander- Blomkvist collaboration will yield horrible evidence of a family conspiracy against Henrik and his niece.
The book was met with a lot of admiration and enthusiasm by millions of readers in the world. Readers were particularly fascinated with Larsson’s talent to balance Salander’s social ills and nonconformity against her commitment to improve herself. Salander wins the sympathy of the reader right from the outset. The reader is easily drawn to the plot, and is able to see the twists and turns of the character as she tries to reconcile her unorthodox demeanor and style with her traumatic past. As the plot unfolds, the reader is able to get some clues of how she has become the asocial person she is today. Her relation to her father and her sexual abuse at the hands of her legal Guardian Nils Bjurman come to the fore as she saves her friend and lover from being hanged by one of the Vangers. The book was made into a movie in 2011 directed by David Fincher, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
Linking the Past to the Present in The Girl Who Played with Fire
The reader gets more insight into Salander’s past in the prologue to the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire published in 2006 and translated into English in 2009. In the prologue, a girl appears captured and tied by an unknown male in a dark room. To help herself cope with her capture, the girl recalls a past event where she set another man on fire inside a car. We later learn that the man she sets on fire is her own father, and that her capture in the dark room echoes her experience at the children’s mental institution.
Salander’s characterization seems to have matured in this book. Larsson succeeds to highlight the strength of the character by emphasizing three qualities in her: her photographic memory, her talent as a detective and a hacker, and finally her determination to seek revenge. The unorthodox nature of Salander seems to have abated in the second novel. An improvement in her look (she now has most of piercings and tattoos removed, and her clothing habits seem to have altered as well) suggests a development in her mentality. She is more interested to have an active social life, as we see her making new friends.
There is a remarkable shift in the narrative voice insofar as the characterization of Salander is concerned. While in the first book the narrative focuses on the event surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger, the second book is an investigation into Salander’s own past . Salander seeks to find out what past events have made her the asocial person she now is, and why in the first place she has come to be under legal guardianship. The twists and turns of the plot establish Salander as the protagonist of the book and impels the reader to rethink his assumptions about her in the first book. The image of Lisbeth Salander as schizophrenic, psychopath and mentally incompetent is dashed and the reader is introduced to a more complex side of her mind. The perplexing nature of the connection between Salander, violence and crime is still unsolved in this book. The reader is led to see a similarity between Salander and Raskolnikov, the main character in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment . The second book was also made in into a movie in 2009 directed by Daniel Alfredson.
Inspired by redhead Pippi Longstocking, Salander is an intriguing character to study. The reader is presented by many contradicting accounts of her in the novel. For her former guardian and old friend Holger Palmgren , she is “a difficult child” (8.129). Nils Bjurman describes her as “ a murderous insane, and a whore” (2.102). In the papers she is described as “psychotic triple murderer” (20.17). It seems that Larsson’s opinion of her is ambiguous or at least incomplete.
The narrative intention to unveil the hidden reservoir of compassion and loyalty in the character continues in the third and final sequel written by Larsson. It can be assumed that her compassionate and loyal nature would have been developed more in the seven books that Larsson intended to write. It seems that his untimely death has left a gap not only in the narrative but also in the minds of his readers. One thing is sure, however, Salander is one of the finest creations that populate our fictional world today.