Libertarian novels tend to fall into two categories, one good and one bad. Either they are complex, thought-provoking treatises – typified by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged - or they are reference-laden stories where every line of conversation is predictable to anyone who has read anything libertarian, and will likely only serve to annoy anyone who hasn’t. Mark Tier’s novel, Trust Your Enemies, successfully smashes this dichotomy and establishes a third kind; a novel driven primarily through plot, that gets its message across not through long speeches and introspective discussion, but through a gripping progression of events, where the philosophy emerges naturally as a consequence of what happens. Leonard Peikoff has written that “…after she had completed Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand occasionally said that she wanted to write a pure adventure story without any deep philosophical theme”. She never did, but Mark Tier may well have written what it would have been.
The story revolves around three protagonists: Alison McGuire, a chief political advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, Derek Olsson, a freight and newspaper magnate currently in jail for a drug murder and Karla Preston, a recalcitrant journalist (and Olsson’s current girlfriend) seemingly hell-bent on exposing every politician’s lie in existence.
The novel’s plot twists and weaves, with the first part providing the reader with unsolved drug murders, corrupt politicians, blackmail, religious extremists, dubiously-motivated foreign interventions, mysteriously helpful computer nerds and ex-KGB agents. The dizzying time-shifting plot fully justifies the novel’s length; at over 750 pages, it might at be considered too serious an investment for a thriller, but not a word is wasted. Some distance in, lengthy reminisces about Olsson’s painful childhood may make the reader wonder if Tier isn’t perhaps being too generous with the complex character development... until they turn the page and realizes that no, they just weren’t smart enough to see the relevance. Without giving it away, all that can be said about the ending is that it doesn’t disappoint, with Tier even managing to include a dash of distinctly Rothbardian optimism.
Whilst there is some overt philosophical discussion in the novel, the libertarian message is most brilliantly spread not through dialogue but through the characters’ purposeful actions. Instead of dwelling in depth, for example, on a discussion of the libertarian position on drug use, Tier simply makes one of the main characters get involved in the trade. The character’s entrepreneurial nature makes the choice so obvious, so natural, that a mainstream reader, perhaps uninterested and disdainful of intellectual pursuits, will temporarily fail to notice that what is being done can, in real life, earn one lengthy jail sentences and death penalties. When the realization does come about (likely again through a twist in the novel’s plot), a serious rethink of the issue will be the likely result; whereas had the theme been introduced with a simple conversation, it would likely have resulted in the reader deciding to pick up a Tom Clancy instead. In another example of avoiding the all-too-obvious and painstakingly overt discussion, a side narrative relating to an insider trading and illegitimate mining permits case steers entirely clear of any philosophical dialogue, leaving the reader to figure out the complexities for themselves, a maneuver Tier employs repeatedly and to great effect.
Where the novel does become explicitly philosophical, furthermore, the discussion is almost always in conversation form, and always integrated within the framework of the story itself. For example, when Karla is trying to organize a meeting with Alison’s boss, and is explaining why she prefers to pay for her own expenses:
“‘Without their consent’?” Alison said heatedly. “This is a democracy, after all.”
“So it is,” Karla sighed. “But if taxation were truly voluntary, do you think enough money would be collected to pay your salary? We can talk about it some other time if you want to. In any case, I won’t be coming to Canberra just to talk to your boss. So I’ll pay my own way, okay?”
Strange woman, Alison thought as she put down the phone and turned back to skimming the newspapers (p. 288).
Moreover, the novel avoids leaning upon John Galt-style perfect characters. Olsson, perhaps the hero of the story (although it isn’t easy to tell with so many candidates), makes many mistakes along the way, only at the end seriously embracing a well-rounded ideological commitment to libertarianism (which goes unnamed as such, except once when used by a detractor pejoratively). This decision ensures that a reader will not simply be bombarded with what appears to be idealistic propaganda, but rather is taken on a journey alongside imperfect individuals that can be easily empathized with as they develop.
In conclusion, Mark Tier’s novel is a standout amongst libertarian novels, and is particularly notable for gently nudging the reader in the right direction rather than bludgeoning them, as many others do. As far as can be determined, it is Australia’s first libertarian novel, and one of which we should be proud.
 Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged, Signet, New York, 1957.
 For example:
“Identity,” said the guard, pointing the Taser directly at Harper.
““A is A,”” Mr, Harper replied, evidently bored with the procedure.
J.N. Schulman, Alongside Night, Crown Publishers, New York, 1979, p.100.
 L. Peikoff (ed), The Early Ayn Rand, Revised Edition: A Selection from her Unpublished Fiction, Signet, New York, 2005.