Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Wilbur Smith's meisterwerk
on 30 April 2017
I've read this book many times, and surely will read it again. However, I have had to drop a star. It could be the world that's changed, or me, or both.
So, the story starts in 1970's Southern Africa, present day at the time of writing, and covers the discovery of a lost civilisation of, you've guessed it, white settlers who whopped the natives for hundreds of years before disappearing. The second act takes the reader back in time to that civilisation, where the present day characters are super imposed on the ancient ones.
Pretty clever, and pretty good.
So why only four stars? Well, Wilbur Smith tends to write his characters the rough the Monaco prism. By that I mean they're all rich, beautiful, talented, super intelligent etc etc. Not exactly real world, but if that's what you want, OK. And I have to say, some of the character flaws, after this reading, made me like them a whole lot less.
Louren Sturvesant, alpha male, rich, arrogant, goes round slapping the staff and slutting around on his wife with his best friend's girlfriend. But, that narrative says that's OK, because you can't judge him by the 'normal' rules, hmmm.
Sally Benator, does the dirty on her boyfriend, with his best friend.
Ben Kazin, puts up with all this cr*p, and still loves them both.
OK, you can suspend your disbelief only so far.
That aside, the are the usual political observations about southern Africa at that time are aired, and the reader is on common ground there. Throw into the mix Timothy Mageba, Ben's protege who turns traitor, and very overt themes of not trusting the natives, it might be OK to slap them around, but as long as the whites are in charge, it could be worse, right?
The second part is simply amazing though, a meisterwerk of imaginative writing, creating a world of Carthaginan settlers in southern Africa, and Smith brings it to life amazingly. Again though, there is the less than subtle message if the whites outnumbered on all sides and having to fight for their existence in a hostile land. I would imagine this story was lapped up by the Rhodies at the time, a real rallying call and warning of what might happen if... And having said all that, they might say that Mr Smith (Wilbur, not Ian...but then again) might have had a point.
Having said all of that, of course you might just want to forget the world outside and simply enjoy this book on a whole different level, that being it's a very well written, exciting, dramatic, tragic and uplifting story all in one.
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