The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox

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The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel is set in the reign of Queen Victoria, but the location is Africa. A fast-paced heroic tale which blends fact with fiction and where the hero is an awfully nice English chap.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2010
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755345618

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This is the latest in the adventures of Simon Fonthill, a cross between a Victorian James Bond and Indianna Jones. Although one of a series, it stands alone as a novel. It's steeped in the history (and there's a lot of it) of the late 19th century when Queen Victoria 'ruled the world.'

Enter one Mr S Fonthill, a gung-ho sort of a chap, who is honest as the day is long but who is also brave and adventurous. Heady mixture. He's accompanied by his lovely, English wife Alice. She's adorable. She's also feisty and portrays a strong sense of what's right and wrong in the bigger issues concerning Africa. The Fonthills have seen plenty of action in their relatively young lives and had been intent on settling down in boring, old England. But they changed their minds. Add in a lovable rogue with a regional accent and we have an interesting little group.

Straight away we're deep in the African bush. The bush seems always to be alive with noise, the squeal of hyenas, the barking of baboons ... the roar of lions. and that's before we take into account hostile natives, armed with spears. We're talking extremely dangerous terrain on many levels. But .. and it's a pretty big but, the Fonthill's group is armed with rifles. This affords them some peace of mind, some sleep at night, as they embark on their mission.

It's a battle between the white man (in this case under the guidance of one Cecil Rhodes) and the tribal kingdoms trying desperately to retain their land. Basically, Rhodes wants King Lobengula's (yes the local names are all nicely almost unpronounceable) land at any price. He's quite a character. I couldn't help liking him - almost to the point of wanting to be wife no 64 ... or was it was 65. His respect for Queen Victoria is extremely touching. But, having said this, his trust in the 'white' man has been sorely tested resulting in his boast that he has 20,000 warriors who are just dying to wash their spears in British blood.

Fonthill appears a decent chap, but can the king trust him? To add to the situation, other European countries want their piece of Africa. It's like a pride of lions fighting over their kill. All these countries are beating a path to Africa's door. But who will Africa let in? Simon Fonthill needs the diplomacy of an ambassador at all times.

When the fictional Fonthill and the real Cecil Rhodes meet, you can sense the friction. Fonthill certainly can. When they meet to discuss tactics Fonthill describes Rhodes' character as similar to a charming steamroller.

Rhodes' vision is to claim vast areas of prime African land, by hook or by crook - land fit for the white man. This final mission or patrol (hence the title) is of enormous importance.

A page-turner of a book, action-packed and seamlessly blending fact and fiction. Strap yourselves in for some roller-coaster excitement, if you can stomach some unpalatable blood and guts throughout the ride.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For more about Africa why not try Traversa by Fran Sandham?.

Buy The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shangani Patrol by John Wilcox at Amazon.com.


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