A FALCON FLIES by WILBUR SMITH.
In search of the father they barely remember, Zouga and Dr Robyn Ballantyne board Mungo St John's magnificent clipper to speed them to Africa. But long before they sight that mighty continent Robyn knows that she and Mungo will battle with all the fury of natural enemies - and love with all the desperation of those unable to evade the commands of fate. For if she can bring hope and healing to Africa's fever-ridden shores, he, a lawless trader in human cargo, will possess any man - or woman - he chooses .....
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (1860): Africa crouched low on the horizon, like a lion in ambush, tawny and gold in the early sunlight, seared by the cold of the Benguela Current.
MAGICAL MOMENT (Page 614): "Sweet merciful heavens, Mr Tippoo, but whatever you are eating should have been given a Christian burial a month ago."
MY THOUGHTS: Used as I am to having a love/hate relationship with this authors work even I was surprised to find myself having such very mixed feelings about A Falcon Flies.
An epic story of siblings, Robyn and (Morris) Zouga's, search for their missionary father in 1800's Africa, this is a story of slavery, hunting and adventure on (and off) the high seas.
Part one in what turns out to be a series of four novels, this occasionally felt as if it was two books combined into one - the more adventurous 'swash and buckle' elements perhaps more appealing to male readers, the more 'human', romantic part more so to woman.
Robyn, the heroine (and slave trade opponent) of the story, I was both in awe of and yet totally frustrated by. An obviously strong, feisty women, in many ways ahead of her time, 'the Cape wives were agog with the presence in their midst of the notorious Robyn Ballantyne who had impersonated a man and invaded, successfully, an exclusive masculine preserve', I was however totally dismayed by her swooning, 'Mills and Boonish', antics whenever in the presence of the dashing sea captain/slave trader Mungo St John.
Not always an easy read, the slavery aspect and the hunting of the elephants was quite graphic and, I thought, disturbing - the latter, drawn out and repetitive, bordering on being boring.
Engrossing and highly readable at times, at others it seemed over-long and drawn out, the characters, if not always likable than certainly believable, lacking in female characters, I personally would have preferred more of Robyn's story than her brothers or the other men who formed much of the book.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Ex-library stock, I won't be keeping this.