23 Nov 2012



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.


Blond Duck said...

I've got some new Christmas books from the library, so I'll throw any good ones your way!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Sorry this one didn't meet your expectations.

Tracy said...

Eh it doesn't sound very appealing to me at all. Thanks for the review! Big hugs my friend!! :)

DMS said...

Great review- sounds like a mixed bag. This is one I hadn't heard of before.

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiners Book Blog) said...

Sounds like a real mixed bag, but I think I would like Robyn for the most part.

Alexia561 said...

Sorry this one wasn't a very good read for you. I don't think I would be able to get past the slave trading or hunting parts of the story, so don't think this one is for me. Hope your next read is more to your liking!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Well, since the characters didn't rock your world then I don't think I'll be able to handle the graphic elephant killing. I do think I'll pass on this one.

naida said...

It does sound like you've got mixed feelings on this one. Robyns swooning would annoy me also.

Suko said...

Thanks for your balanced review. I don't think I'd bear the hunting of the elephants very well.

The Golden Eagle said...

It's too bad when strong female characters turn into mush when there's a man in the room. It sounds like the book could have been tightened up a bit.

Thanks for the review!

fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I find that Wilbur Smith is a bit like Marmite, you either love his style of writing, or hate it, there really isn't any middle ground.

I gave his writing the benefit of the doubt the first time and read a second novel, but gave up on him after that. I can't even remember which books I read.

My father, on the hand, loves his style of writing and devours all his books, whenever either he, or I, come across one he hasn't read!

If you weren't intrigued enough to even consider searching out the remaining books in this series, then I guess that says it all ... and the books are so thick as well!

Hope that your next book is more to your liking and have a good weekend.


anilkurup said...

Wilbur Smith, I found his writing enjoyable, easy read, suspense and thrill.

The Golden Fox for instance , have read a few. And I do not remember the
name , but the one with a graphic description of elephant culling was chilling.The Courtney saga!

GMR said...

Definitely not my style, too bad it didn't turn out better for you though! Better luck next read.