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The Devil's Kingdom

by Scott Mariani

Series: Ben Hope (14)

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272664,633 (4.17)8
The adventure began in 'Star of Africa', now ex-SAS major Ben Hope is in the most desperate situation of his life. Held hostage by a despicable tyrant in the heart of Africa, it's not looking good for Ben. General Khosa's lust for blood is matched only by his lust for power - and he wants to use Ben's superior military skills to turn his rabble of inexperienced boys into an army of lethal soldiers. If Ben refuses, Khosa will kill the person he loves most. If he cooperates, he'll bring more death and devastation to the world's most violent, war-torn nation. Either way, Ben will have blood on his hands - unless he can defeat Khosa. It seems an impossible task. But for Ben Hope, anything is possible.… (more)

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We sometimes hear about genocide and tribal warfare in Africa, but seldom do we have it written about in such great and shocking detail. Most of this follow-up to "Star of Africa" is taken up with the ambitions of Jean-Pierre Khosa whom we first came across in that book. Some of the detail is quite hard to bear, revealing the suffering and cruelty that can take place.

Having said that, I have to say that Scott Mariani has produced another extremely lively, fast-moving Ben Hope episode, that also does a great deal to inform us of what can happen in our world, not just in Africa. Ben, Jeff Dekker, Tuesday Fletcher and Ben's son, Jude, all have their very important parts to play in dealing with what seems to be insurmountable odds. The plot doesn't just develop, it explodes onto the pages.

It is, perhaps, the darkest of the series so far, but it is an excellent read, one that reveals just how bad man's inhumanity to man can be, and provoking quite a bit of thought about the world in which we live. Not a comfortable read, but well worthwhile. ( )
  Alan1946 | Jul 18, 2018 |
As a Scott Mariani fan, I struggled to enjoy this book. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I enjoyed it the least of all his books I've read.

This one is the second part in a two-book story, started with The Star Of Africa. Now, whereas in most of Mariani's books (as with many others of course) there is a tried-and-true process of amping up the tension (bad stuff happens, bad guys seem to be winning, good guys suffer some setbacks) and then at some point we get a release of that tension (good guys prevail in the end, bad guys get what's coming to them.) However, in this two-book series, it seems that the amping-up of the tensions was twice as intense and went on for twice as long - leaving the reader (well, me at least) feeling well and truly ready for what felt like the long-overdue climax.

Don't get me wrong, it's not boring, and there is plenty of action and excitement, but the 'building of tension' phase just felt to be going on for too long.

This brings me to the 'releasing of tension' phase - where the good guys finally prevail. [minor spoilers from here] Mariani's usual style dictates a short but intense fight scene, in which the main antagonist is defeated and suffers some sort of satisfyingly brutal death. This story is a little different - no climactic fight, and no brutal death (or death at all.) While I applaud Mariani for trying to avoid being too formulated and predictable, this left me feeling a little unsatisfied with a somewhat anticlimactic ending. For 800-odd pages we are shown what a brutal, evil, cruel, despicable human being he is, all the while knowing he's going to cop it in the end, and then ultimately we're robbed of that satisfaction. ( )
  adam.currey | Mar 9, 2018 |
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The adventure began in 'Star of Africa', now ex-SAS major Ben Hope is in the most desperate situation of his life. Held hostage by a despicable tyrant in the heart of Africa, it's not looking good for Ben. General Khosa's lust for blood is matched only by his lust for power - and he wants to use Ben's superior military skills to turn his rabble of inexperienced boys into an army of lethal soldiers. If Ben refuses, Khosa will kill the person he loves most. If he cooperates, he'll bring more death and devastation to the world's most violent, war-torn nation. Either way, Ben will have blood on his hands - unless he can defeat Khosa. It seems an impossible task. But for Ben Hope, anything is possible.

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