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Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana…

Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana (The Anglo-Zulu War Book 1)

by James Mace

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It is December 1878, and war looms on the horizon in South Africa. British High Commissioner Sir Henry Bartle-Frere seeks to dismantle the powerful neighbouring kingdom of the Zulus and uses an incursion along the disputed border as his justification for war. He issues an impossible ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, demanding he disband his armies and pay massive reparations. With a heavy heart, the king prepares his nation for war against their former allies. Leading the invasion is Lieutenant General Sir Frederic Thesiger, Baron Chelmsford, a highly experienced officer fresh off a decisive triumph over the neighbouring Xhosa tribes. He and Frere are convinced that a quick victory over the Zulus will negate any repercussions from the home government for launching what is, in essence, an illegal war.Recently arrived to South Africa are newly-recruited Privates Arthur Wilkinson and Richard Lowe; members of C Company, 1/24th Regiment of Foot under the venerable Captain Reginald Younghusband. Eager for adventure, they are prepared to do their duty both for the Empire and for their friends. As Frere's ultimatum expires, the army of British redcoats and allied African auxiliaries crosses the uMzinyathi River at Rorke's Drift into Zululand. Ten days later, the British and Zulus will meet their destiny at the base of a mountain called Isandlwana.… (more)



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Brutal Valour by James Mace follows several young soldiers from the 24th Regiment of Foot as their company undertakes an unsanctioned, illegal invasion into Zulu territory under the auspices of Sir Henry Bartle Frere.

This is a hefty book, coming in around 500 pages, and is full of rich, well-researched detail. Though a novel of fiction, the events described in Brutal Valour did happen. This isn't a war I was familiar with, and I found it quite fascinating (as well as irritating. Reading stuff from colonial times can do that to me. The unmitigated arrogance of trying to take over so-called 'less civilised’ countries because you want their resources, and thinking of these people as less. Just, no, son. Chill.)

Reading this inspired me to look further into this time and place in history. It's such a shame that, despite a victory at Isandlwana, the Zulu suffered such horrific losses, and this set into motion a domino effect that would lead to eventual defeat in the overall war. Mace has an engaging writing style that made for easy reading. Interspersed are photos, maps, and drawing that help put perspective and a sharper focus on the reality underlying the story.

Highly recommended if you enjoy historical fiction or military fiction, especially of this era.

***Many thanks to Silver Dagger Blog Tours and the author for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  PardaMustang | Feb 26, 2018 |
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