My 200th posted review for 2015!
In this, the concluding novel in the Sean Courtney collection, Smith moves the powerful man aside and offers the reader a new focus in the young Mark Anders. Serving under Courtney in the Great War, Anders survives in the trenches and returns to his family homestead, which has been confiscated and his grandfather murdered. Learning of the gang behind the acts, Anders discovers that his former General’s own son, Dirk Courtney, is the mastermind. Using this as a pretence for revenge, Anders begins working for General Sean Courtney, first as his assistant and eventually in a position of political patronage as game warden. At this time, Anders falls in love with the General’s daughter, Storm, who has grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth and cannot imagine life with such a commoner. As Smith builds the novel’s narrative, South Africa comes of age under the Smuts Government, where it begins to bulge at the seams after a surge of socialist upheaval. To quell the workers and the early germination of race clashes, government troops push back the protest, which only delays further action. Anders finds himself in the middle of this and other key aspects of South African independence as he tries to find his way. With the chance to eventually face his nemesis, Anders learns of the lengths to which Dirk Courtney will go to get his way, allowing no one to cross him. As Smith brings the Sean Courtney story to a conclusion, he has only just begun laying the groundwork for the explosive second collection of Courtney novels, in which future generations will surely see the country become cesspool of racism on the African continent. A must-read novel and series by any curious reader.
Over this short three-novel series, Smith has created the foundation for a wonderful series that places South Africa at its centre. Written with the mysteries of the continent in mind, Smith is able to use a core group of characters to live within history and yet forge their own lives and weave highly intriguing tales. His storytelling is second to none and the drama that Smith instills keeps the reader begging for more. Looking only at the first collection, if I were to offer a criticism, it would be that the time period between the books is large and brief narration to weave together the happenings from one book to the other does not adequately suffice. Readers like myself might enjoy additional novels in the series to flesh out the character arcs summarising their lives from one novel to the next, which are handled in a brief paragraph in Smith’s narrative. A detailed construction could make for new and exciting storylines, if done properly. Smith has me thoroughly hooked and wondering what will come next in the second collection, a multi-generational addition to the Courtney series.
Kudos, Mr. Smith for the foundational work on this wonderful series. Your climactic ending has me wondering what other twists you have in store. However, it is time to diverge and explore the Ballantyne family to see how they differ or intersect the Courtneys, before returning for another round of South Africa’s development.