CALL OF THE RAVEN by Wilbur Smith


From the publisher:

‘The right of the cat over the mouse, of the strong over the weak. The natural law of existence.’ Augustus Mungo St John, A Falcon Flies

The son of a wealthy plantation owner and a doting mother, Augustus Mungo St John is accustomed to the wealth and luxuries his privilege has afforded him. That is until he returns from university to discover his family ruined, his inheritance stolen and his childhood sweetheart, Camilla, taken by the conniving Chester Marion. Fuelled by anger, and love, Mungo swears vengeance and devotes his life to saving Camilla – and destroying Chester.

Camilla, trapped in New Orleans and powerless to her position as a kept slave and Chester’s brutish behaviour, must learn to do whatever it takes to survive.

As Mungo battles his own fate and misfortune to achieve the revenge that drives him, and regain his power in the world, he must question what it takes for a man to survive when he has nothing, and what he is willing to do in order to get what he wants.

An action-packed and gripping adventure by bestselling author, Wilbur Smith, about one man’s quest for revenge, the brutality of slavery in America and the imbalance between humans that can drive – or defeat – us.

The author is a very well established South African born writer of tales of high adventure featuring leading protagonists of mighty heroes and dastardly villains. Each of these is portrayed as larger than life, in love with gorgeous women. The heroes usually get the girl and the villains their just desserts and we see great deeds done in righting all wrongs.

The current book utilizes a different slant on things. Mungo St. John is the son of wealthy plantation owners in the American south of the 1840s. Slavery has been used as sources of cheap labor since time immemorial and Mungo reaps the rewards of cheap labor when he goes off to attend university in England.

Called back from his studies, he returns home and finds that his parents have been killed and their plantation seized by the very evil Chester Marion. And to put a capstone on the evil done him, his childhood and adult love Camilla, who was actually a slave, has been taken by the brute. Mungo declares that he will find a way to destroy Chester Marion, take back what is his and kill the brute that has wronged him.

He gets work on a ship that is involved in the transport of slaves from Africa to Havana where they will be sent to buyers in the U.S. In most of Smith’s books Mungo would not get involved with the hideous crime of buying and selling human beings but in this novel he does in order to make the money needed to destroy Chester Martin.

In my opinion, Smith’s use of flawed characters makes “Call of the Raven” stand out as one of his top novels, and that is among the many excellent works that he has already had published. An excellent and exciting read and obviously one that will cause Wilbur Smith’s fan club to continue to grow.

9/2020 Paul Lane

CALL OF THE RAVEN by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (September 8, 2020). ISBN: 978-1499862294. 448p.


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