From the publisher:
In 1899, Fritz Duquesne, an aristocratic South African, is sent to England for his formal education. During his time there, tensions rise between the British and his homeland as the age of African colonialism peaks. A boiling point is reached between Fritz and his adopted brethren when he is sent back home–this time as a commissioned British army officer.
Simultaneously, the screams for freedom are still being heard just on the other side of the Irish Sea. There John MacBride does anything to join the revolutionary Irish Brotherhood and end the British occupation of his island once and for all. With funding running low for their cause, MacBride is forced to seek financial backing from overseas. This leads him to South Africa where the recent discovery of gold has drawn the attention of everyone looking to exploit the newfound riches, including the ever-hungry British Empire.
This is the author’s first published book and a highly successful one in presenting the world of the late 1800s to early 1900s in England and South Africa. The lead protagonist, Fritz Duquesne, was a man that actually lived during that period and is thought to have interacted with many of the key figures portrayed in the book.
Fritz is an individual born into a high-level family with his father and uncle holding leadership positions in the emerging government of South Africa. He is sent to England by his father as he comes of age and enrolled in Oxford University where he is to complete a liberal arts education to properly fit him for a leadership role in the land of his birth. By chance, Fritz meets another young man on his arrival in England, of noble birth, and also destined to attend Oxford University. The two become great friends with Fritz being invited to Jack’s home many times, meeting his parents and his sister. The sister develops a love for Fritz and his father considers him a second son, and an eventual husband for his daughter.
Jack’s father, a lord of the realm, is a man that is involved at high levels in the policy making of the British government. He is in favor of sending troops to South Africa to militarily annex the country and begins to think of Fritz as assuming an important position in the government that will be set up. To bolster his plan he arranges for both his son Jack and Fritz to be enrolled in the British military academy, earning commissions and be available to help set policy based on England’s directives for the area.
Blasco also portrays a second group of foreign colonists for high level interaction in South Africa. These are men and women from Ireland fleeing a land with limited opportunity due to adverse economic conditions, and taking an active part in events in Africa. John MacBride was forced to flee Ireland after he became involved with an assassination attempt there. He realizes the need to finance any revolutionary movement and ends up in the gold fields of Africa as a means of obtaining funds to help the revolutionary movement in Ireland.
The novel culminates in the conflict known as the Boer War, in which the residents of South Africa fight a guerilla action against what was a highly mechanized and disciplined army protecting an empire upon which the sun never sets. Sir Herbert Kitchener is second in command of the British army involved in the fighting. He has attained fame and fast promotion mainly due to his conquest of the Sudan for England and the author depicts him as a martinet with little people skills but a natural soldier quite at home in commanding men involved in battle. A possible tie in which is not brought out in the book is the sinking of a ship Kitchener was on going to attend a meeting in Russia during the first world war. Kitchener was killed and of the many rumors involved in his death was the mention, in real life, of Fritz Duquesne’s name as fomenting the assassination.
The novel is easily an all-nighter, with the reader brought headlong into a tumultuous period in world events. I would certainly be first on line to pick up succeeding books by Blasco, enjoying the work of a fast-emerging author at the top of his game.
11/2020 Paul Lane
KILL KITCHENER by Andrew Joseph Blasco. Hansen Publishing Group, LLC (October 1, 2020). ISBN: 978-1601822680. 356 pages.