bookspluslife

April 18, 2012

Book: Elephant Song by Wilbur Smith

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:20 am

Each author has a style, and eventually, you fall into the rhythm of the author. Wilbur Smith’s style is evident in this book, which has all the ingredients of his typical novels: Africa, violence, danger, animals as hunted and animals as hunters…

The story is simple enough: Daniel Armstrong, a man who loves Africa and makes wildlife films with passion and commitment, but who has moved to London after his wife’s death, goes back to Africa to make a film about the necessary killing – the culling of elephants when they are overpopulated. After meeting with his longtime friend and game warden of Zimbabwe’s Chiwewe National Park, Johnny Nzou, he takes his leave but circumstances force him to come back. He finds the whole family of Nzou wiped out by greedy ivory poachers, and suspects the duo of Ning Cheng Gong and Chetti Singh, an unscrupulous Indian merchant in Africa. Ning Cheng Gong is the representative of the Lucky Dragon, a Taiwanese company but also is an ambassador of Taiwan. They slip away and Daniel’s investigations land him into grave danger as he faces an angry leopard without weapons in a closed space…

Lucky to escape alive, he flees to England, but vows revenge for the crime committed. A formidable chance presents itself when a wealthy American (Sir Tug Harrison) asks him to make a film on the new dictator of Ubomo and his ‘progressive policies’, stating that he will meet his partner in Ubomo, a member of the business family that owns the Lucky Dragon…

The story is Wilbur Smith in every page, and you have the usual satisfying mixture of suspense and gore, and enough women falling for our intrepid hero. Betrayals, the interplay between Bonny Mahon, Daniel’s new cameraman come lover and Ibrahim Taffari, the new ruler of Ubomo are well told. When both Cheng and an earlier brutalized Chetti Singh meet Daniel in Ubomo, where the government itself offers full protection to them both in their efforts to openly kill Daniel, the story heats up, and does not let go till the end.

The description of Bambuti or the pygmies of Africa is interesting, Ubomo seems to be a thinly veiled reference to Rwanda and its ethnic tensions. (In the story Uhalis and Hitas are killing each other in ethnic purging pograms; Uhali are tall with sharper noses and lighter colours and are oppressed by Hitas…….)

The story is not exceptional, just typical and so, I will give this one a 6/10.
— Krishna

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