3 out of 4 stars
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The Warramunga’s War is an interesting and engaging historical fiction by Greg Kater.
It is July 1941. Lt. James Munro, together with Sgt. Jim Brennan, is sent ahead of the main Australian Force to reconnoiter enemy positions to coordinate artillery targets in Syria. He develops a strong bond of friendship with Cpl. Jack O’Brien, an educated, half-caste Warramunga aboriginal from Tennant Creek who comes to his rescue and saves his life.
When Jamie is conscripted in Cairo, Egypt to work with MI6 in counterespionage, Jamie takes Jacko with him. With the help of seemingly harmless and innocent local entertainers, the MI6 Team takes over an enemy transceiver and sends misleading messages using German codes. While they are preoccupied with classic books, code systems, and German spies, a serial killer is wreaking havoc leaving a trail of dead bodies.
After the war, Jamie and Jacko join the Commonwealth Investigation Service and are assigned to track down a pair of suspected German spies. The hunt takes them to Western Australia and even as far as Jacko’s beloved Tennant Creek.
Told in the third-person perspective, the book is an interesting historical fiction with thirty-eight chapters. Though the premise is quite common and ordinary, the plot is made much more interesting by including a touch of romance, murder, and other serious crimes. The plot is unpredictable enough to keep the readers’ interest until the final chapters. The author’s descriptions of Cairo and Western Australia, where most of the story took place, are done fairly well.
Despite the minimal backstories on the characters, I find them easily distinguished from one another, basically, through their manner of speaking. Though Jamie is the obvious choice for a favorite, I like Jacko more. He is kind, smart, and brave. He is also a crack shot and a great tracker. Though the ending is less conclusive than my usual preference, it is relatively satisfactory.
Apparently, I enjoyed this book a lot. The part I like most is the display of the Warramunga’s skills, as marksmen and trackers, and special ritual, the corroboree. It gives the readers a glimpse of the life of this aboriginal tribe.
However, other readers may find the title a bit misleading. I, for one, expected a quite different story. I have read a few war novels which involve a lot of shooting, killing, dismemberment, soldiers and warriors torn into pieces, and even PTSD. This book, however, is a far cry from what I had in my mind. First, war is just the backdrop of the story and not what the story is about. Second, the title seems to imply that the Warramunga is at war against something or someone, which in this book is not the case.
Moreover, I would have appreciated it very much if the author included an example of the codes that the MI6 team sent to confuse the Germans. Furthermore, an entire chapter, even a short one, about the Warramunga tribe including a brief history, topography, culture, and belief system would have made the book even more interesting. Finally, there are noticeable errors within the entire book which are, thankfully, few.
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is interesting and engaging. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction.
The Warramunga's War
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