4 out of 4 stars
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The author of 'The Warramunga's War' Greg Kater, immediately grabs the reader's attention, dumping him in the middle of a sharp military encounter in Syria. The first character here is Jamie, struggling to stay alive while pinned down by a machine-gunner. All seems lost till Jacko, the second main character appears like a ghost out of nowhere and to Jamie, with an unorthodox kind of marksmanship, saves the day. Jacko is an easy-going and rather funny fellow which endears him to both Jamie and to the reader. This iis a well written and well told story and without any qualms i would rank it with the very best of war-time novels.
In synopsis, the novel is based on the Second World War, with fictional characters, Jamie and Jacko. They are both in the Australian military forces fighting against the Vichy French forces in Syria. Following an artillery shelling, Jamie finds himself once again in difficulty and it takes Jacko's intervention to save him. From then on, the two become friends and spend the rest of their exploits together. Jamie is recruited by the British Intelligence, MI.6, asking for Jacko to also be included. The two work out of Cairo, creating their network of agents to spy on the Germans. After a successful and eventful time in Egypt, the Australians return to their own country to work for the newly formed Commonwealth Investigation Service (C.I.S). Together Jamie and Jacko excel in the brilliant work, arresting several outlaws including one former MI.6 agent they had worked closely with who later turned out to be a serial rapist and murderer. The novel ends with Jamie attending a spectacular Warramunga corroboree as he had been invited to, by Jacko at the start of the novel.
'The Warramunga's War' has won my admiration for several reasons. The novel falls in the Historical Fiction genre which for a start, changes the drab history of the past into a lively and dynamic story. The past events form the skeleton of the story while the characters fill out the story with colorful narratives of their activities. This appeals to both the scholarly readers and those not so well versed in the History of the World War. This genre offers an opportunity to educate while entertaining at the same time. There is a lot to learn about the war, how intelligence services work, the different places such as Egypt and Australia being among the few things one discovers.
Another reason for liking this novel is the author's use of description. Through very clear descriptions the writer paints a picture of the scenery such as the River Nile and its House-boats, the smells in the streets of Cairo, the beautiful women and their colorful clothes, among many more. By reading, one experiences the life in Egypt- the parties and dances that are a part of the backdrop of the story. The Northern territories of Australia come alive with the heat and dust, emerging like a physical force in the face of the reader. And when the corroboree dance takes place, it becomes truly a spectacular, fireworks filled event of note.
The characters Greg employs, Jamie and Jacko, are an endearing couple who invite the reader to root for them in their activities. The ladies they recruit to work for them like Fifi and Yasmina, too are adorable and getting to know them makes the reading a treat. In all the characters, Matt MacAulay is the only fellow who really stands out as a beast.
Finally, the most captivating style used in the novel by the writer is its subtle nature. This is the least apparent style but considering the subject matter of the novel- War and Intelligence, the amount of 'blood and gore' is minimal. The writer is not out to terrify or stun the reader with a lot of violence, yet is able to maintain a level of suspense and dread effortlessly. In addition, the writer examines the issue of race and color, another touchy subject. Jamie is a white Australian and an officer while Jacko is an Aborigine and a non-commissioned officer. There is not a hint of condescending behavior from the superior to his junior. Even when it comes to dealing with the Egyptian women, Greg dwells on their good nature and beauty and not tribe or religion. Dealing with all these tough subjects, Greg's story-telling skills allow the tale to be told using moderate language that would be appealing to male and female readers without discriminating anyone with bias and prejudice.
In my opinion, this is a great novel, well written and well told. The literary techniques employed serve the book well and even the editing is superb. The only error of note was once or twice the use of a comma followed by 'and'. I rate this novel as 4 out of 4 stars and I feel it would appeal to a wide range of audience. Both men and women of all ages would find the novel interesting, funny and educative while having a good time enjoying reading it.
The Warramunga's War
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