4 out of 4 stars
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The Warramunga’s War by Greg Kater, the first book of the Warramunga Trilogy, is a cross between an espionage thriller and a historical fiction. With a smoothly flowing storyline, consistent pace, likable characters, and vivid imagery, this book is a real treat for all bibliophiles.
The story describes to some extent the culture, customs, and extraordinary tracking and fighting skills of the Warramunga, indigenous Australians inhabiting the Northern Territories. After the Syrian war, Captain James Munro and Sergeant Jack O’Brien are transferred to an intelligence service division in Cairo. With the help of Captain Johnny Cook and some local prostitutes and belly-dancers, they successfully capture many German spies and thwart an outside attack on Cairo by intercepting some secret messages. After returning to Australia, they continue to pursue two German spies across the Warramunga territory. This leads to a series of unexpected situations culminating in a thrilling climax.
The best thing about the book was its beautiful imagery. Not all authors can paint pictures with words, but Kater did just that. The vivid descriptions take us straight to the hot and sultry Cairo, among the busy life at the banks of the river Nile. From there we visit the Australian creeks, the gold mines, and the limestone caves. I could visualize everything in my mind’s eye, from the dusty uphill roads to the coral caves to the band of kangaroos leaping away on the grassy plains. I felt as if I myself was traveling across the world with Jamie and Jacko.
According to the foreword, the book is based on the real-life experiences of the author and his father. This fact, coupled with the rigorous research done on his part, makes the accounts absolutely realistic. Kater shows how the gold prospecting around Warramunga lands affected their livelihood, a fact that has an actual historical basis. This perfect blend between fiction and history, as well as that between romance and adventure, was marvelous.
The characters are simple and likable. Both Jamie and Jacko are righteous, honest and brave, with an element of innocence inherent in them. The female characters playing dominant roles in the story were portrayed as resourceful and strong. However, character development was not a strong point in the book.
Although the contents were serious, the author added humor in places to give the novel a different flavor. For example, when one character describes how her family was abducted by the Nazis, Johnny Cook remarks:
Another two unique things about the book were the inclusion of Jamie’s song (written by Kater himself) complete with notations and use of Warramunga language by Sarah, Jacko’s half-sister.“Ah yes, Hitler has an unfortunate habit of arresting Jews,”
I did not find anything negative to say apart from two points. First of all, the dialogue sounded a little superficial. The characters were always too polite, even formal in their conversation. Secondly, the chase Jamie and Jacko gave the German spies towards the end soon became tedious. For one thing, they moved through so many places that it was almost impossible to keep track. Also, even though the gang was always one step ahead of them, they seemed to be in no hurry to catch them. Whether they ate overdone sirloin or medium rare prime rib along the way seemed quite unimportant to me. However, considering the vast coverage of the book and the myriad of characters, the author did a very diligent job of tying up all the loose ends.
From a technical standpoint, the book seemed professionally edited, containing only one misprinted word. I would rate this book a full 4 out of 4 stars. With elements of history, travel, war, romance and thrill, this book will undoubtedly appeal to a broad range of readers. Apart from a few murder scenes, there is no violent content in the book. This was easily one of the best books I have read till date. I hope the next books in the series will be just as excellent as this one, if not more.
The Warramunga's War
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