Friday, September 05, 2008

New novel about the Sudan War coming out

I don't like the new cover style. I preferred the older ones which featured Victorian paintings!

I enjoy John Wilcox' novels about the colonial period even if they are far from great literature (or even great historical novels) but they have certainly improved a lot since his first (really not bad anyway) novel The Horns of the Buffalo set in the Zulu war of 1879. The second (and much better) novel The Road to Kandahar took our hero, Simon Fonthill, to the North West Frontier. In the third book, The Diamond Frontier, he was participating in the bePedi war and then moved straight to the First Boer War for amother of the better books, Last Stand at Majuba Hill. During my holiday last month I read his most recent, The Guns of El Kebir which deals with the British invasion of Egypt in 1882, very much a precursor to the Sudan conflict and involving many of the same leaders (Wolseley and Graham) and units.

Now I notice that his next novel, due in January, will feature the Sudan War. Entitled The Siege of Khartoum it will take "Simon Fonthill, one time subaltern and ex-Captain in the North West Frontier's Royal Corps of Guides, together with 352 Jenkins, ex-batman and servantto Khartoum. They're on an urgent mission from Sir Garnet Wolseley to reach General Gordon, England's hero, who is being besieged by followers of Mahdi, the infamous religious leader who has declared a jihad against Egyptian authority in the Sudan. Their journey on camel-back through the Sudanese desert is treacherous. When they finally reach the General, an unexpected attack makes them realise that they have little time to make contact with Wolseley, who can dispatch troops to rescue General Gordon. As they leave in darkness to cross the Nile, they're set upon by a brutal Dervish patrol. Can Simon and Jenkins survive a Dervish interrogation and make it back to the General before Khartoum falls from British hands?"

I can't wait! There are very few novels about the first Sudan War (in fact I can only think of Wilbur Smith's The Triumph of the Sun) so this will be a very welcome addition. All of Wilcox's books are full of wargaming possibilities, whether big battles or skirmishes. It will be interesting to see if he covers any of the big battles, such as El Teb or Tamai as well (ideally another book covering the period up to Ginnis would be welcome!)

5 comments:

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Oh yes... very definitely on the list, and I must try the other Egypt one as well.... thanks for the heads up....

Giles said...

I haven't tried any of the Fonthill novels yet. Sounds like I should take a couple on my honeymoon next year, especially as I'll be in South Africa!

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Legatus - I'd be interested in your review of the new Asquith book on the Sudan (the scenario's one) - I'm intrigued by your comments re. uniform information being wrong?

legatushedlius said...

It's just that the uniform information is a bit sparse. For example it doesn't highlight the fact that the troops coming from India wore a very different khaki (what we would call khaki drill) than those coming from Egypt who wore the grey uniform. He doesn't mention the KRRC at all (who had dark green uniforms from most accounts). He also says that the Royal Artillery wore blue coats whereas they were probably in grey and he says the Royal Marines wore blue when they almost certainly were in the grey.

So on balance I'm inclined to ignore his uniform advice. Admittedly it is a thorny subject and there are still some disputes (the Perries put the KRRC in grey as well, for example) but I'm pretty certain he is wrong on the Marines..

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Legatus - thanks for that - I'll bear it in mind.....

B.t.w - on the subject of uniforms you may find this interesting? I certainly did....

http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?parent_id=1096619&word=