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Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana (The Anglo-Zulu War Book 1) by [Mace, James]
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Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana (The Anglo-Zulu War Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Length: 505 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

It is December 1878, and war looms on the horizon in South Africa. British High Commissioner Sir Henry Bartle-Frere seeks to dismantle the powerful neighbouring kingdom of the Zulus and uses an incursion along the disputed border as his justification for war. He issues an impossible ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, demanding he disband his armies and pay massive reparations. With a heavy heart, the king prepares his nation for war against their former allies.

Leading the invasion is Lieutenant General Sir Frederic Thesiger, Baron Chelmsford, a highly experienced officer fresh off a decisive triumph over the neighbouring Xhosa tribes. He and Frere are convinced that a quick victory over the Zulus will negate any repercussions from the home government for launching what is, in essence, an illegal war.

Recently arrived to South Africa are newly-recruited Privates Arthur Wilkinson and Richard Lowe; members of C Company, 1/24th Regiment of Foot under the venerable Captain Reginald Younghusband. Eager for adventure, they are prepared to do their duty both for the Empire and for their friends. As Frere’s ultimatum expires, the army of British redcoats and allied African auxiliaries crosses the uMzinyathi River at Rorke’s Drift into Zululand. Ten days later, the British and Zulus will meet their destiny at the base of a mountain called Isandlwana.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7001 KB
  • Print Length: 505 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 153098971X
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Legionary Books (1 August 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,974 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.6 out of 5 stars 34 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic Real-Life Adventure 9 October 2016
By Jack T - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a long book, 504 pages in paperback, and I found every word entertaining as well as informative. Mr. Mace, a life-long historian and author of seventeen books on various historical periods, gives us handful of characters to follow through the grand adventure, soldiers of the legendary 24th Regiment of Foot, on their way to South Africa where they will bear instrumental roles in High Commissioner Sir Henry Bartle Frere's illegal and unwanted (by the Crown) invasion of Zululand on a contrived pretext. I am assuming these are fictional characters, as I have not been able to locate them in the historical record, although that is probably the case with most privates.
Most Americans are familiar with the Battle of Isandlwana through the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn. There was also a NOVA documentary about the battle that tried hard to show the Zulu side, but no matter the focus, I have always been of the impression that the battle was a sudden affair with one of Lord Chelmsford's isolated columns caught in the open and wiped out by a vastly superior force. Mace has the advantage of writing almost 140 years after the events, and has done an incredibly thorough job of collecting and collating records, facts, and anecdotes from sources that have lain unmined for much of that time. The result is a fabulous adventure story that joins the young recruits of the 24th in England, and follows them to South Africa while simultaneously telling the story of Sir Henry's subterfuge, and Lord Chelmsford's arrogance and incompetence in splitting his already inferior forces in the face of an enemy known to be highly organized and well-led. His only fear that he expressed during the campaign was that the Zulus wouldn't fight. The detail presented in this story is enormous, and you never once feel as though you're reading a textbook. Every facet is presented, from the initial campaign that burns an isolated village, shifting Chelmsford's arrogance into high gear, to the morning of January 22nd, 1879, when the 1,500 British and colonial troops camped on the shoulders of the hill known as Isandlwana had their "What's that noise?" moment, as 35,000 blood-lusting Zulus who had been brilliantly maneuvered into position after decoying the bulk of Chelmsford's force away from the scene, crested a ridge a mile away and headed straight for them.
If you are curious about this British war that is largely unknown to the majority of Americans, if you love a rollicking good adventure story, if you are interested in colonial goings-on during the reign of Victoria, this book is for you. I can't wait for Book 2. I'll be right there to snap it up.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Zulu War novel. 9 December 2016
By Bob Jarvis - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did enjoy this book.The battle is well documented and this tale takes place very much according to history. The location, strategies & manouvres described are exactly as they took place at the time. What Mace does is breathe life into the combatants, both European & Zulu, giving the story a thrilling & immediate feel. No one knows what the deceased soldiers actual comments were but I found their given narrative both reasonable & believable. The ladies' early adventures just ended in the first half of the book. It might have been interesting to see some closure in their stories.
The movements during the battle are a little difficult to keep up with & I was happy that I knew the battle lay-out beforehand, it helped. Sadly in my Kindle version the maps shown were so small I couldn't make out anything.
What you do have here is a rousing, action packed story, extremely well described with characters that are very easy for the reader to become invested in. The author is also very non-judgemental in his Historical Notes at the end, spreading blame & glory in a very equitable manner. Smashing stuff! Well done Mr. Mace!
As a aside, I would recommend to anyone who has their interest provoked by reading Brutal Valour to read the non-fiction work The Washing of the Spears, by Desmond R Morris. It's not mentioned in the bibliography here, but it's a scholarly account of the whole of the Zulu War and thoroughly entertaining to boot.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a true and sad tale of politics and power, empire and arrogance. 6 March 2017
By Thomas Paine - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This battle has always been of great interest to me so I read whatever I can on the battle and, of course, watch both of the old films, Zulu (1964) and Zulu Dawn (1979), at least yearly (btw great films!). James Mace gives one a education on the battle while also being entertain by his delightful story. It's a true and sad tale of politics and power, empire and arrogance. And, what is more shameful is the cover up by Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Disraeli afterwards. It was a book that I didn't want to end and wanted to hear more and more details of the people involved. It leaves one with a bad taste for many who should have been recognized such as Capt. Younghusband were not while those that were, for example Coghill and Melvill, received much more than their due and those villains that should have been held responsible, namely Lord Chelmsford...well, nothing happened to him due to his position. It's an excellent read and even 100+ years later the questions and debates continue. You will definitely be entertained...and educated.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... finished the Kindle Edition and have to say I enjoyed the book immensely 17 September 2016
By Bruce Roeder - Published on
Verified Purchase
I just finished the Kindle Edition and have to say I enjoyed the book immensely. The Zulu War has been an interest of mine since the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn came out many moons ago. I've read The Washing of the Spears by Morris twice and Ian Knight's work with Ian Castle more than once because I war-game the period. I'm about to delve into Knight's epic Zulu Rising. Mace gives credit at the end of the book to those who helped him with research including Knight.

I mention all that because it's clear that Mace has done his homework. Time after time I was reminded of my previous research as Mace's character's personalize the happenings and incidents leading up and including the disaster at Isandlwana.

Obviously much of the dialogue is made up but I found quite believable and logical given whatever circumstance Mace was describing.

The book was a fun read but also a sobering read as he pitted Zulu Warrior against British Redcoat and one realizes that although the Zulu's won at Isandlwana they took horrendous casualties that meant doom for the Zulu nation.

I've read a couple of Mace's earlier works about the Roman soldier and enjoyed those as well. I think Mace continues to get better and better and I look forward to his sequel on Rorke's Drift.

A quick word on the politics of it all...IMO, the British picked an unnecessary fight issuing demands that could not be met unless the Zulu's literally gave up their independence. In this way it's reminesient of how WW1 started with Austria-Hungary making demands on Serbia that could not be met short of national surrender. Empire building has consequences. Having said all that wars are fought by soldiers\warriors who generally are more concerned with their units and friends in the unit than they are with the bigger picture.

This comes across in the book as the Zulu's react in defense of their homeland and muster their regiments to repel the British and wash their spears in Redcoat blood. For them it's a matter of pride in their warrior class and loyalty to their regiment (and king) that propels them into facing terrible volley fire.

The professional British Imperial Infantry (the Redcoats) are motivated by pride in their regiment and loyalty to Victoria. They know nothing regarding the politics (the Sr. Officers clearly do) and simply seek to do the job they have been trained to do To the end they uphold the proudest traditions of their regiment. Mace captures it all very well. Isandlwana was a soldiers\warriors fight and both sides did as was expected of them. In this way Mace's book serves as a fine tribute to brave soldiers\warriors.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 23 November 2016
By Neil - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a well told novel on the worst defeat suffered by the British in what became known as Queen Victoria's Little Wars. The reference historical work on the Zulu War of 1879 is Donald Morris's 'The Washing of the Spears' which reads like a novel in a lot of places. This novel puts you down on the ground with the historic figures as well as some fictionalized ones. It's extremely well done and true to the facts and tactics of the battle as well as the capabilities of the Martini-Henry rifle which at .455 caliber in the words of the field manual, "has been known to inflict horrible wounds." The Zulu side is also very convincingly portrayed along with their mostly unpronounceable names which I at least began to skip over. I've read all of this author's novels on the Roman Army which I likewise recommend. He says in the after word that there will be at least one more Zulu novel on the Defense of Rorke's Drift which I will buy.

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