BLUNTED LANCE by Max Hennessy
Kirkus Star


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Hennessy's British-cavalry books are even faster-moving than his fine Lion at Sea naval trilogy; and this second installment (first was Soldier of the Queen, 1980) takes Colby Goff of the 19th Lancers--who rode with Jeb Stuart in the US Civil War--from the 19th-century Mahdi campaign up through the turn-of-the-century Boer War and right into the Great War itself. So there's a bloody opening battle in Egypt, with disemboweled horses and slashing spearmen--as Colby fights alongside his favorite son Dabney. Then on to the Boers in South Africa, where Colby is now a general who's advising Kitchener and trying to lead the revamped cavalry into its first victory against the guerrilla farmers. The younger generation appears here too: both Dabney (now promised to childhood sweetheart Fleur) and Colby's un-favorite son Robert--a dapper, cowardly rotter who leads a ludicrously ill-timed charge into a Boer trap. (This disaster will eventually persuade Robert to leave the army, marry for money, and become an armaments manufacturer.) And the final WW I section finds military-expert Colby now knighted but unable to save the British from tragic stalemates on the muddy fields of France . . . while Dabney, now a general, dies. Colby dies too--from heartbreak over Dabney's death--but Dabney's son Joshua survives and will clearly take on World War II in the next volume. So this is a strong blend of battlefield action and family-saga warmth (there are also Colby's two daughters, one of whom weds a German, with tragic WW I results); and Hennessy's swift, pointed storytelling, with valor shaded by horror, may well gather in a broader audience than did his seagoing yarns.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum