Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Discussion about Wilbur Smith's Ballantyne series

Rate "A Falcon Flies"

5 - Brilliant
11
44%
4
9
36%
3
5
20%
2
0
No votes
1 - pathetic attempt at literature
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 25

Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby Nefer » Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:00 pm

One of WS's best, IMO. The first page just shot out and gripped me and the book just never slows down - it's almost like A Time to Die in terms of writing technique.

Mungo St. John is one of those brilliantly crafted characters - I'm never sure if I like him or want to shoot him!

And I really like the way WS builds on Zimbabwe's history.
Last edited by Nefer on Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Bee » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:19 am

I have to agree with Nefer. I really enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end. And in my opinion Men of Men just didn't seem to live up to its predecessor.
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby Kate4Tanus » Thu Apr 27, 2006 3:08 am

Nefer wrote:Mungo St. John is one of those brilliantly crafted characters - I'm never sure if I like him or want to shoot him!


Oh my god! It was exactly the same for me!
'You were ever more than a tutor to me,' Memnon answered softly. 'You where the father I never knew.'
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Postby Nefer » Fri Jun 02, 2006 2:56 pm

I've decided to re-read all the Smiths on my shelf, and I'm starting with the Ballantynes.

I'll try & do a reader diary, but a non-spoiler review is my main goal right now.

Is anyone else reading this book right now? Because it would be fun to do a read-through & discuss the book together :)
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Non Spoiler Review

Postby Nefer » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:14 pm

So here it is! It took me a while to get through the book - not because it's a terrible book but because several authors whom I also read had release dates right when I was in the middle of this book!

"A Falcon Flies" has always been one of my favourite books, because it describes in such loving detail the discovery of a 'new land' through the eyes of two very different people.

Not only does Wilbur Smith describe Zimbabwe to his readers, he also provides a history of the land and the varied tribes that people it. He weaves the smallest historical detail into the cloth of his story, giving depth to every character.

True to form, Wilbur Smith doesn't shy away from apparently controversial topics. I say apparently because he does an excellent job of painting a picture of what life may have been like, for the chiefs who ruled the land the missionaries, merchants and hunters who roamed it. Far from being a biased writer recalling the glory days of the British Empire, Wilbur Smith describes to his readers the process of colonisation - the hows, wheres and whys, and he does so by telling us both sides of a fictionalised story.

I rated it 5/5 and highly recommend it!
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Postby John R » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:36 am

Nice review nefer. You got me quite excited about the Ballantynes now. I like the sound of this one. I'm tempted to start it but i'm still in the middle of the Courtney's.
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Postby Wouter » Sun Aug 06, 2006 3:02 pm

Bee wrote:I have to agree with Nefer. I really enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end. And in my opinion Men of Men just didn't seem to live up to its predecessor.


Hm, I disagree with you on that one. I think that 'Men of Men' is better than the first Ballantyne novel. I just finished reading 'Men of Men' and I can't wait to start reading the third one
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Postby Phils_jd » Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:50 pm

I like Men of Men and A Falcon Flies. The 3rd one The Angles Weep, not really one of his better ones - I think
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Postby Bee » Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:47 am

I've only read the first two. Haven't purchased the 3rd one yet, but may have to do a re-read when I do.
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Postby John R » Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:46 am

Last night i started on the Ballantynes again. :D (So it could be diary time again, aint done one in ages) Picked up Falcon flies, went from the beginning (even though i got to page 150 last time) and i am gripped. Was gonna have an early night last night but ended up awake til about 1 in the morning. So far Smith's love of Africa has struck me more so in this book than the Courtney's. Robyn is really in love with Africa, and the description of her feelings as she is getting closer to the cape is powerful. The sense of anticipation is contagious. I'm trying to remember why i started but did not finish this book last time around? Anyway, so far i've got to the point where[spoiler]Robyn's mixed feelings of sexual desire and of hatred for St John have been made clear, Captain 'fanatic' Codrington has been introduced and instantly there is a hatred between him and Mungo. Robyn found out that Mungo does indeed deal in the slave trade, and got a lucky escape with Tippoo. So far it kind of makes me wish i was in that period of time, on that very boat - on my way to Africa! There is somthing similar so far between this and the Sea Courtney's. Monsoon inparticular. I'm looking forward to the possibility of Fuller being introduced into the story as well. As for Zounga, i'm not yet sure what to make of him.[/spoiler]
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Postby Bee » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:59 pm

John... I really hope you make a diary of A falcon flies! It would be really neat to see your progress through the book! :)
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Postby John R » Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:22 am

I'll try my best! I've read a bit more but not as much as i would have liked - i left the book in work so i can't read it this weekend! :(


[spoiler]I'm at the point where Mungo and Codrington have just had their big poker show-down (which was miles better than anything James Bond offers!) What a brilliant scene that was though, i was completely gripped. You really feel the intensity and hostility between the two men. I'd put that scene down as one of Smith's best. And the way Cod fools Mungo and beats him, and then goes after him with a bit of verbal!
I think Wilbur has created a really strong character in Mungo St John. The guy has it all. Wealth, power, popularity, the looks, the intelligence. And so far i'd put him down as the main character of the book. I know its early days yet and its a Ballantyne book, but up to this point, its been all him. ( Although I was still a little surprised that Robyn fell into his trap)
Codrington is an interesting character too. Intense, fanatical, deeply religious. He has no fear.
Another part that really gripped me was Zounga and the old man, Harkness. Sharing all his experiences. All the things he must have seen.
I hope the book can continue in this vain because at the moment i'm really impressed.[/spoiler]
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Postby John R » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:16 am

[spoiler]Managed to read a bit more. The Ballantyne expedition carries on towards East Africa via the Mozambique channel. Zouga has choosen some hottentot companions, a constant feature in a Wilbur Smith novel! These guys nearly always get introduced. They have a weakness for alcohol and cheap women as Zouga found out! Codrington met with Mungo for a duel, pistols at dawn! I was not surprised to see that Mungo came out on top. In this scene i see one of Wilbur's greatest strengths as a writer. His ability to make his characters seem so human, so real. Simple things like when Robyn see's Codrington hours before the duel and realises that he has slept as little as she had. And then on the beach, she see's damp sweat marks under his arm pits even though its chilli in the dawn. His nerves and fears are shown so clearly, making him seem so human.

Clinton has healed very quickly though. A sign of the mans resolve. I've ended on a bit of a cliff hanger, Robyn it would appear, is pregnant with St John's child. This was a great twist in the tale! Since Codrington and Robyn have been getting very close, and i know what's about to happen, he will ask to to be his wife. At the moment its hard to put this book down, sleep and work arer getting in the way....well, and the internet! :) [/spoiler]
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Postby John R » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:19 am

I'm being extremely slow at the moment, i've only read about 30 pages since i last posted. [spoiler]Codrington asked Robyn to be his wife, she said no, I wasn't surprised by her decision. I think she is just attracted to Mungo too much. She also is baring his child. They came across a slaver and managed to rescue a few but only Juba survived, the young girl. Not sure what this girl brings to the story or how big a role she will end up playing. Zouga and Robyn finally made it to their destination and will begin the Ballantyne experdition along with all their little hottentots! At this rate i should have the Ballantyne series completed by 2010!![/spoiler]
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Postby John R » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:51 pm

Picked the book up for the 1st time in a week! Just not been in that mood. Got quite a bit done though as i'm off work, got the chicken pox! :( nasty i can tell you!
Anyway [spoiler]Codrington has gone on a personal crusade! He seems to have lost it completely and is signing treaties here there and everywhere! (Creating quite a reputation in the process.) It has made me like him, as i was undecided before. "El Sheetan" they call him. He has the devil's eyes, and the determination to match! Clinton met the British council in Zanzibar, a man named Sir John Bannermann, and together they met with the Sultan and amazingly signed a treaty to put an end to Slave trading in this part of the world. Quite an achievment, all down to Codrington.

Meanwhile the Ballantyne expedition is well under way. Zouga has collected himself quite a nasty piece in Portugese cross breed Camacho Periera. This beast tries to rape Robyn and constantly attempts to distract Zouga from the route he wants to take. Camacho attempts to keep them away from the South. Zouga has none of it and he and Camacho fight. Zouga wins, along with that he gains the respect of his party who then name him Bakela. I thought it was a great fight but a bit stupid that Zouga let him go without killing him, (A brilliant metephor from Sgt Cheroot "Big mistake. Always stamp on the scorpion before he stings") and the return of Camacho looking for revenge was all to obvious. Camacho is a strange character, very sexualy charged! Smith consistantly brings this up with Camacho, in detail, and there was also a scene where he masterbates. I don't recall ever reading a Wilbur character doing that apart from Garrick Courtney in the 1st few pages of When The Lion Feeds. But he was just a teenager then, not a fully grown man like Camacho.

The story is flowing nicely, Wilbur keeps up his beautiful, vivid descriptions of Africa, which i just love. While i'm plodding along slowly i'm very much enjoying this book.[/spoiler]
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Postby Penitent » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:53 pm

I'm half way myself. Going very slow because of work. So, John, I,m staying away from the spoiler info. So far I'm loving it...
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Postby John R » Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:24 pm

lol yes good idea, i'm giving everything away in my spoilers so be carful. It's a great book i agree! :)
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Postby John R » Mon May 21, 2007 11:28 am

Been slacking! didn't even pick the book up for almost 2 weeks. Nearing the end now though, the final stretch [spoiler]Robyn has gone off alone to the east coast, Zouga has found the lost city but now has Malaria fever. I was gripped when they finally found Fuller. This book has had some strange moments though, such as the almost science-fictional scene with the Witch lady or whatever she was suppose to be. It's enjoyable but so far i don't rate it like i do the Courtney's. Maybe i'm just not in one of my reading modes at the moment though, and i was when i picked up the Courtney's? Not sure.
Anyway, still waiting for the return of Codrington and Mungo into the story, it seems forever that Wilbur has stuck with the brother and sister, but i suppose it IS a Ballantyne novel![/spoiler]
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Postby Matbow » Thu May 24, 2007 6:02 pm

John R wrote:It's enjoyable but so far i don't rate it like i do the Courtney's.


I agree John, when I initially started the Ballantynes I wasn't as impressed. I think once you immerse yourself into the series it does become better, from what I remember most of the main characters appears in each of the first 3 Ballantynes so you can get a bit more "attached" to the characters than you do with the Courtneys.
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Postby John R » Fri May 25, 2007 4:01 am

Good, thats what i was hoping for! i like characters who go from book to book so, as you said, you can get attached to them.
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