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

Postby Penitent » Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:37 pm

I finally finished “A Falcon Flies”, it took a while since I have been slacking a lot on reading over the past month or so…

Anyway, I tried to stay away from this thread and from John’s spoilers! I will read them all now though!

I loved the characterization as usual, especially Mungo St. John and Clinton Codrington; my two favorite characters of the whole novel.

I loved the beginning and the end of the novel, I found the middle a little dry and slow. As usual Wilbur’s prose takes you to the center of the action; I found the descriptions of the slavery conditions and trade particularly chilling; but no doubt accurate. “Men of Men” is already waiting in my nightstand and I can’t wait to continue with the saga. Maybe it will end up being as good as the Courtneys…
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Postby John R » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:53 am

good to read your thoughts penitent. As with you, i also find Mungo and Codrington my favourite characters of the book, and also the middle bit was indeed slow. [spoiler]I really struggled through that until Robyn was captured by the portugese and Mungo saves her, things really took off again then, no coincidence that St John was back. Now the book has picked up again, the race is on, Codrington is chasing Mungo, and it should lead to a scintilating![/spoiler]
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Postby Penitent » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:41 pm

I have the same feeling with many of Wilbur’s books; the beginning hooks you, the middle is usually slow and at the end some of the characters that have been missing for hundreds of pages come back and everything picks up again.



.[spoiler]
Everything builds up nicely towards finding Fuller Ballantyne and when they do I couldn’t care less. Actually his demise was totally anticlimactic for me; looks like all that part is like an intermission and then the story continues once that Mungo and Clinton reappear.

Keep reading John, the confrontation between Codrington and Mungo is coming! This should not be a spoiler; you should see it coming since they both first meet[/spoiler]
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Postby Nefer » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:46 pm

Here's a question for you both: What do you think of Wilbur's commentary on human behavior, with respects to all the characters? These books are my favourite because they are so raw and emotional.
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Postby Penitent » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:17 am

Good question, Nefer

I always said that one of Wilbur’s trademarks is characterization, it is also one of the feats that makes him the great writer he is. One of the joys of reading his novels is, at least for me; to witness how his characters evolve and behave in different situations. We are not black or white our emotions and behaviors are thousands of shades of grey. Wilbur makes this very apparent when dealing with emotions like greed or lust; almost always present in the books.

Most of his characters villains or not are flawed; like we all are. I also think that’s why we care about them so much while we read.

One example in “A Falcon Flies” is

[spoiler]The good doctor Ballantyne falling twice for Mungo St John somebody she despises [/spoiler]
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Postby John R » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:02 pm

Agree with that! It is Wilbur's major strength in my opinion, along with his ability to bring Africa to life. A nice question nefer. Characters for A Falcon Flies...

[spoiler]
Robyn:- stuborn, brave and so very moral and abiding, so fresh and naive. Thus completely exploited by...

Mungo:-
who is a natural chauvinist it would appear, but at times he really does feel something for Robyn, why else would he have saved her from the portugese. He is the exact opposite to her, he's experienced, seemingly invincible at times, even when the portugese cuts him, you can't quite believe it. He's a complete mercenary. And ofcourse his looks play a big part.

Captain Codrington he is like the ice man at times, he doesn't fear anyone, never shows his nerves in the face of adversity, only when it comes to Robyn does he become shy and timid. Like her he is completely moral but nowhere near as weak to temptation. He told her he would wait 50 years if need be! His crusade on slavery is fanatical and relentless.

I can see nefer your point about the characters in this book/series being so raw and emotional.

Zouga he is the character that confuses me the most at the moment. to the point where i can't really think of much to describe him. One thing that i have noticed though, is that for a Wilbur character, he is strangely devoid of a sexual nature. If that makes sense! lol what i mean is, he doesn't seem to think about women at all, just his ivory and gold and fame. So i suppose that would make him greedy and superficial, but yet he doesn't come across as that. He is a strange one!
[/spoiler]
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Postby Nefer » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:08 pm

Great insights, thanks guys :) Especially about Robyn, as most of WS female characters are strong personalities. Robyn is portrayed as a strong person, but her character is the most deeply flawed one.

And Zouga! Yes, you hit right on it! Why is he so a-sexual, especially for a WS character? Sean C. Jnr is as strong with similar motives, but sex rules his life! I really like Zouga, which is so weird, because you're right, so far he is a superficial bastard. Let me know if you change your mind about him as the series continues.
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Postby delby » Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:34 am

Re John R spoiler

I know what you mean that got me too


dont worry about that yet if your only on falcon he comes into his own later
WILLIE SMITH IS KING
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Postby Bee » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:53 am

Great character sketches John R (if that's what it's called)!
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Postby John R » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:04 pm

thanks guys. Well i finshed the book....finally! god knows how long that took me, but it was a brilliant ending. Really gripping, just a shame about the middle part of the book. Overall i'd have to give this one a 7 out of 10. A great base for Men of Men to go from.
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A Falcon Flies comments.

Postby skipbrad » Thu Aug 23, 2007 7:41 pm

I just finished A Falcon Flies and I think John R. is right on with his "characterizations" of the characters! Robyn means well but messes things up despite herself. I can't believe Zouga does not chase women, but I like him otherwise. He has a business mind and ambition, is a skilled tactician and fighter. He is brave and well-experienced. Mungo St. John is like so many men down through history and now. I like Jan Cheroot, comic relief when needed! I thought the part about Fuller was so worthless and a waste of time, but maybe now we know where Robyn's weaknesses come from. The part about the Great Chief's legend and Zouga's attempts to strike a deal with him are so typical of business stories I hear even now from Africa and elsewhere. As always, I am constantly learning about fascinating new animals in Wilbur's books. Overall, I was very impressed with this great story! I had to keep referring to my World Atlas south Africa pages to place everything in my mind. Lots of rivers and varied topography, would love to go there.
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby Torre » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:13 am

Having just finished the book a couple of weeks ago I'd dare to say this wasn't the finest WS novel out there. I'm probably not the only one who was a bit sceptical about the whole Ballantyne series after finishing all the Courtneys, but I don't think that affected on my final opinion.

(spoiler)
Spoiler:
As quite a few have pointed out, I too found the beginning and the ending to be magnificent! In fact everything in the book apart from the actual expedition was just great. Somehow the "finding of Fuller"-scene felt pointless even. And yes I know, it might be blasphemous to say on a WS board that the elephant hunt scenes were a bit boring. I mean, they were okay and all, but I've just read eight WS novels in a row and the scenes never change that much. And in my opinion WS has written better depictions of the event.

But the characters, they were golden. Zouga not that much, but a couple of hundred pages into Men of Men has already "brought him to life". Robyn I found to be extremely annoying at times with her stubborness, which Always lead her into trouble. Had Zouga had the edge he's found in his later years, he would've put her on her place. :)
Jan Cheroot I liked very much! But that always seems to be the case with the "sidekicks" WS creates. Aboli, Mbejane and the best of all, "The silly little bugger", Matatu.

Even though this is a Ballantyne novel, I personally considered Clinton and Mungo as the main characters. And the absolute high points of the book were whenever these two went at it; in the poker table, the duel and the sea battle, as well as the numerous verbal confrontations.

(/spoiler)

In comparison to other WS novels I'd rate this 7/10. But an enjoyable read it is and it managed to clear any scepticism towards the Ballantynes!
Last edited by Nefer on Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited to add spoiler function
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby Nefer » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:57 am

Hi & welcome to the Board Torre!

I had completely forgotten about the scenes you metioned with Clinton & Mungo - must do a re-read of the series!

Although I disagree with you about Robyn - her character is what drives a lot of the plot, and there is a lot of torrment that she goes through because of her decisions. Fits with the times WS was writing about.

Spoiler:
Actually, many women pick the perceived safer guy to marry - so it made total sense that she picked Clinton, but who knows, Mungo might've been the better choice in the long run. Then again, maybr not, as we see when he turns up with his 'wife' later in the story. :eek:
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby highlander999 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:07 pm

Well, starting the Ballentine Series, and Mungo St. John is the all out hero of the book.

I don't like him being a Slaver, but he's the only honest character with a code. Zouga is SELF SERVING, Robin after Mungo saved her from the Portugese turns him in to Clinton.. And Clinton, while he and Robyn may believe slavery is bad, both are duplicitous and have alternative motives.

Mungo St. John also tells Robyn early on before she judges him, look at how the people of the interior treat each other. No Excuse for slavery. But..

And Mungo St. John, a real man. A man with a Code... the others... NO CODE...
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby E-Hoog » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:48 am

Well, there are some iffy moral moments with Mungo later on :-) . Especially in Men of Men.
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Re: Reviews of "A Falcon Flies"

Postby E-Hoog » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:39 am

highlander999 wrote:Well, starting the Ballentine Series, and Mungo St. John is the all out hero of the book.

I don't like him being a Slaver, but he's the only honest character with a code. Zouga is SELF SERVING, Robin after Mungo saved her from the Portugese turns him in to Clinton.. And Clinton, while he and Robyn may believe slavery is bad, both are duplicitous and have alternative motives.

Mungo St. John also tells Robyn early on before she judges him, look at how the people of the interior treat each other. No Excuse for slavery. But..

And Mungo St. John, a real man. A man with a Code... the others... NO CODE...


[tiny spoiler ahead]
It's so interesting to read your comment and my response. I've just finished Falcon again and towards the end I had a bit of a moral crisis. Yes, we should all hate Mungo for being a slaver, but at the same time I completely agree with you! At the end I was rooting for Mungo, even though I already knew the end!
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