Prequel to the Ballantyne Saga – this is a Book Review of Call of the Raven
Wilbur Smith is the author who has always transported his readers into the wonderful vista that is Africa – in all its splendor and glory.
Plot Summary – Book Review
As Wilbur Smith himself puts it in the foreword, many of his readers had asked him about Mungo St.John – where did he come from, why did he do what he did and Wilbur wanted to go back to Mungo’s origins. Before ‘A Falcon Flies‘ happened, this story is the prequel to that.
We hope you will find Call of the Raven a fascinating exploration of the dying days of the slave trade. It feels like an important contribution to our understanding of a period in history which continues to throw long shadows into the darkest aspects of the human soul.Wilbur Smith & Corban Addison in a letter to the readers
Set in the early 1840’s, it starts during Mungo St.John’s youth. He’s called back from Cambridge, where he was completing his education, to his homestead in Virginia, US, due to his father’s sudden death. But, much to his chagrin, he finds that beloved estate has been swindled away by the time he arrives, and he is now without home or hearth. All his heritage has been usurped by the evil and cunning family lawyer, Chester Marion.
Even his childhood sweetheart, a slave herself, by the name of Camilla, is kidnapped and taken away by the same man. Mungo hears her being shot as he’s pulled away by Chester’s henchmen. Consumed with anger and hatred at the unfairness of it all, Mungo wants to go after Chester only to be thwarted by his goons and thrown into jail on a false charge. He goes to his grandfather, Amos Rutherford, for help but his solution was to go slaving and come back rich enough, to take on Chester and win back what was always, rightfully his.
After much thought, Mungo accepts the proposal and sets off on the adventure of his life, which takes him to Britain and Africa and back to US, via Cuba. The journey takes place over several months, over high seas, racial villainy and a mutiny!
‘Light and darkness are entwined in your blood, opposing destinies that will collide in your youth. A sacrifice they shall demand, and a sacrifice they shall see. There is no other way.’Wilbur Smith in Call of the Raven
When Mungo finally comes back to US, to New Orleans, it is with the knowledge that Camilla may be alive and is well entrenched into Chester’s business dealings and under great duress, is used by Chester to curry favour among his powerful allies. But to take on Chester and destroy his mighty financial empire, while taking back what was rightfully his, would require a fortune but Mungo doesn’t have that.
As it draws to a pulsating climax, Camilla reveals a shattering truth to Mungo, but it doesn’t deter him, only serves to feed the fire of revenge burning inside him. This book review is meant to encourage you to read the book…
Conclusion of the Book Review
There is only one law on this earth – the law that gives the strong and wealthy power over the weak and poor.Wilbur Smith in Call of the Raven
Though it will be a stretch to say that Wilbur Smith is back at his superlative best, it will suffice to say that he’s recovered from the dross he’d started dissing out with Hector Cross! Here the language is refined, the imagery vivid – Africa and Southern US come alive through the vibrancy of his descriptions; and best of all – he asks questions of our morality to which there is no clear answer. The world is not divided into Black and White, it is the greys that define most of us. For a Wilbur Smith fan, it’s a must read!