Monday, September 27, 2010

Blood Lily

Mason Cranswick
30 Degrees South (2010)
ISBN 9780958489195
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views


"Blood Lily" is the story of Bruce, Conway, Scott, and Simba, four young men ready to take on the world. Mason Cranswick takes the reader back to the 1970's to a time when Zimbabwe was a respected contributor to African culture.

The Rhodesian War left the country devastated and still divided. A nation in which a minority ruled a majority population became a country ruled by terror, greed, and carnage under the rule of Robert Mugabe.

Cranswick captures the beauty of the Zimbabwe's vegetation and wildlife. He brilliantly reveals insights into the bonding and friendship discovered in boyhood, the loyalty of friendship developed in the midst of battle, the competitive drive for winning, and the self destruction of personal revenge.

Detailed descriptions are given of the meticulous repetition of SAS beret training, the briefing sessions, and the risk of the enemies' reaction to diversionary attacks. 

The symbolism of the "Blood Lily," reflections seen in the mirrored water, dreams, premonitions, and memories all play a part in carrying out the drama, action, suspense, and romantic aura of Cranswick's sensitive writing.

I personally enjoyed Cranswick's literary style and his underlying compassion, in the midst of graphic descriptions of battle, torture, and death. On occasion I found I had to backtrack in my reading to determine the timeline, and some difficulty in sorting out the reality of the plot with the dreams and back-flashes. I enjoyed the choice of word usages of African/ English expressions which added to the local flavor of the story.

The author was born and raised in Zimbabwe, has an MBA degree from Cambridge University, a degree in commerce from Rhodes University in South Africa, as well as a career in investment banking with assignments in Tokyo, London, New York, and Singapore which adds credibility to the many facets of the background and plot twists of this complex story.

This is a book for the history buff that enjoys the fast pace of battle scenes a realistic look at the political impact on a country's economy, culture, and future, as well as the sensitivity of interpreting individual differences, in abilities and opportunities.  "Blood Lily" is a gripping story with a lingering sense of wonderment.

Read interview with Mason Cranswick