Huntingtower by John Buchan
This is my review of the book Huntingtower by John Buchan. When coming to write the blog I realised that somehow my entry for this book had not been published. Shows me that I should check my blog a bit more often. Probably in a hurry and closed the browser without publishing. Anyway.
I listened to this as an audio book – normally I listen to audio books when driving or making cards for our business Hungry Giraffe www.hungrygiraffe.co.uk. This book appealed as it was set in the south west of Scotland near Carrick in the early 1920's. The hero of the book is a old grocer who has sold up his business, and has now retired.
He goes on a walking holiday and uncovers the imprisonment of a Russian lady aristocrat by Bolshevik agents. He sets about freeing her and uses a amazing group of lads from Glasgow the Gorbal Diehard's to help him. The locals join in and uncover a plot based on espionage and violence, which contrasts greatly with the local domestic tranquil Scottish landscape. The low-tech convoluted method that they use to rescue her is fantastic, and a battered bicycle wheel also is key to saving our hero form certain death.
As much as the story is interesting and fun, the asides of everyday description are amazing as well. The Diehard's smoking for example. The story has been compared to a modern fairy-tale of rescue of a young princess.
All good fun. I listened to the Librivox recording and this was book 22 week 17 fiction 20 (4 on audio) non fiction 2
The Island of Sheep by John Buchan
This is my review of the book The Island of Sheep by John Buchan.
The Island of Sheep is the fifth book in the Richard Hannay series, and continues the theme that Hannay and his friend Sandy are the prototype super hero of all espionage fiction.
The action takes place across various locations in Britain, and then moves to the fictious location The Island of Sheep, which is situated in the fictional area called Norlands, which is based on the Faeroes.
A large amount of the story is based around chasing from one place to another. I particularly enjoyed the description of his route going North to Scotland, mentioning the local villages around where I live. They do make it to the more easily defendable bolt-hole of Laverlaw, Clanroyden's seat in the Scottish borders. But then have to move from there back to the Island of Sheep to defend it and keep if for Haraldsen.
But I must not spoil the plot, all I will say is that the story revolves around a long-forgotten promise made by Hannay in his days as a mining engineer in South Africa. He had sworn to defend the interests of Marius Haraldsen, a wealthy Danish gold-prospector and expert in Norse lore, against a group of unscrupulous former business associates and assorted desperadoes. Hannay, Pienaar and fellow Englishman Lombard join Haraldsen at his camp on a Rhodesian plateau, and in a scene worthy of Rider Haggard, they beat off an attack on their hill-top redoubt with timely help from local tribesmen. However, that is not the end of the matter. Some thirty years later, with Haraldsen now dead, Albinus, the surviving member of the original gang and Troth, the son of one of the others, decide to take the vendetta to the next generation.
It was an enjoyable read as book 40 week 28 fiction 38 (11 on audio) non fiction 2
The Three Hostages by John Buchan
The Three Hostages by John Buchan is the fourth instalment in the Richard Hannay Stories, and deals with his adventures after World War 1.
Set seven years after The Thirty-Nine Steps, it pits Hannay against a charismatic rising star of the political firmament, Dominick Medina.
The three hostages of the title are the victims of an international conspiracy, with Medina at its centre, to hypnotise members of the families of important public figures and then manipulate them for criminal ends.
In this story he is joined by some familiar faces, notably his feisty wife Mary, and the Scottish laird, adventurer and master of disguise, Sandy Arbuthnot. When Hannay is first asked to help find the hostages, the only clue as to their whereabouts lies in some cryptic lines of verse which the malefactors have left dangling tantalisingly in front of their pursuers. Hannay is forced to wrestle with obscure classical and literary references in order to track them down and the recollection of an equally arcane Latin quotation overheard by Sandy finally leads to Medina.
To get to this end Hannay has to allow himself to seemingly become taken over by Medina, as he tries to use his mind bending tricks to gain control of his subjects.
A very enjoyable book and certainly as good as the first three, though probably not as well known. This was book 33 week 23 fiction 31 (9 on audio) non fiction 2
Mr Standfast by John Buchan
This is the third book in the Richard Hannay series, I had read the other two before I started to record them here. It continues the story of his exploits as a British secret agent during the final years of World War 1
John Buchan's plots seem to enjoy a sense of travel and this book is no exception. Our hero finds himself travelling, firstly to Glasgow, and then on north up to the Isle of Skye, and then back to London being pursued by the police. His trip evolves a wide variety of transport, including hitching a ride on a plane.
The plot then moves to France, Italy and Switzerland and he helps save the British forces from defeat during this time in the war, by stopping the arch enemy spy, and exposing the underground railway.
The story also has love and sadness. Richard finds his true love, but his great friend is killed in an aircraft battle. An enjoyable book and I now want to read the next part of the saga – The Three Hostages.
This was book 27 week 18 fiction 26 (8 on audio) non fiction 1
Prester John by John Buchan
I listened to this as an audio book from librivox http://librivox.org/prester-john-by-john-buchan/
John Buchan is an author that I have so far enjoyed and as readers will see I am in the middle of reading/listening to the thirty nine steps series. This book was not one of those but one that concerned the life of a young lad called David Crawfurd, firstly as he was growing up on the coast of Scotland, where they accidentally witness a visiting African preacher not behaving as he should doing some very un-Christain rites around a camp fire.
Time moves on and our hero finds himself in South Africa working as an assistant shop keeper. Here he comes across the preacher again, but now as a charismatic leader of an uprising. Preaching Africa for the Africans. To justify his right as leader he has the diamond mantle called Prester John, which once belonged to a legendary 15th Century Christain king of Ethiopia.
David somehow has to try and stop the massacre of the local white settlers, along with trying to make off with the diamonds for good measure.
This was an enjoyable story that made traffic queues fly by. Book 22 week 14 fiction 21 (8 on audio) non fiction 1
Mr Standfast by John Buchan
I currently have a backlog of three reviews for books – I am actually getting through them faster than writing about them, which is fairly amazing. This is the third story in the Richard Hannay Series. I listened to the two previous books The Thirty Nine Steps and Greenmantle as audio books before I had started recording my reviews. The librevox recording of these books are very listen-able especially if sitting in the car for long journeys.
Anyway moving back to this story. This picks up the story of Richard Hannay who has unwittingly become a secret agent for the British, in the final part of the first world war 1917 to 1918. Without giving the plot away too much Richard follows the trail of an arch spy for Germany, across England, Scotland and then Europe. There is a fantastic description of him hiding in the heather and peat bogs of Skye being eaten alive by the midges. This section and the final part where he is fighting in the trenches are so real, The death and destruction described bring home the horror of warfare, with a real sad final twist as one of the key characters dies on the last page.
I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the series to see how Richard progresses as a hero of espionage. This was book 39 week 31 – read novels 26, poetry 1, study 2 audio 10
A lovely book describing life during the Napoleonic period in Southern Scotland and the Cheviots of Northumberland. Evidently carriage riding was the formula one of the day, considering the number of words used to describe all the different types of horse drawn transport used for racing around. It could be described as a classic tale of espionage , adventure and attempted murder. A really good read as the saying goes. - Though this is being posted today It was actually finished last week, but had no access to my blog then. I have nearly finished my next book
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.