Bibliofemme Bookclub An Irish Bookclub

January 10, 2012

Monday’s Warriors by Maurice Shadbolt

Filed under: Book Reviews,Historical Fiction,Irish — The Historian @ 12:55 pm
Monday's Warriors Book Cover Monday's Warriors
Maurice Shadbolt
David R. Godine Publisher

Taking a Yankee, putting him into the British army and throwing him into the middle of the Maori Land Wars of the 1860s could almost be seen as over-egging the pudding yet Kimball Bent of the State of Maine in the USA, Maurice Shadbolt’s anti-hero in Monday’s Warriors, is based on a real man. Sometimes life is, indeed, stranger than fiction. But sometimes fiction manages to round out and explore the detail of a real life, showing the universal through the particular.

Bent may not have been particularly representative of the settlers that arrived in New Zealand during the nineteenth century but, through his eyes, we are shown a history of the country that otherwise may have remained invisible. He is a fascinating character, always ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time but, nevertheless, managing to avoid death by the skin of the teeth numerous times.

Bent is not the only real character brought to life by Shadbolt who also resurrects the Maori war leader Titokowaru. In his numerous battles with the British, Titokowaru becomes a symbol of the spirit and resilience of the Maori but Shadbolt shows the effect that this has on the man and his people.

A New Zealander, Shadbolt has English, Irish, Welsh, and Australian ancestry and many representatives of each country make their way into this stirring narrative. His descriptions of the landscape of New Zealand and the conflicts between English army and settlers and the indigenous people who are being deprived of their land and heritage are absorbing for anyone with an interest in colonial history. This is a richly rewarding work of revisionist historical fiction. The Historian

September 2005


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