Shaka the Great
A weighty tome like this is usually a blessing for me, the bigger the better, but sadly this was not the case with this novel. This is the second book in the Amazulu series, and it follows the life and career of the great Zulu chief Shaka. It is not a straightforward read, however, as there are strange italicised sections which focus on the spiritual, witch-doctor elements presumably entering the inner mind of Shaka with sentences such as: “The Bull – which is his Bull – is coming awake, called forth by the swallow-tailed axes of the generals, and by the bellowing of the Indunas.” Perhaps fans of magic realism would like this novel as there is a zombie and the style sometimes seems to fit that genre somewhat. I have to confess that I didn`t get it, and that it wasn`t the novel for me, but this could be just a personal preference. My increasing dislike for the book made it hard for me to care about the characters or what was going on, and the frequent forays into the inner mind were distracting and made the plot hard to follow. The African flavour is very strong, however, perhaps too strong to aid comprehension at points for those readers like myself who know little about it. Sentences such as “’Nonetheless,’ says Mhlangana, pointing his isinkemba at the sangoma,” are quite off-putting. It is clear the author knows this continent extremely well, and many readers may appreciate being caught up into the dark world of the African spirit, but for me, it was just too alien and abstract.