A Kingdom for the Brave

Written by Tamara McKinley
Review by Mike Ashworth

A Kingdom for the Brave is the story of a disparate group of people struggling for survival in the early days of the colonisation of Australia. The book opens with the massacre of an aboriginal tribe as part of a policy of land clearance, which while not official policy is tacitly ignored. The only survivors are a small boy and his grandmother who seek refuge with another tribe, and while their story is an important part of the book, this is more than just a tale of what we would now call ethnic cleansing. It is also the story of three families – the Collinsons, Cadwalladers and the Penhaligons, set against a backdrop of raids against the aborigines, convict uprising and rebellion against the Governor.

Well written, A Kingdom for the Brave opens in Australia in 1797 and ends in England in 1813, and brings vividly to life an evocation of what life must have been like in those early days of Australian colonisation. The harshness of the life for both settlers and convicts alike is in stark contrast to the simple, but spiritual life of the aborigines, and makes you wonder who is civilised and who the savage. Recommended.