Company of Spears

Written by Allan Mallinson
Review by Marina Oliver

This is the eighth Matthew Hervey military adventure, set in 1827. After a considerable time in the Hounslow Barracks, from where he deals with various personal matters, he goes to the Cape Colony where the settlers are being harassed by the displaced natives, in particular the Zulus.

The army and cavalry details could be dry and mere decoration to the story but the author incorporates them in such a way that the pace never flags. Whether it is routine drilling, supporting the civil authorities against potential insurrection, veterinary concerns or real battles, the reader feels involved. Fans of Hervey will relish this book.

In this book, an intriguing new character, Edward Fairbrother, the son of an Englishman and a West Indian slave, plays a significant role, and I hope we shall see more of him in the future.

My only quibble with this book is the difficulty of reading the end papers, antiqued maps of the Cape Colony on a dark background, so that it was difficult to follow the events in the Cape.