Menace Emanated From Them As Fiercely As The Heat From The Sun Night And Day, The Drums Never Stopped, A Constant Reminder Of The Mortal Threat That Hung Over Them She Could Hear Them Booming Across The Waters, Like The Heartbeat Of The MonsterAn Unimaginable Enemy Will Bring Them Together In The Burning Heat Of The Sudanese Sun, The City Of Khartoum Is Under Siege From The Fearsome Forces Of The Mahdi, The Charismatic Leader Of Those Who Tire Of The Brutal Egyptian Government In Khartoum, Along With Thousands Of Innocent Citizens, Are Trapped The Fanatical General Charles Gordon, Intrepid Soldier Penrod Ballantyne Of The Th Hussars, English Trader Ryder Courtney And The British Consul And His Three Beautiful Daughters As Rescue Becomes Increasingly Unlikely, This Group Of Queen Victoria S Loyal Citizens Must Unite To Prepare Themselves Against A Nightmarish Enemy, And For The Savage Battle To Survive That Must Surely Follow The Courtneys Meet The Ballantynes In A Sweeping Adventure The description on the topographic, vegetation, the animal kingdom and culture of the native tribes of the history area, is superb.It is warming to have Gen Penrod Ballantyne appearing in the story.The description of the arrogant behavior of the German Junker Class, dominating Germany at the time and compare it with the civilized safari party of Theodore Roosevelt, and his notorious son Kermit.It helps us the fans of Wilbur Smith to name true historical names, like Der L ve von Afirika, thin names hep us to dig deeper into real history of the time frame.El ias Kristj nsson. I love the way Smith tells his stories A wonderful beginning to all the other Courtney and Ballentine series books I wish I had known about this book Pryor to reading several of his trilogies but thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. I have read every Wilbur Smith book I love his historical adventure focus The other Courtney s of Africa novels are awesome So too are the maritime novels and Eqypt series except The Quest But this one fails to live up to Smith s ability.Its a good book with a lot of potential, then you get to the last 100 pages, and its almost as if Smith must have gotten a call from his editor requesting the finished version 6 months early Instead of bringing the book to a a fitting ending, he summerizes what happend and then the end Gone is the narrative style and your told what happens to everyone, without experiencing it through the story Weak.Again, the book had so much potential, but was obviously hurried to conclusion Do yourself a favor, and read almost any other Wilbur Smith book Blue Horizon, River God, When the Lion Feeds, Seventh Scroll, the Courtneys of Africa series, etc are great Start there instead. No Author does as well as Wilbur Smith when it comes to setting stories in Africa Being a native, he captures the culture, conflicts and politics of the land and makes them fresh for the reader What is amazing is that he does so for widely differing times and locals This book is such an example.It takes place primarily in the Sudan during the Dervish uprisings of the late 1800s It is a desert piece set in fairly recent times This contrasts with his stories of ancient Egypt in its relative modernity It also contrasts with most of his other works set in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe Where there is no contrast is in the quality of the story.Khartoum is under siege by the Mahdi Gen Chinese Gordon is trying to hold out until a British relief column arrives Among those under his protection are the British consul and his three daughters He also has the help of Ryder Courtney, a trader, and Penrod Ballantyne, a queen s officer The two don t get along very well but each is extremely competent Each is also in love with the oldest of the daughters.The first half of the book is devoted to the struggles which take place during the siege but history dictates that Khartoum must fall and a bloodbath ensues The remainder of the book chronicles the happenings of the three young girls and their would be rescuers.The names of Courtney and Ballantyne will be familiar to Smith fans Each family has several books written about their fictional exploits The families have sometimes met in other books but they have never been intertwined as much as in this one.Its an exciting book that is well written.