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Some thoughts on Enid Blyton and the 50p coin

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Recently, it was proposed to put Enid Blyton, the children’s author, onto the 50p coin. This was rejected on the grounds that she was a racist, homophobic and sexist.

This worries me slightly because we are judging someone from a different era in the light of our own. Admittedly, the three things she has been accused of are deeply unpleasant—at least to our more enlightened eyes. I personally abhor all these things.

She has also been condemned and removed from libraries, not because of this, but because some people thought that she used too simple language and did not stretch children’s vocabulary.

When I was a child, I loved her books. I read them avidly. They were exciting. Her Famous Five books, her Mallory Towers books, the Adventure books, the Faraway tree books, the Secret Seven, and my favourite as a child, Shadow the Sheepdog were all read with great pleasure.

Now let us examine the accusations.

Racism.

She certainly had golliwogs in the Noddy books, and they were the baddies. But golliwogs were common toys in the 40s and 50s and no one thought anything was wrong with them. There was The Black and White Minstrel Show on the TV, and the blacking up of white men as black minstrels was accepted.

Now I’m not saying it was right, Clearly it must have been deeply offensive to black people. What I am saying, is that when she was writing, golliwogs were not considered to be offensive, and so to brand her as racist on the grounds of having gollisogs in the Noddy books, and making them bad, was acceptable at the time.

Sexism.

Was she sexist? At that time, it women usually stopped working when they married. They then devoted their time to looking after the home and raising the children. That was how it was.

Because Anne, in the Famous Five, did the cooking when they were camping does not make Miss Blyton a sexist. She was reflecting the way things were at that time. Boys simply did not cook.

That they do now, shows how far we’ve come. When she was writing, boys didn’t learn cooking and needlework at school, neither did girls do woodwork and metalwork. Now they are all merged together under the title of Technology, or Design and Technology.

Homophobia.

Homosexual acts were illegal in England and Wales until 1967, but only between consenting adults over the age of 21, and even then, not in the armed forces, It was illegal in Scotland until 1980 and Northern Ireland until 1982. Thus, during the time when Enid Nlyton was writing, homosexuality was frowned upon by the state.

Having said that, reading the Famous Five books, Miss Blyton had a transexual (although the term was not used in those days.) Georgina, one of the five, and known as George, always dressed as a boy and had her hair cut short (unlike Anne who had long hair). She also expressed the desire to be a boy and behaved as a boy. That sounds very much like a transexual to me.

To conclude, I think that it is unfair to judge someone from a totally different era, with a totally different mindset by our much more enlightened and liberal standards.

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Miss Blyton was very important as an author. She got many children interested in reading. I am one of them. I devoured her books, as I said at the beginning of this post.
Some of her works, I understand, have been reworked. Things that we now consider wrong, why can’t they be altered. Noddy’s golliwogs could easily be changed into something else. Her baddies in the Famous Five, Sevret Seven and Adventure series, if people don’t think having them as foreign is right, could have their nationality changed.

The very first story I wrote was based on Shadow the Sheepdog. I was only about seven at the time. Would I have become a writer if I’d not had that early inspiration?

I think it’s wrong to judge people by today’s standards when the standards they lived in were so different.
I would love to hear what you think of this. Please post your comments in the comments box.

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Carthinal 5

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Several months later, as Carthinal and Wren were just leaving on a job, The Bull charged into the headquarters.
“Green Fish on our patch.” He paused for breath. “Their boss is with ‘em., too. Think they want to try a takeover.”
The Rooster surged to his feet and began pointing and giving orders. “Fox, Wren, come ‘ere. Job’s cancelled. Porcupine, get th’ weapons. Bull, find th’ other big guys and come back ‘ere. Quickly. Everyone oo’s ‘ere gather round.”
Porcupine arrived pulling a large chest. The Rooster opened it and began handing out weapons. Daggers in the main, but he gave a bows to a couple of the stronger lads, who set about stringing them. Carthinal watched as they heaved on the heavy wood, realising the bows would need a great deal of strength to draw.
“Fox, take this knife.”
“I’ve never used one before.” Carthinal looked at the weapon, turning it over in his hands.
“Mind.” The Wren came up and took it from him. “It’s sharp. Very. You c’d cut yer fingers off.”
Carthinal grimaced and took it from her. “I’ll be careful. What happens now?”
“We go and fight Green Fish off our patch.”
Carthinal frowned and looked at his dagger again. “I don’t know how to fight.”
It was Wren’s turn to grimace. “Then you’ll ’ave ter learn quick. That or die.” She gave a little laugh. “I’d ’ate ter see that ’appen.”
The gang was making its way through the door and into the street. Wren and Carthinal rushed to catch up. Green Fish had set themselves up in the park where Carthinal had slept when he first found himself on the streets. The gang, about thirty strong, stood in the entrance to the park.
A few citizens were strolling in the park as it was a pleasant spring day. One of the first of the year. They stopped, frozen in their tracks.
The Rooster stepped in front of the rest of the gang. “You’re on our patch.”
Another young man stepped in front of the group facing the Beasts. “Sez oo?”
“Sez me, and we’re gonna see you gone or dead.”
He beckoned the rest of the gang, who rushed through the gates. As soon as the gate cleared, the citizens rushed out. Carthinal watched them go, wishing he could go with them, but he must fight. How should he do it?
“Come on,” Wren whispered. “We’re missing all the fun.”
Fun? What’s fun about probably getting hurt, or possibly getting killed? In spite of his fears, Carthinal rushed towards the fight, after Wren.
It looked like chaos to Carthinal. He grasped his knife trying to find someone who he didn’t know to stab. He looked around. He recognised everyone. Then he saw someone he knew. Someone who was not one of the Beasts. Someone who had tried to rob him.
He felt his anger rise from somewhere in his stomach. Carthinal deserved to have his own back on this young man, and, although smaller, he rushed through the melee. He almost tripped over a body lying on the ground, but managed to catch his balance. The trip propelled him forward towards his selected victim. He held his dagger before him and thrust it forwards.
The young man in question had his back to Carthinal, and the dagger entered between his ribs, and pierced a lung. He went down with a cry. Carthinal smiled.
He found himself in the middle of the battle. How dare these people try to take over his gang’s territory? His anger had not been assuaged. The stabbing of his enemy only fed it. He swung the knife at random, but, as luck would have it, he made contact with a young woman’s eyes. She screamed and fell.
So it went on for what seemed to Carthinal like hours. When the last of Green Fish ran away, leaving their friends groaning on the park grass, he looked at the sky. The sun had not moved far. The battle had taken no more than half an hour. He looked around to see how many of his friends had been injured.
There was The Rooster, covered in blood, but checking those lying on the ground. Some he helped to their feet, calling others to take them away. Some he sighed over, bent and closed their eyes, but most he left.
The sound of pounding feet brought Carthinal to his senses. The Cat, blood running from a cut on his cheek, called “Fox, run. It’s the guard. If they catch you, you might as well have been killed here.”
All those who could, scattered in all directions. The guards tried to pursue them, but quickly lost them as soon as they got into the poor quarter. Gradually all made their way back to the headquarters.

 

The Rooster counted them. “We lost five. I hope the injured make it back. I sent them off with help before the guards arrived.”
Slowly the injured, and those helping them arrived.
“Did we lose any on the way?” he asked The Scorpion, who was helping the injured.
“No. We all got back.”
Carthinal looked round the room. Some had minor wounds, others more serious. He had a cut on his hand, and one young woman had managed to cut his shirt, but the knife had not gone through.
“Where’s Wren?” he asked. He felt a hollow feeling in his stomach as he realised she was nowhere to be seen.
The Rooster searched the room with his eyes. He turned to The Scorpion. “But we didn’t all get back. The Wren isn’t here.”
The Scorpion hung his head. “Sorry, boss. I thought she was with Fox.”
“Thought? Thought?” The Rooster paced up and down. “What do you mean, ‘Thought’? Did you think to check with Fox?”
The Scorpion shook his head. “Sorry” he repeated, shuffling his feet.
“We must find her.” The Rooster began organising the search. “She wasn’t among the dead, so she left the park. Let’s just hope she’s not been caught by the Guard.”

Where is Wren? Has she been caught? Find out the first Tuesday in October.

This is the story of Carthinal’s youth. Carthinal is a young man in my Wolves of Vimar series which begins with The Wolf Pack. You can buy this, and my other books, by clicking on the images in the side bar.

I hope you are enjoying this story. Please let me know in the comments.

The Day on Vimar. How the people of that world break up the day.

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I’ve often wondered why we start the day in the middle of the night, and the year at a date that seems rather random.

Let’s think about the day first.

To me, it would seem obvious that the day begins when the sun rises. Or, I suppose you could say it ends when the sun sets, which would mean the next day begins at either sunrise or sunset. But why did someone—who?—decide the middle of the hours of darkness was a good idea? Anyway, midnight isn’t the middle of the hours of darkness all the year round, anyway.

Now if we say the day begins at sunrise, I can see that would be a problem, especially for the modern world. That can be solved by saying the day begins at the time of dawn on the equinoxes. That is round about 6am.

When I devised my world of Vimar for my Wolves of Vimar Series, I had to decide on how the people would break up their day. This is a totally different world from Earth, although, for simplicity’s sake, I still use hours and minutes. The people on Vimar hold the number six as sacred and all multiples of six also have power. Thus 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day makes sense.

So, on Vimar, the day begins at what we would call 06:00 or 6am. That to them would be 00:00. They begin counting from there. 7am would be 01:00. 10am would be 04:00. What we call midday, to someone on Vimar would be 06:00.

They also use the 24 hour clock.

If a person wanted to have a meeting at, say, 10am, by our standard, they would say, “I’ll meet you at the fourth hour.”

I don’t use the time very much in the book, but I thought it would be essential in my world building to try to think about this.

I will go into the year on the third Tuesday of next month,

If you want to read more, and about Carthinal and his friends and their adventures on the world of Vimar, you can buy the first 3 books by clicking on the covers in the sidebar. I am serialising Carthinal’s early life on the first Tuesday of every month.

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Carthinal part 4

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Carthinal spent the next few weeks learning the language of the underworld. The Rooster would not allow him to leave the headquarters until he was reasonably proficient. He must be able to talk with other members of the gang without the Guard understanding.
One day, after he had been with The Beasts for six months, The Rooster called to him. “Fox, you go with Wren. There’ll be lots of punters out in the market. She’ll pick a pocket, then pass it to you. You leave in th’ opposite direction an’ come back ’ere. Don’t run. That’d raise suspicions.”
Carthinal grinned. At last The Rooster trusted him to do a job. His eyes glowed with a seeming inner light, and he jigged on the spot.
“Fox,” The Rooster called as they passed him. “Cover yer ’ead. Yer auburn ’air is too distinctive. Can’t do anything ’bout those eyes, but don’t look straight at anyone. No one else ’as eyes that dark blue.”
Carthinal nodded as he pulled a hood over his hair, and left in the company of The Wren.
The Wren had brown hair and eyes, and was of small stature. They walked to the market, but as soon as they entered The Wren whispered to Carthinal.
“We separate here. Keep me in sight. When you see me bump into a punter, come to me. Don’t stop. I’ll put the stuff into your hand. Keep on going and don’t look at me.”
Carthinal mingled with the crowds, pretending to look at the goods in the market, but always keeping The Wren in sight. She passed many people, and Carthinal wondered how she chose her victim. He saw her stumble and bump into a rich-looking woman.
He walked quickly towards her and heard her say. “I’m sorry ma’am. Caught me foot on summat.” She looked down as if to search for what had tripped her.
Carthinal walked by, close to the woman and The Wren, and felt her hand touch his. He gripped something and continued walking, After a few yards he turned in the direction of the gang headquarters.
“Well done. You’re a natural.” The Wren caught him up.
Carthinal grinned at her. “I did alright, then?”
“Very good for a first time. In fact, I’ve had buddies worse than that after years of practice.”
Carthinal puffed his chest out. He would make sure he was the best in the gang.
The Rooster patted them both on the back. “Looks like you’ll make a good pair. A good haul here, too. There’s even an emperor in the purse.”
He held up a large coin made of platinum. “A few copper royals, ten silver crowns, and three gold monarchs as well.” He grinned and then sent them to get some food at the opposite end of the large room.
Carthinal had been sharing a room with The Cat who hoped to be a cat burglar and had begun his training. Soon, Carthinal and he became firm friends.
“What do you want to do, here?” queried The Cat one day.
Carthinal shrugged. “Not sure.”
“How do you fancy being a burglar? Lots of excitement.”
“No, that doesn’t appeal to me, really.”
“Y’ could be a pick-pocket, like The Wren, or The Rooster could set yer up in a shop in town, an’ you could be a fence.” The Cat’s gaze scanned Carthinal from head to foot. “I don’t think you’d be very good as security, though. We need people built like The Bull for that. Then there’re th’ beggars. They play on people’s sympathy. Usually with an injury or summat. You ain’t got no injury, but you’re pretty enough to make punters feel sorry for yer.”
“I’ve not thought about it, Cat. I suppose I should, really.’
It was decided for him, eventually.
The Rooster called him one day. “Fox, yer must earn yer keep. We ain’t a charity. Go over to The Snake and say I told ’im ter teach you ‘ow ter pick a pocket.”
Carthinal began to learn the art of picking pockets under The Snake’s tutelage. The Snake, as his name implies, was a slippery customer. He was tall and slender with thin, brown hair and green eyes.
“ I ’ave a pouch in me pocket. I’m gonna walk over there.” He pointed to the opposite side of the room. I want yer t’ get it out of me pocket. Dunna worry ’bout me feelin’ yer at th’ moment Just get it.”
This Carthinal did, In spite of what The Snake said, he tried to get it without the young man feeling him.
“Not bad. Yer technique’s not quite right, but we’ll work on that. Yer did well for a first time.”
So it went on over the next few months. Carthinal became better at picking pockets, until eventually, he was allowed to go out with The Wren again, this time to be the ‘dip’ while she received his stolen goods.
They came to the market, and Carthinal sighted a man with a bulging pocket. He stealthily walked towards him, looking the other way. Then he stumbled and bumped into the man, reaching quickly into his pocket and extracting a full purse. The Wren walked past as if she were looking at the stall, and Carthinal pressed the purse into her hand and walked away in the opposite direction.
The victim put his hand to his pocket to get his money to pay for a purchase. “Hey, I’ve been robbed.” He scanned the marketplace. Turning to the man next to him he said, “Did you see anything?”
The man shook his head.
Carthinal looked back and saw this exchange, but continued wending his way towards the gang’s headquarters. No one noticed the boy weaving between them, but concentrated on what went on at the stall, where the victim stridently called for the guard.
Back at the headquarters, The Wren handed the pouch over to The Rooster.
“Well done, the pair of you. Fox, you’re proving yourself a handy pickpocket.”

So Carthinal is learning to be a pickpocket. How will that square with his upbringing? Find out next time on the first Tuesday of August.

If you would like to know more about Carthinal’s later adventures, you can buy The Wolf Pack by clicking on the link here, and it will take you to amazon where you are. It is available both as an ebook or a paperback.

Please leave a comment in the box. I would love to hear your views on this little tale.

Review of Relissarium Wars, Part 1 by Andrew C. Broderick

 

I’ve just finished reading Book 1 of The Relissarium Wars and found it an excellent read.

It is, in fact, more of a novella than a book, but it is the first part of a series, and so is probably simply an introduction.

The characters are introduced in this book, along with the main storyline, which will, I presume, continue through the other books to come.


Theo is a farmer on the moon of Reliss, but is persuaded by his brother to pick up a package for him on his regular trip to the market. Little does Theo realise that this simple favour will land him into something much bigger and more dangerous than he thought. He is in over his head, but has to take part in a rebellion as there is no way out for him to get back home. Especially as his moon home has been annihilated, and so, with a price on his head, he has no choice but to help the Carbonari.

The book is well written. I was delighted not to come across typos and grammatical errors! There is plenty of action and the characters are believable, if not much development, but this may come in later books. This is after all a very short book taking place in a very short time. Hardly enough time for anyone’s character to develop.

I would recommend this book to any scifi fan and fans of action adventure.

A Poem from my Work in Progress.

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This story is set in Britain, in what is now Yorkshire at the time of the Danes and tells of the trials and tribulations of Helgha. This is a saga told by a scald (the Danish equivalent of a bard.) It tells of how Erik won Helgha from her father.

“Erik loved the beauteous maiden, Helgha,
The most beautiful maid
Amongst all the Danes.
Her flaxen hair flowed like moonlight on the seas
And her blue eyes glowed like the sky in summer.
But they could not marry.
For Erik was promised to another.
He visited his love often
Until her father challenged him
To a battle.
Sword rang on shield.
Axe split the air with sound like thunder.
Young and strong, was Erik,
Older and wily was Biorn.
Who would win?
Youth and strength or
Guile and Experience?
Biorn struck first with his axe,
But Erik raised his shield.
Biorn’s axe glanced off.
Erik fought bravely
Until Biorn’s shield broke.
Biorn hit Erik with the edge and drew first blood.
Brave Erik did not flinch.
Blood streamed from the gash in his cheek
But he fought on, ignoring pain and blood.
The battle continued for hours.
Erik parried the axe with his shield.
His sword longing for blood.
His eyes burning with the pleasure of the fight.
Then Erik saw Biorn tiring
The man’s steps became slow,
His axe dragged
As if reluctant to hit this brave young warrior.
Erik backed into a barn wall and feigned a slip.
When Biorn came with raised axe
To finish the battle and send Erik to Valhalla,
The young warrior rolled beneath the axe
And as Biorn raised his weapon,
Erik sent his sword upwards.
Into the heart of his foe it went.
Blood flowed over both.
As Biorn crashed down, Erik rolled away.
Helgha screamed.
Her lover and her father both drenched in blood.
Who lived and who died?
Then Erik rose and seized the maiden.
He fled to Stjarna, his horse,
And leaped to her back with Helgha.
They galloped all night
Until at dawn they arrived in Jorvik.
Now Erik has a beautiful bed-slave.
And a scar on his cheek
To remind all of his bravery.”

The book is undergoing the editing process at the moment. I’ll keep you all informed as to how it’s getting on. Nearly through the first rewrite.

New Design

I decided to have a new design for my website. I’ve given my dragon a little holiday. I think she needed one. As you can see, I replaced her with some of my books. (There’s one that’s not there, you’ll notice. )

I wanted to have my books showcased on the front page with a link to Amazon wherever you are. It will make it easier for people to go to their page and have a look (look inside and prices etc), and of course, buy.

If you want to know more about each book without going to Amazon, you can click on the My Books tab and read a blurb about each one.

At the moment, Vengeance of a Slave is self-published, but shortly, when I’ve gone through it once more to check there are no major errors and plot holes, it will be published by the same publisher who has published the other books. I hope it wont be too long.

The next book in that series, that follows a family through the ages, is on the way. It’s currently being critiqued. Then I need to go through it again at least once. I’ll be sending that to the publisher, too. This one is called Jealousy of a Viking and follows the personal conflicts of a young Viking girl, descended from Adelbehrt, the protagonist in Vengeance. I’m really looking forward to this being published. I’ve had some excellent comments from the critiquers, including one that said it has the potential to be a great book!

I’ll keep you informed about what is happening in future posts.

l love hearing from you, so please leave a comment in the box. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Carthinal’s Story. Part 1

I’ve posted something about the people in the Wolves of Vimar series. I have now started writing about Carthinal. At the beginning of The Wolf Pack, Book 1 in The Wolves of Vimar series, he is an apprentice mage. During that book, he becomes a full mage, having taken his tests that ended his apprenticeship.

He is a good-looking half-elf, with auburn hair and incredibly deep blue eyes, almost indigo. He is ambitious in magic, and with his good looks, females of all ages tend to pursue him. He does not discourage them.

In this, part 1, of his story, he is sixteen, but, being a half-elf, his development, both physical and mental, are more that of a boy of twelve.

So let’s begin his story.

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Carthinal dragged his feet as he entered the house accompanied by his nanny, Blendin.
He had just returned from his grandfather’s funeral. The old man had passed away suddenly the previous week. Before that, he had seemed full of life. Carthinal could not understand what had happened. His grandfather was the only relative he had in Bluehaven, his parents and his grandmother having died.
His father had been an elf, and so, although sixteen and nominally now of age, Carthinal’s development was slower than true humans and he appeared in both physical and mental development to be a young boy of eleven years old.
The house felt empty, devoid of life. Carthinal went into the garden at the back of the house. He sat on his swing and swung idly back and forwards. What would happen to him now? Would they send him to his father’s people in Rindisillaron? It was a long way away, and he had no recollection of his paternal grandparents, although they had been in Bluehaven when he had been born.
He looked at the house. He heard the laughter of his grandmother, and his grandfather’s deep voice. He even thought he heard his mother calling to him, although both his parents had been dead for the past eight years. He jumped off the swing and picked up a stick.
Slashing at the plants in the garden gave him a little satisfaction. “Why did they all die and leave me?”
Blendin came out and found him still destroying the garden. “Come, master Carthinal. This won’t help. You need to come in and have something to eat.”
“Shan’t! I’m not hungry” He slashed at a tulip.
“What have those poor flowers done to you? You know you’ll be sorry once you’ve calmed down a bit.”
“I don’t want to go back into the house. There’s no one there. It ‘s dead. Just like Mother and Father, Grandmother and Grandfather.”
Blendin sat down on a bench and pulled the boy towards her, holding him tight. “This is now your house, Carthinal. Your grandfather left it to you in his will. You are a rich young man. If you no longer want to live here, you can sell it, I suppose, and buy somewhere else.”
Looking into the boy’s indigo eyes, Blendin saw the deep hurt he felt. She brushed his auburn hair from his face and gently led him back to the house.
The servants worked as usual. Carthinal’s grandfather had arranged that money should be sent to Promin, the butler, who then paid the other servants. Carthinal had his meals in the nursery with Blendin, although Premin had said that as the master of the house he should eat in the dining room. Carthinal could not bring himself to eat alone in that large room.
The days passed. Gromblo Grimnor, the lawyer who dealt with his grandfather’s affairs, appeared frequently at the house.
Carthinal found him snooping around in his grandfather’s study one day.
“What are you doing?” the boy asked him, frowning. “Why are you here? You’ve been coming a lot recently.”
Gromblo Grimnor smiled. With his mouth, anyway. He looked Carthinal up and down. “There are a lot of loose ends to tidy up, child. I need to come here to find things out.”
Although sixteen, Carthinal had always been treated as a child, and so he turned and left the lawyer to do what he needed to do. The law did not know what to do about a boy whose chronological age said he was an adult, but whose development said he was a child.
Eventually, he went out every day to walk around the town. Sometimes he stayed out all day. He hated being in the house. He felt so alone. He considered going back to the school his grandfather had sent him, but they, like everyone else, did not want a sixteen-year-old who looked and behaved like and eleven-year-old. His grandfather’s money had kept him there, but now, they didn’t want him.
Visits by Gromblo Grimnor increased. Carthinal asked Promin why the lawyer was there so often. The butler shrugged and shook his head.

Blendin had no idea either. “I don’t know the workings of the law,” she told him. “Perhaps it’s because your grandfather died so suddenly, or perhaps because he was so well off. Or it might even be because of you. You are an adult in Grosmer law, but still a child, really. That’s a bit confusing for the lawyers.”

What was Gromblo doing? Will Carthinal find out? Come back on the first Tuesday of June to find out.

Please leave a comment in the comments box and say how you like this story. Or even if you didn’t. That’s helpful, too.

A Review of Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak

I have just finished reading the book below. Thoroughly enjoyable. Read my review below.

 

Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak
Dangerous Alliance
by

Randall Krzak (Goodreads Author)

The story is set in present day North Korea, Somalia and London. It tells of how an alliance is made between North Korea and Somali pirates. Of course, everyone cheats everyone else, and to add to the intrigue, the Somali pirates kidnap an important personage who is working in a refugee camp.
An undercover group, working for MI6 (or is it 5, I forget) is sent to both rescue the prisoner and to capture the pirates.
Of course, there is the North Korean ambassador, being forced, under threat, to bring about the trade between his country and the pirates.
Randall Krzak is an accomplished writer, and tells the story with authority. He brings the places and characters to life. His prose is excellent.
There is a twist at the end, when some of the relationships of the people are brought to light.
The story is full of action, and keeps you turning the page.
An brilliant read. I have no problem with giving it 5 stars.
Please feel free to leave a comment.