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New Britain KZ1

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Success Stories

by Robert Oldham

Photo by kind permission of the author


ISBN 0 9690573 4 2
Raven Press, 2005
313pp, paperback
Retail price $40 (Canadian) or 20

I must start by saying how much I am enjoying this series. My review of Saving the King is elsewhere on this site and I was very happy to plunge into the second volume which takes the action to 1942. Britain is now New Britain under the rule of Germany. Adolf Hitler is learning to be an English gentleman in hunting pink and there are concentration camps on the Isles of Wight and Man. Meanwhile our heroes, the Canadian twins John and Alan Stafford, are still fighting the good fight and saving the world for freedom.

I am thoroughly enjoying this boy’s own adventure, but that does not mean it cannot be improved. After all, helping authors is the point of this web-site, so let’s get on with it.

This feels very much like a draft copy. There are numerous and frequent mistakes, mainly in grammar, with repetition all over the place.

Mr Oldham needs to look again at his continuity, a very important factor when dealing with a canvas this large. Winston Churchill dies (of over-work!) early in this novel, but, as we move on, he occasionally gets referred to as still alive.

I mention this is a large canvas. Sometimes I feel Mr Oldham has just put too much into it. The glaring example for me is the twin substitution. This is a very old literary device, where one identical twin takes the place of the other, but here I could see no reason for it at all. Also, the implications of the substitution were too far ranging, if dealt with properly. Possibly, for I realise the author has a plan for this series stretching well after this book, the literary reason for the substitution may come in a later volume, but, as it stands in this one, it just appears a bit silly.

The author has done a vast quantity of research for this series and certainly is on top of his material. Unfortunately, sometimes I think his research shows rather more than it should. While it is good practise to mention that a British soldier has a Lee Enfield rifle, it isn’t good practise to keep repeating that. This happens in this book with every piece of ordnance there is; each gun, plane, ship, etc. It does give colour and authenticity, but Mr Oldham is not writing a history, he is writing a fantasy, closely based on reality admittedly, but sharply diversified from it. He needs to be more disciplined with the use of his, admittedly large, knowledge.

There isn’t, for me, a stand out image in this volume equalling that of the eye-patched Queen shooting from the back of a car we had in Saving the King, although I liked the boy on the Isle of Wight with his Nazi-killing Jaguar. However this is still a ripping yarn of the best kind, which reminded me of the "Commando" black and white comics I used to read in my youth. I hope I get the opportunity to read Book Three.

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams

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Saving the King