'Flight of the Falcon'
A Novel by Wilbur Smith
-----This is the first novel in a series featuring the Ballantyne family. You will adventure with Robyn and Zouga Ballantyne in this
exciting novel centered on Africa's east coast in the later half of the
18th century when slave trade to India, China, and especially America
is in full swing.
-----Robyn, an African native returning for the first time, is an
extremely strong-willed and talented nurse with very definitive anti-slavery feelings, yet she finds herself dangerously attracted to one of America's most notorious traders of skin, Mungo St. John.
-----'There were two seamen working the pump lustily, and the clear seawater hissed from its throat in a solid jet. Naked, Mungo St. John stood beneath it, lifting his face and his arms toward it, the water sleeking his black hair down over his face and neck, flattening his body hair over his chest and the muscled plane of his belly. She had stood and stared completely frozen, unable to tear her eyes away. The two seamen had turned their heads and grinned lewdly at her while they kept the handles pumping and hissing water.'
-----'Of course she had seen a man's naked body before, laid out on the dissection table, soft white flesh collapsing over bone, and with belly pouch slit open and internal organs spilling out of it like butcher's offal, or between the grubby blankets of fever hospital, sweating and stinking and racked with the convulsions of onrushing death - but never like this, not healthy and vital and overwhelming like this.'
-----'This was marvelous symmetry and balance of trunk to long powerful legs, of broad shoulders to narrow waist. There was a luster to the skin, even where the sun had not gilded it. This was not an untidy tangle of masculine organs, half hidden by a bush of course hair, shameful and vaguely revolting. This was vibrant manhood, and she had been struck with sudden insight as to the original sin of Eve, the serpent and the apples, here offered again, and she had gasped aloud. He had heard her and stepped from under the thundering jet of water, and flicked the hair from his eyes. He saw her standing near, unable to move or tear her eyes away, and he smiled that lazy, taunting smile, making no move to cover himself, and the water still streaming down his body and sparkling like diamond chips on his skin.'
-----"Good Morning, Dr. Ballantyne," he had murmured. "Perhaps I am to be the subject of one of your scientific studies?" (pages 2-3)*
-----'As Robyn makes her trip to Africa to find and follow her father and to assist him with his missionary work in the unexplored African interior, her brother, Zouga heads for the continent for a much different reason.'
Continued at top of page
-----'Zouga lifted his hand from hers and carefully stroked his thick side whiskers...."Did you hear that they found diamonds on the Orange River?" He lifted his glass and examined the lees in the bottom of it attentively. "We are so very different, you and I, and yet in some ways so much alike." He poured fresh wine into his glass and went on casually. "I am in debt, sissy."
-----'The word chilled her. Since her childhood she had been taught a dread of it'
-----"How much?" she asked at last quietly.
-----"Two hundred pounds." He shrugged.
-----"So much!" she breathed, and then, "You haven't been gambling, Zouga?"4>
-----'That was one of the other dread words in Robyn's vocabulary.'
-----"Not gambling?" She repeated.
-----"As a matter of fact, I have," Zouga laughed. "And thank God for that. Without it I would be a thousand guineas under."
-----"You mean you gamble - and actually win?" Her horror faded a little, became tinged with fascination.
-----"Not always, but most of the time."
-----'She studied him carefully, perhaps for the first time. He was only twenty-six years old, but he had the presence and aplomb of a man ten years older. He was already a hard, professional soldier, tempered in the skirmishes on the border of Afghanistan where his regiment had spent four years. She knew that there had been cruel encounters against the hill tribes, and that Zouga had distinguished himself. His rapid promotion was proof of that.'
-----"Then how are you in debt, Zouga?" she asked.
-----"Most of my officers, even my juniors, have private fortunes. I am a major now, I have to keep some style. We hunt, we shoot, mess bills, polo ponies...," He shrugged again.
-----"Will you ever be able to repay it?"
-----"I could marry a rich wife," he smiled, "or find diamonds." (pages 13-14)*
-----Though both are in the same place at the same time, this novel is about the discovery that their lives are so amazingly different.
-----Join them as they penetrate the African interior together, both heading their separate ways.
-----Once again Wilbur Smith assembles a book that has about as much chance of leaving your hands as your fingers do.
*"Flight of the Falcon" Wilbur Smith. Published by Ballantyne Books. Copyright 1980.