A Falcon Flies - Wilbur Smith I love Wilbur Smith and have read many of his books including [b:Men of Men|16952|Men of Men (The Ballantyne Novels, #2)|Wilbur A. Smith|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317792998s/16952.jpg|18592] (book 2) of the Ballantyne Family series which I greatly enjoyed (it follows Zouga many years down the road.) Unfortunately, this book, the first in the Ballantyne Family series is just so-so. I greatly disliked the God-fearing (but only when she wants to be) heroine, Robyn and sometimes liked and sometimes disliked her brother Zouga who was only after riches (gold and ivory) regardless of his claims.

Robyn and Zouga are returning to Africa with a threefold mission 1) to find their missing missionary father who disappeared years ago; 2) to spread the word of God to the heathens; and 3) to put an end to the horrific slave trading occurring throughout Africa. The story starts with them on a ship headed to Cape Town only to realize that it is actually a slaver, the very thing they are going to Africa to stop. Regardless of her hatred of the slave trade and of the captain of this vessel, Mungo St. John, Robyn is fascinated by him and sleeps with him. Right here is the first point of the story that annoyed me for many reasons. And unfortunately it just got worse from here. I suffered through all 704 pages just waiting for the end.

And Zouga's story wasn't any easier to read. He is heading to the interior in hopes of locating the lost city of Monomatapa, a city rich in silver and gold. He is relentless in his pursuit of elephants and ivory and the hunts are quite graphic and repetitive. He is supposed to be against slavery but that doesn't stop him for hiring (yes he pays them) native people and then beating them to get their compliance. I just couldn't deal with the hypocrisy nor the brutality of Zouga, supposedly the good guy.

This is obviously one of Wilbur Smith's earlier books and definitely not one of his best efforts. I think this book was in serious need of an editor to weed out the unnecessary details and a re-write to provide some depth to his one dimensional characters.