#46 – The Sword Of Fate, Dennis Wheatley BOOK REVIEW

May 31, 2018
krauserpua

Oh yes, this man just keeps knocking it out of the park! Many modern writers make their name with one recurring character in a series of books, be it the protagonist (Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher is one I like) or the antagonist (rarer, but Thomas HarrisHannibal Lecter is a good example). It makes sound financial sense to keep churning out books with the same well-loved character but I imagine it diminishes the author’s desire to keep writing. Even J.K. Rowling [1] got sick of writing Harry Potter and wrote a book under another name [2]

Sword of fate Dennis Wheatley

Wheatley had a plethora of series, such as those featuring Duke De Richleau (11 books, of which I’ve read 4), Gregory Sallust (11 books, read 3), Roger Brooks (12 books, read 2), Molly Fountain (2 books, read 1), and lastly Julian Day (3 books, read 1).

I dare say I’ve enjoyed them all.

This one kicks off in Cairo, Egypt where Julian Day is stationed in the early days of WWII. He has a chance meeting with a local bird of mixed Italian/Greek descent after crashing his motorbike. Naturally they fancy each other so a love affair develops. It’s named The Sword Of Fate because the bird seeks guidance from a fortune teller who informs her such a sword will always stand between them, and that forms the book’s theme.

In 1939 the war had yet to expand to North Africa but then the French surrender and the Vichy government sabotages British interests in the Mediterranean, leaving Her Majesty’s navy overstretched and the English troops sandwiched between the French on the Algeria side and the Italians on the other.

Initially Day and his bird are split up by a dastardly Italian officer, her fiance from an arranged marriage. He turns out to be working for the Nazis and also the globalist cabal who’d ruined Day’s reputation in the first book in the series. Then the Italians invade Greece and kick off trouble in Africa. The British army is drawn into fighting and Day with them. All kinds of machinations follow in typically unpredictable Wheatley style.

By book’s end he’s fought tanks in Libya, been held as a POW, liberated by advancing British forces, and deserted in Greece to chase down his nemesis and rescue his bird who has gone deep undercover to battle the Nazis. It’s a proper adventure story.

What made the book most interesting to me is its publication date: 1941. It was written when the war’s outcome looked strongly in Germany’s favour. The Battle of Britain was ongoing [3] and it seemed Hitler may yet invade Britain. Operation Barbarossa wouldn’t start until June 22nd 1941. At the time of writing, Germany had handily sewn up the Western Front, there was no Eastern Front, and Pearl Harbour (and thus USA’s entry on the Allies side) was a year away.

Nazi zombies

Before this happened

Things were pretty bleak for those of Europe who didn’t want to be ruled by squareheads.

This means Sword Of Fate is constantly jumping between a typical adventure story and two of Wheatley’s primary passions: venting about stupid decisions by British command, and lambasting the French for so meekly giving in to the Nazis. He also spends long passages giving pep talks to his readers about the need for Britain to hold out against the Nazi menace.

It’s interesting to read a war adventure story written before anyone knows who is going to win. So much of the war was as yet unknown.

If you’ve read one Wheatley novel you’ve read them all – you’ll know the style. It begins with an international flavour among characters of high social class and breeding. The protagonist shows himself a thoroughly solid chap, meets a girl and then things go to shit. There’s always a dastardly rascal opposing him who acts with an underhandedness that would shame even a pro-wrestling heel [4]. The protagonist sets off on a quest and encounters all manner of reversals on the way forcing him to think and act quickly and decisively. And usually recklessly.

Iron sheik

More dastardly than the Iron Sheik. Really!

Wheatley likes to give us full explanations for the reasoning process the protagonist follows before deciding a course of action. It’s really quite strange to read two pages of cogitation before Day decides to throw down his rifle and surrender to an Italian tank formation, or to kidnap a Nazi agent and stage a hunger strike from his prison cell. It’s also odd how random and unexpected his stories’ reversals are. Modern books have a habit of moving in predictable directions as the plot narrows it’s focus. Wheatley will patiently set up a dynamic that leads us to expect that and then just flips the table with a new event that wrecks all former plans.

There are some unintentionally hilarious passages too. This is a favourite, as Day infiltrates a small Archaeological Society in Athens used as a front for Nazi spying:

‘Here,” I said, thrusting out the basket. ‘Hold this a minute, will you? I’ve just trodden on a nail.’
Grudgingly he took the basket from me, thereby rendering himself temporarily powerless to use his hands in his own defence. Immediately he was supporting the full weight of it I drew back my right fist and gave him a terrific swipe under the jaw.
That is not a nice thing to do to an inoffensive person, but this fellow was a German.

Take that, Fritz!

If you like Wheatley, or like WWII adventure stories with a focus on spying over combat then this is easy to recommend. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the pace never let up.

If you like reading stories of international adventure then just hold tight until volume three of my memoir comes out, very soon.

[1] A despicable lying leftist cunt
[2] The Cuckoo’s Calling. Even though it reviewed well, like most books it flopped on release. Before the secret came out that JKR had written it, it sold less than Daygame Mastery in the same timespan. (I think).
[3] It ended November 1940 and thus no way this book was written with it’s result known.
[4] The baddies are either French, German or Spanish every time. Can’t trust those countries now, can you?

2 Comments

  1. Hey Nick, I just started my journey today. Thanks for still having this blog open. [Good luck. K.]

  2. I have a renewed appreciation for these posts.

    You’re actually working on your game, on your Intellectual Mastery, and bringing sense to your world.

    And readers who will absorb even some of this, if their style of game is not too different from yours, will benefit a lot. [That’s the difference between people who think, and the retard “bullet point tips” crowd. K.]

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: