At the end of The Burning Shore, Centaine de Thiry Courtney ruthlessly rejected her second son, thrusting him into the arms of his father Lothar de la Rey, who named him Manfred. The seeds of bitterness sown at that time bear fruit in this novel. Lothar's fishing company operating off South West Africa has just landed a catch that could save it from bankruptcy in the hard times of the early 1930s, but Centaine as head of the powerful Courtney finance company mercilessly withdraws crucial support and Lothar is once more ruined, adrift. Resolving to avenge his loss, he sets out to steal a valuable consignment of diamonds from Centaine on the road out from her diamond mine. He succeeds and early breaks the company, but the theft has desperate consequences. For Centaine pursues him across the desert and finally catches him, delivering him, maimed and bitter to the courtroom and imprisonment. His son Manfred, not knowing that Centaine is his mother, cannot forgive her or her family for this.
Manfred is now taken in and educated by his uncle, a powerful Afrikaner churchman. Meanwhile Centaine's firstborn son, Shasa Courtney, is growing up as a rich and successful young man in Cape Town's political circles. Both boys go to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 where Manfred wins a gold as champion boxer, but then, while Shasa flies in combat for the Allies in Ethiopia, Manfred trains in Germany as a saboteur, with the intention of returning home to realise his dream of an Afrikaner dominated South Africa. Invalided out of the war, it then becomes Shasa's job to track down these saboteurs and when he engages in a single-handed fight with 'White Sword', the code name of the man who tries to assassinate Jan Smuts, he little knows that he is looking into the yellow-flecked eyes of his own brother. It is only at the end, when Manfred threatens blackmail to ruin Shasa's chances in the 1948 elections in which they are opposing candidates, that Centaine informs Manfred of the truth about his birth.
This compelling story of the antagonism between Shasa and Manfred who do not know they are half-brothers but whose lives seem inextricably interlocked, reflects the deepening division between South Africans of Afrikaner and British origin, which characterised South African history of the period. It also introduces a new element in the character of Moses Gama, at the beginning an employee in Centaine's diamond mine. Moses becomes a powerful orator in the cause of South Africa's black population and already shows signs of emerging as the impassioned African leader he will be as a major character in Rage, which follows. Power of the Sword is the second book in the second Courtney sequence of novels.
Original title: Power of the Sword
Genre: Fiction→ Adventure→ Wild Frontiers And Exotic Lands