|Angels Weep, the (1984) [Novel]|
by Wilbur Smith
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It is the mid 1890s and the pioneer Rhodesians now feel secure enough to stake their mineral claims and stock their farms. Robyn Codrington, as passionate an upholder of African rights as ever, continues her research into tropical diseases at the Khami mission hospital. Her daughter Cathy is married to the increasingly prosperous Ralph Ballantyne, eldest son of Zouga, and now another daughter married Ralph's close friend Harry Mellow.
But the brilliant wedding scene, illuminated with comedy as Robyn spars with her old foe Rhodes, gives a false impression of joyful stability. For in the hills, Bazo and his Matabele Indians are preparing for bloody rebellion. Only Juba, Bazo's mother, the Matabele girl whom Robyn saved from the wreck of the slave dhow in A Falcon Flies, still feels agonisingly divided in her loyalty as the moment approaches. The Matabele oracle has made three prophecies, and with the departure of Jameson with his 600 riders on his famous and disastrous raid, the third one is fulfilled. The Matabele rise and devastate the land in any orgy of murder. The hated Mungo St John is cut down, Cathy, Ralph's pregnant wife, butchered. Ralph's impatience with the tribesmen now becomes burning and unquenchable hatred. He is merciless in his suppression of the Matabele rising. In a chilling scene he kills the man who has been its inspiration, his childhood friend Bazo. The Matabelc are for the time being subordinated.
Part One of his novel foreshadows the events of the second part which is set in the 1970s when Rhodesia again falls into the grip of racial violence. The terrorist tactics initiated by Bazo have now been developed. Now the terrorists bear firearms and are organised into deadly commando groups. Roland Ballantyne, Ralph's great-grandson is a highly trained soldier in command of the famed 'Ballantyne Scouts' formed to fight them - which he does with the same skill, arrogance and aggressive self-confidence as his tough ancestor. Craig Mellow, his cousin, descendant of Robyn's daughter and Harry Mellow, is a gentler person, driven reluctantly into a painful war where he faces as an enemy his one-time friend and colleague, a descendant of Bazo, who is now transformed into a terrorist, named Tungata. Tungata's mission is to kill Roland, scourge of the 'terrs', and he lures him into a trap by attacking and raping his new wife Janine, also beloved of Craig. Tungata is successful. Roland is killed, Craig is maimed, losing a leg, and Janine ... It is some time before the deep wounds of war heal and she and Craig escape the newly constituted Zimbabwe to find happiness together.
The Angels Weep is about the way the seeds of hatred sown in battles fought round issues of land and race will germinate and produce anew ugly sprouts of the same tragic stock. An exciting, colourful and moving novel in both its parts, it is the third of the Ballantyne sequence of four novels.