AJ Brooks’ The Border is a strange bird, a novel set against the 1966-1989 Border War. Not much is now written about that conflict for reasons of political correctness and while this is undoubtedly not the only novel set against that conflict, it certainly is one of the few penned in recent times.
The central character is a Corporal Geoffrey Kent, a section leader doing his national service, as far as it can be discerned, with 4 SA Infantry at Eenhana. The anti-hero is a People`s Liberation Army of Namibia guerrilla named John Mulemba, aka "Grootvoet. The story starts with Mulemba and his unit launching an attack on a white farmstead in the Tsumeb area.
It is refreshing in a work of fiction to find attention to detail. Although the author has taken some liberties make his plot work, his description of military tactics and equipment is largely accurate as is his use of unit nomenclature.
A number of plot lines are however not explained. Mulemba is depicted somewhat unsympathetically and more importantly, his motivations are left somewhat unexplored, particularly why the farmstead concerned was chosen for attack and why it was necessary to return to it to finish the job. Some of his other actions are also not properly explained.
Also not explained are the treasonous activities of a brother and sister. The sister plays a sideshow role in the plot and the brother is mentioned in passing. Even so, their actions should be explained if the plot is to be taken seriously. It is possible that their motivations were better explored draft versions of the book that may have been deleted from the published version for the sake of brevity. If that is the case, it is a pity for these loose ends and others somewhat undermined at least this readers` appreciation of what is otherwise an enjoyable and surprisingly readable yarn.
300 South Publishers
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