Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Tour & #Giveaway for The Anglo-Zulu War by James Mace

Welcome to my stop on the Book Tour, presented by Silver Dagger Book Tours, for The Anglo-Zulu War series by James Mace.  Please leave a comment or question for James to let him know you stopped by.  You may enter his tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!

Brutal Valour: The Tragedy of Isandlwana
by James Mace
The Anglo-Zulu War, Book 1 
Legionary Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
505 pages

**These books contain graphic violence and language not suitable for younger audiences or sensitive readers!**

It is December 1878, and war looms on the horizon in South Africa. British High Commissioner Sir Henry Bartle-Frere seeks to dismantle the powerful neighbouring kingdom of the Zulus and uses an incursion along the disputed border as his justification for war. He issues an impossible ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, demanding he disband his armies and pay massive reparations. With a heavy heart, the king prepares his nation for war against their former allies.

Leading the invasion is Lieutenant General Sir Frederic Thesiger, Baron Chelmsford, a highly experienced officer fresh off a decisive triumph over the neighbouring Xhosa tribes. He and Frere are convinced that a quick victory over the Zulus will negate any repercussions from the home government for launching what is, in essence, an illegal war.

Recently arrived to South Africa are newly-recruited Privates Arthur Wilkinson and Richard Lowe; members of C Company, 1/24th Regiment of Foot under the venerable Captain Reginald Younghusband. Eager for adventure, they are prepared to do their duty both for the Empire and for their friends. As Frere’s ultimatum expires, the army of British redcoats and allied African auxiliaries crosses the uMzinyathi River at Rorke’s Drift into Zululand. Ten days later, the British and Zulus will meet their destiny at the base of a mountain called Isandlwana.

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Chapter XIX: By God, We’ve Found Them

Mabaso Hill, nine miles northeast of Isandlwana
22 January 1879
11.30 a.m.
Natal Native Horsemen

The two officers leading Zikhali Horse rode together out of the camp. Their troopers acted as a single entity, at least until they got as far north as Mkwene Hill. Durnford had informed Charlie Raw that a company of NNC were on picquet duty at the hill and he was to round them up and take them with him if needed. Captain George Shepstone accompanied Raw, though for the time being deferred all tactical decisions to the troop’s commander.

It was a basic, yet tactically sound plan Durnford had briefed his officers on. Raw and Roberts would head due north and skirt across the ridgelines until they reached Mabaso. Durnford would take the remaining two troops in an arc veering east and then northeast. Any Zulus would be caught between them, and the column commander hoped to capture a few and gather what intelligence he could about the main impi. As the directive from Chelmsford, requiring the camp be moved to Mangeni Gorge, had yet to reach Isandlwana, no one from either Durnford’s or Pulleine’s command had any knowledge of how the fight in the east was progressing.

“The enemy is retiring, and I intend to follow them up,” the colonel had told his men. About three miles from the camp, well past the first conical koppie and beyond another hill called Itusi, they spotted several small bands of Zulus who immediately fled at the sight of the mounted troopers.

“If they are going towards the General, we must stop them at all hazards!” Durnford stressed to his men who took off in pursuit.

As Charlie Raw’s troop reached Mkwene Hill, he came upon the NNC picquet. To his left he saw the redcoats of E Company, 1/24th, scattered among the rocks on high ground. Raw relayed Durnford’s order to the NNC commander, informing him that they were to join him and provide support. Without question, partly due to the relief of a bit of action rather than the continued tedium of picquet duty, the NNC warriors quickly complied.

Lieutenant Roberts’ troop pressed further north before veering east, keeping along a ridge which looked down on the Ngwebeni River to the north. As they advanced east, towards Mabaso Hill, both officers deployed their troops into echelons. The NNC followed not far behind Raw. The terrain was extremely rugged, only allowing for their horses to run at a modest canter. The ground rose and fell, broken up by the occasional donga; however, the troops were separated by less than a mile, and their officers made certain they stayed on line with each other. Neither had any sort of visual contact with Colonel Durnford, who was two to three miles to the south of them, hidden by a series of ridges and hilltops. Fortunately, the Mabaso Hill stood out starkly against the skyline, dominating the landscape. For Lieutenant Roberts, it was simply a matter of following the Ngwebeni River, which wrapped around the north side of the hill. At the same time, Charlie Raw led his troop straight towards the mountain’s pinnacle.

There were small bands of Zulus, no more than four or five in each group, roaming about. These men were foragers, bringing food back in the way of mealie and stray cattle for their friends. Raw, like Durnford, understood the value of gathering intelligence from enemy combatants, and these were the first Zulu men of fighting age they had seen since the attack on Sihayo’s kraal.

“Emva kwabo!” he shouted, ordering his men to chase after the Zulus.

Their quarry abandoned the cattle and were sprinting across the rough terrain, skirting the north side of the mountain. The numerous crevices and rocks prevented the Zikhali horses from overtaking them. Raw veered his troop back to the right, once he realised that Roberts and his men were about to run straight into them. Leading his men from the front, he managed to sprint his horse the remaining distance, keeping just to the right of the Mabaso peak. He reached a long ridge that extended about a mile from end-to-end, and with eyes wide he reined his horse to an abrupt halt. Below the ridge, reaching back to the Ngwebeni River, was a massive bowl. What lay within filled him with alarm and dread. 

“Oh, fuck,” he whispered, his voice suddenly hoarse.

The entire ground from the base of the ridge all the way back to the river was black with the massed horde of Zulu warriors. At least twenty thousand men lay encamped along the slopes and down by the river. As Captain Shepstone, Lieutenant Roberts, and the lead elements of their troops reached the ridge, Charlie Raw had an overwhelming and terrifying realisation. Lord Chelmsford had been chasing shadows this whole time. The main Zulu impi was not east of Mangeni but here, nine miles northeast of Isandlwana.

“By God,” Raw said. “We’ve found them.”

For Ntshingwayo and the main Zulu army, their day of rest was proving to be filled with misfortune. The phases of the moon were not right just yet, and to go into battle this day was an ill omen that would undoubtedly offend the divines. He was determined to attack on the morrow, when the omens were more favourable, and after they had a better understanding as to their enemy’s strength and disposition.

All morning they heard gunfire echoing, and like the British at Isandlwana, they struggled to ascertain where it was coming from. Like Pulleine and Melvill, the Zulu inkosi thought perhaps it was coming from the British forces to the north. He later ascertained that it was in fact coming from the east. He then realised, with much guilt, that Matshana must have proven loyal, and he was now being savaged by a raiding party from the enemy column.

From the minute they made camp near the Ngwebeni River, the Zulu general knew, though he did not intend to fight on this ill-omened day, he needed to conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the ground in and leading up to the enemy camp at Isandlwana. Unfortunately, neither he nor any of his men had ever purchased field glasses from the white traders. Even from the top of Mabaso, they could not see any details of the British encampment, just the white splotch where some of their tents lay.

Ntshingwayo knew coordinating such a massive army would be a gargantuan undertaking, and he had thought to get at least some of the amabutho in position. Given the alarm caused at the enemy camp, he was now having doubts as to the wisdom in sending the regiments of the ‘Right Horn’ west in an effort to get behind Isandlwana. He knew it was a practical move, but one riddled with risk. Even under Mkhosana’s venerable leadership, the younger warriors were still prone to errors. Foremost was advancing along the tops of the ridgelines, exposing themselves to the enemy’s picquets. 

Unbeknownst to Colonel Pulleine and the camp’s defenders, the warriors they spotted were not a lost band of raiders nor refugees fleeing from Colonel Wood’s column. They were, in fact, the ‘Right Horn’ of the Zulu impi.

There had been much excitement since the return of the advance elements of the uNokhenke and uKhandempemvu regiments. Word spread rapidly, and the blood-lusted warriors were anxious to attack the camp, ill omens be damned! Ntshingwayo was having none of it, for he did not wish to offend the spirits of those protecting them. By late morning he called an immediate council with the senior amakhosi. The regimental izinduna were tasked with calming their men and not allowing passion to overtake them.

It was proving especially difficult for Kwanele to curtail his warriors’ enthusiasm. They had taken part in the excursion to the west, before being ordered back to their bivouac. He was thankful his fighters hadn’t inadvertently exposed themselves to the whites at Isandlwana, like some of those fools from the uKhandempemvu. However, there was now a growing sense of anxiousness. During the past few days, they had made the journey of more than sixty miles, including a rather arduous trek across the mountaintops to the northeast of Isandlwana. The last thing they wanted now was to wait to attack the enemy, when they were so close.

“We saw them,” one man said in disbelief. “We actually saw them!”

“My blade thirsts for their blood,” another snarled, hefting his broad stabbing spear.

“I will feed my club with the brains of our enemies,” another chanted, brandishing his knobkerrie.

“Easy, my brothers.” Kwanele tried to calm them, despite feeling the same growing sense of wrath as his warriors. “Soon our weapons will feast on the corpses they have made, but we do not strike until the great inkosi tells us to…”

His words were cut short. One of his men stood, shouting and pointing his spear towards the southern slope of the bowl. They and most of the uNokhenke were resting barely two hundred yards from where a long line of horsemen emerged. They were mostly black Africans. They were dressed like the whites and led by white officers. 

Within seconds the valley echoed with the sound of a hundred carbines firing. A man not thirty feet from Kwanele screamed as the heavy slug smashed into his upper chest near the shoulder. Blood sprayed his friends and he fell to the earth, clutching at the terrible wound, with bits of splintered bone protruding through the bloodied skin. Several others had fallen nearby. Kwanele saw the top of one poor young warrior’s head explode. The bullet entered just in front of his temple, then burst out the top of his head, disgorging a horrific spray of bone and brain.

The induna’s heart sank. These men were his brothers. Together they had taken part in the eight day ritual that purified the mind and spirit. Their bodies and minds were supposedly shielded by the magic of the izinyanga and the spirits of their ancestors. Yet now, with every salvo from the troopers atop the ridge, these brave men were being brutally killed or badly maimed. It was another terrible omen for the Zulu impi.

Knowing they could no longer wait for orders, bands of warriors began storming the southern slope of the bowl. Those nearest with muskets returned fire. Savagery filled the air in an overwhelming surge of energy and fury.

A man from Mehlokazulu’s regiment shouted, “Lolu usuku yenkosi! This is the Day of the King!”

Whether either side wished for it or not, the Battle of Isandlwana had begun.

Crucible of Honour: The Battle of Rorke’s Drift
The Anglo-Zulu War, Book 2
420 pages

**These books contain graphic violence and language not suitable for younger audiences or sensitive readers!**

It is January of 1879. While three columns of British soldiers and their African allies cross the uMzinyathi River to commence the invasion of the Zulu Kingdom, a handful of redcoats from B Company, 2/24th Regiment are left to guard the centre column’s supply depot at Rorke's Drift.

On the morning of 22 January, the main camp at Isandlwana, just ten miles to the east, comes under attack from the entire Zulu army and is utterly destroyed. Four thousand warriors from King Cetshwayo’s elite Undi Corps remained in reserve and were denied any chance to take part in the fighting. Led by Prince Dabulamanzi, they disobey the king’s orders and cross into British Natal, seeking their share in triumph and spoils. They soon converge on Rorke’s Drift; an easy prize, with its paltry force of 150 redcoats to be readily swept aside.

Upon hearing of the disaster at Isandlwana, and with retreat impossible, the tiny British garrison readies to receive the coming onslaught. Leading them is Lieutenant John Chard, a newly-arrived engineer officer with no actual combat experience. Aiding him is B Company’s previously undistinguished officer commanding, Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, along with 24-year old Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne, and a retired soldier-turned civilian volunteer named James Dalton.

Unbeknownst to either the British or the Zulus, half of the centre column, under Lord Chelmsford’s direct command, was not even at Isandlwana, but fifteen miles further east, at Mangeni Falls. However, with a huge Zulu force of over twenty-thousand warriors between them and the drift, their ammunition and ration stores taken or destroyed, and an impossible distance to cover, Chelmsford’s battered column cannot possibly come to the depot’s aid, and must look to their own survival. The defenders of Rorke’s Drift stand alone.

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James Mace is a life-long historian and the author of twenty books, including seven Ancient History best-sellers, and two South African History best-sellers. He penned the initial draft of his first novel, "Soldier of Rome: The Legionary", as a cathartic means of escapism while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. His works span numerous eras, from Ancient Rome to the British Empire.

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  1. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on thet tour and I hope it is a fun one for you :)

  2. Congrats on the tour and thank you for the book description and giveaway.