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I had been looking forward to reaching this for some time, under the impression that it was an interesting step away from Kipling's usual writing. Not sure if that is really true - it was his first novel, so not sure if it can really be characterised as a step away. And it is interesting only in places; the hero's failure to get anywhere with the girl he loves is apparently painfully autobiographical, and the casual brutality is not very pleasant to read. However, I was really grabbed by Kipling's sympathetic portrayal of his hero as an artist, not a protagonist I had expected from this author (which shows how little I knew), and of course the central drama of his going blind is then very effective. (I guess that Florence Barclay's The Rosary may have been in part a response to The Light That Failed; well, Kipling's version is actually better and mercifully shorter.)

The other point of interest for me (and a few other people) is that quite a lot of the novel revolves around British attitudes to Sudan, and the final chapter is set there (indeed the referencs are specifically to "Southern Sudan", though a glance at the map indicates that they did not actually get very far south). It's interesting to read about a place which I know for quite different reasons through the rather shortsighted and blurred imperialist lens.

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