Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The Red Leaguers, by Shan F. Bullock

Second paragraph of third chapter:
No; they were real. Out in Armoy, Christy even then was busying his Napoleonic self in sober daylight, was shaving maybe, or eating his breakfast, or driving in the cows; and Moran was there in his Sunday clothes, and Pat, and Ned, and all the rest; and the hills there beyond the window were the hills I had trod last night, the hills in which more than stones lay buried, the hills which soon would echo the tramp of the Armoy commando.
Another book that I picked up from the Interwebs thanks to Jack Fennell's Short Guide to Irish Science Fiction. His summary of it there is a bit misleading; he wrote it up in much more accurate detail in his longer monograph on Irish SF. It's a pretty awful book. James "Red" Shaw, a middle-class Protestant veteran of the Boer War, returns to Fermanagh around 1904 (when the book was published), and is co-opted as commander of the local Nationalist militia, changing sides partly because the Protestant girl he loves is in love with another man. The national uprising is successful and a revolutionary Republican government takes power in Dublin and across most of the island; but Ulster descends into sectarian violence, with Shaw and his Red Leaguers taking it out on his own co-religionists locally. A lot of this was eerily reminiscent of more recent times in the Balkans. The narrator gets to Dublin with the girl (who remains unimpressed and terrified) but sees social cohesion disintegrating under a lazy and corrupt administration. As the Great Powers (Britain, Germany and the USA) prepare to invade Ireland to restore order, he makes his escape to France.

The protagonist is such an unpleasant character - presiding over ethnic cleansing and monstrously intimidating the unfortunate Leah - that it's difficult to engage with the book. It's a little redeemed by considering the wider picture: the author was based in London, and wrote a number of novels with the same Fermanagh setting as The Red Leaguers (but without the revolution timeline) in which the protagonist, clearly based on himself, is the chap who Leah is really in love with. So perhaps Shaw is the romantic but wrong side of his personality, seduced by revolutionary ideals. It's still not a great vindication.
Tags: bookblog 2017, world: ireland

  • The Sixth Sense

    The Sixth Sense won the first Nebula Award for Best Script for 22 years, after the original Star Wars in 1978. The other 1999 finalists were The…

  • The Return of the Discontinued Man, by Mark Hodder

    Second paragraph of third chapter: The king's agent stood, now a Knight of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.I…

  • Zodiac Station, by Tom Harper

    Second paragraph of third chapter: I was always a solitary child. Back then, those white deserts at the top of the globe fired my sense of adventure.…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.