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The Last Horseman by David Gilman

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This adventurous, thrilling historical novel has at its core the Boer War, one not featured much in fiction, and spans various countries’ histories. The protagonists are Joseph Radcliffe, an American Civil War veteran, a lawyer who married an Irish woman, came to Dublin and who defends Fenians, and his friend and fellow veteran Benjamin Pierce, who is black. The accidental death of their elder son caused Radcliffe’s wife to lose her mind, and when their younger one runs off to the war in South Africa, to prove himself, Radcliffe and Pierce pursue him to bring him home. The South African maelstrom is well presented, especially the brutality of the conflict between British and Boer and the pitiful situation of the native Africans. The compassionate characters, willing to help regardless of who they are dealing with, stand out in this unforgiving world, and the novel ends on a message of hope: although a great man can never be replaced when he dies, “because of his greatness, love shall always follow him”.