“Between one luckless general and the next there is a fleck of fable in history’s eye called Kimball Bent.”
What a fleck and what a fable! Frontier tales don’t come much wilder or woolier than this rollicking, riveting story of Kimball Bent, born in Eastport, Maine, and dragooned into Her Majesty’s army in the middle of the last century. Sent off to subdue the restless Maori in distant New Zealand, Bent finds himself at the wrong end of too many court-martials and deserts his regiment, becoming the unlikely hero and chief strategist of a Maori band that fights the British to a standstill in what proves to be the bloodiest and most terrifying of the colonial wars.
Most remarkable is that this story is true. Titokowaru and his fierce and feuding lieutenants did humble the English armies that had been sent to snatch their land, and they were led by this slightly befuddled Yankee, who was fighting (and mostly winning) the American Revolution all over the far side of the globe.
And Bent lives on in New Zealand, where parents still caution their children not to go out alone into the woods or “you’ll be caught by Kimball Bent.”
In Shadbolt’s hands, this fierce and memorable narrative has the stuff of greatness. His themes are large and timeless, and he again proves himself to be one of the world’s greatest storytellers. He provides here a tale rich in humanity, a narrative both true and absurd, marked by epigrammatic repartee and comic misadventures. For sheer storytelling, wild adventure, and astringent power, there are few books that equal Monday’s Warriors.