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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 12 (March 2, 1936)


“A Trader in Cannibal Lands,” by James Cowan (A. H. & A. W. Reed, Dunedin and Wellington) tells of the life and adventures of Captain Tapsell. The author states in his introduction that the book is “a memoir of a boldly dramatic figure in New Zealand's history, is an authentic Odyssey of sea-roving and shore-trading adventure.” Tapsell was born in Denmark and took to the sea at an early age, going through many adventures for a period of thirty years. For the succeeding forty years he was a trader among the Maoris. He died in New Zealand over sixty years ago at the great age of ninety-four. Mr. Cowan has lived up to the great material at his disposal and has given us an outstanding volume. The book, which is illustrated, has been nicely turned out by the publishers.

“Hurricane,” by Vance Palmer (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a fine story of adventure in Papua. Vance Palmer is one of Australia's best writers, and he has written a gripping novel of the adventures of a likeable human character, one Faulkner, who becomes resident magistrate of one of the wildest districts in Papua. Old Cameron and his daughter are two strongly portrayed characters who exert a tremendous influence in bringing about the “official failure” of the R.M. There is a touch of Conrad in the pen power displayed by the author in describing the hurricane that leads to the ultimate undoing of Faulkner.

“Aces & Kings,” by L. W. Sutherland (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a thrilling account of the work of the R.F.C. in Palestine during the War. The author has an original chatty style that somehow conveys a powerful picture of the stirring adventures of himself and his gallant associates. His chapter on Lawrence of Arabia is full of interest. Referring to Lawrence's physical fitness the author states: “He was piano wire, whipcord and eel—and he had a split second brain.” This is another Australian war book that will live. The illustrations are interesting.

“King's Blood,” by Lieut.-Col. W. P. Drury (Rich & Cowan, London; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.), is a stirring tale of love and adventure during the reign of Queen Anne. The hero has a royal legacy “the bend sinister,” the main theme of the plot being based on the fact that as an infant he changes cradles with a prospective hereditary maniac. The book contains many enthralling happenings (storming the Rock of Gibraltar, pacing the quarter deck with Admiral Byng) in addition to a sweetly told love story. A splendid week-end novel.

“John O’ the Green,” by Jeffry Farnol (Sampson Low; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd), is a charming romance of olden times when another, and possibly more appealing Robin Hood, took on himself a great mission to save several of his companions and himself from the halter. How he succeeded and became the paramount influence in the life of the beautiful Ippolita of Pelynt makes a story that will appeal to everyone. John is a complex lovable personality —a man of arms so that he might be a man of peace. The book is rich in colourful romance and with Farnol as the designing artist the picture is an all satisfying one.

“And Then Came Spring,” by Anne Hepple (Hutchinson, London; N.Z. agents, Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.), is an unusual novel. The elfish, Espeth Isabel Douglas, is the central figure. Because she runs away from her impossible aunts to live in a quaint cottage offered to her by a friend, she meets with a host of adventures which although of a minor variety, are none the less interesting. Around her adventurings is the beauty of a dawning spring and the more potent beauty of the mutual love of herself and Luke. I would not flatter Anne Hepple by describing her as a feminine Le Gallienne, but she certainly has some of his capacity for finely woven romance.

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