Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 10. July 15, 1954
Book Review . . . — "The Feared and the Fearless"
Book Review . . .
"The Feared and the Fearless"
The fact that Guthrie Wilson, New Zealand's most successful contemporary novelist, is a graduate of Vic, and the controversy regarding his place in this country's literary scene, makes his latest novel one of particular interest to us. I confidently expect that it will resolve the doubts entertained by some New Zealand critics, who felt that with "Brave Company" the author had exhausted his inventive capacity. This manifestation of insular inferiority (a malady to which New Zealanders are notoriously prone) caused them to seize on the traces of self-consciousness evident in the second novel, "Julian Ware", as support of their contention—while ignoring the outstanding qualities it possessed.
It should now be evident that "Julian Ware" represented a transitional singe in the author's development from an extremely gifted observer of vivid and moving personal experience to a polished writer of tense and exciting fiction. With the "Feared and the Fearless." the transformation is all but complete. Here is the gemus of characterisation which was the hallmark of "Brave Company." and with it is a powerfully controlled and developed plot.
The novel is dominated by a magnificently drawn character, Captain Markham Falkner who is the leader of a small guerrilla unit fighting the Fascist! in the mountains of Italy during the last war. Feared equally by the Italian peasants, who called him II Brutto (Scarface), the Fscisti and the men of his own unit, he conducts the campaign with emotionless brutality and seeming indestructibility. His almost legendary stature attracts an American girl. Maria Cresswell who becomes his mistress, but she is soon repelled by his killings and seeks to get away from him before it is too late. Max Stuart. Brutto's second in command, contrives her escape and endeavors to protect her when Brutto follows them. . .
In outline the book seems cheap and melodramatic, but the subtlety and perception with which the author portrays his characters, the graphic and unbearably tense description of the battle scenes and the pursuit, together with touches of grim humour and piquant observation, make Mr. Wilson's latest novel a memorable and exciting piece of writing which should greatly enhance his already considerable reputation.