Author: Recy Dunn

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ISBN: 978-1-61296-182-8

To fully appreciate Recy Dunn's most recent poignant novel, Circle of Time, readers should first refer to some important events in South Africa's history. The first of which is the the British seizure of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806 forcing many of the Boers to form their own republics. The second pertains to the Boers defeating more than 10,000 Zulu warriors in 1838. They believed that white predominance over Blacks was God's own will. Next is the discovery of diamonds and gold that created great wealth but at the same time led to intensified subjugation of the native inhabitants. Then there was the Anglo-Zulu War fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. This latter event was quite important in the time-line of imperialism in the region and eventually resulted in a British victory and ended  the Zulu nation's independence. Finally, in the twentieth century we have racial segregation or Apartheid that was enforced through legislation by the National Party governments that ruled from 1948 to 1994. The rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy was maintained creating an inhospitable place for the blacks to live.

Within the context of this historical background, Dunn builds his fictional story of police lieutenant Jan Linden of Johannesburg, South Africa whose father is killed in a bomb blast. Linden strongly believes that there is a conspiracy as well as a link between African tribes and Apartheid. As each day passes, he is convinced that a terrorist group from the African National Congress (ANC) is the culprit. Linden vows that whatever it takes he will find his father's killers. What is more, and according to Linden,  money, if properly used and placed into the hands of the right people is the key to any terrorist campaign  that  can result in a successful revolt.

Linden devotes thirty-eight years of sweat, torment and frustration in trying to track down his father's killers as well as to prove the existence of a plot that will have crucial ramifications pertaining to South Africa. During his obsessive chase, he loses the respect of his peers, the killing of the only woman he truly loved, and becomes addicted to alcohol. He also finds himself one step behind a dangerous secret society known as the Circle  whose  rallying cry  is “sacrifice, service, and suffering.” The organization  is made up of diverse powerful chieftains from eight major tribes in South Africa. Their leader is an elderly man known as “Umbiki” or the messenger who has an apocalyptic view of the future.  Thrown into Dunn's yarn are Zulu warriors, spears, a strange legend and mysterious notes filled with riddles that are written in a Zulu dialect that pop up every so often and prior to the inexplicable death of someone close to Linden. 

The members of the group agree that they will join forces to defeat Apartheid and they resolve that their first-born sons will be planted in the USA where they will study economics, science, banking, monetary policies, its military system and to understand its foreign policy as well as international affairs.

The messenger's duty will be to watch over each child while they are growing up to make sure their developments are carefully nourished. When the time is ripe, the eight sons with the knowledge they acquired in the USA will return to South Africa to lead the Black population to victory over Apartheid.

The novel's action is spread over several countries including South Africa, Russia, Britain, the USA and even my home town of Montréal, Canada. And  every time Linden comes close to a source, either the person dies a horrible death or somehow the evidence is destroyed.

Dunn has the gift of a great story-teller and cleverly evokes time and place, although I would have preferred he stuck with the actual names of the Montréal landmarks rather than change them. On another note, I noticed there was an attempt to infuse some French words and phrases into the storyline, which unfortunately at times were quite comical as they were direct translations from the English. Perhaps, someone who is familiar with the French language should have been employed to edit them. Nonetheless, apart from these shortcomings, the novel grows, deepens and shifts as the story progresses. Dunn is quite ambitious and is not afraid to take chances as he demonstrates a convincing knowledge of South African history and culture.

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Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Recy Dunn