Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book Review: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres has created a quite unusual novel here which is essentially about the battle between a corrupt military and the increasing opposition from simple villagers and forest dwellers. There is, however, much more in this book than that, with a multitude of characters who must deal with such upheavals as kidnap, death of loved ones and violence. In fact one of the weaknesses of this book is the fact that it deals with so many themes and characters that none of them are properly explored and the simple plot becomes lost among them.

Having said this, I did laugh out loud a number of times at the author's sardonic humour and he does an excellent job of giving the reader a satirical look at the machinations of the military regime. One character that is well developed is the army captain who accidentally becomes a torturer, rapist, kidnapper and murderer in his attempt to complete his job efficiently - a real insight into how people become part of an oppressive regime.

Towards the end of this story all sorts of weird things begin to happen, a plague of magical cats being the most notable, and the reader will either delight in this or despise it. The author does, though, bring all his characters together at the end when all who oppose the military flee to the forest in order to escape repercussions for their defiance of the army.

This is an interesting book with some great ideas and good humour although at times I was on the verge of putting it down, particularly throughout the slow beginning. I would recommend this book to readers who like a degree of insight and philosophical themes in their reading but for those just after a riveting story this is not the book to read.

Score: 7/10

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