After a short and bloody war on foreign soil, the Expeditionary Army of Ashkent is preparing to return home. Captain Jon Forge and his company, however, are assigned one more task – to oversee a workforce of enslaved Bantusai tribesmen as rebuild a remote and long-abandoned bridge. With construction already underway, a band of fleeing trappers brings news of a fast-approaching barbarian horde and the Captain quickly realises that his de facto commander, the devious Duke Burns, has sent him and his men into a deadly trap.
Should the company stay or retreat? Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them, Forge - ever the hard-headed professional soldier - decides to stay. With the help of a motley crew that includes the enigmatic Bantusai, the wily trappers, and a lacklustre wizard-cum-bureaucrat named Portal, the Captain and his men hastily set about rebuilding the dilapidated fort next to the bridge and prepare to make a stand. Their doom, it seems, is inescapable: their redoubt - a patched-up tower house - will surely be their tomb...
Redoubt is a rip-roaring fantasy adventure from former Royal Engineer officer Alexander Janaway. In the style of Steven Erikson and Glen Cook, this tale bursts at the seams with action and camaraderie, all the time using a wonderfully wry sense of humour.
The themes of betrayal and vengeance centre on the character of Captain Jon Forge; a likeable, grizzled veteran whose command are also his family. The memorable Sergeant Mac, contemptible Lieutenant Locke and wonderful Bantusai are amongst a strong supporting cast in a book that cleverly shows that there is a big difference between civilisation and civility.
The Bantusai, who are reminiscent of an African tribe, provide the major fantasy moments in Redoubt and are without doubt the highlight. They have special powers that allow them to work wood to their will and the excerpt below helps illustrate Captain Forge's first impression of these mystical beings:
“Forge looked over and could see where a Bantusai was standing as if he were trying to push the tree down. Now that he was still and quiet he could hear a faint murmuring coming from the black man. He leaned closer and could discern a definite musical lilt to the noise. The man was moving his hands slowly up and down the bark of the trunk as he sang.
The soldier leaned close to Forge. 'Watch this, Sir. It's amazin',' he whispered.”
Redoubt: Chapter 8
Redoubt offers a fascinating insight into the inner machinations of an army company and Janaway is able to draw on his extensive experience (operational tours in Kosovo and the Middle East) to make the characters both believable and realistic. The soldiers are but pawns in a game of chess, played out by others - there is always a sense that something is going on but the author shrewdly keeps the reader in the dark – and the tension builds while the reader begins to really empathise with the characters.
This is a very enjoyable and stimulating read; the pages pass by at a rate of knots and the reader will quickly find himself or herself immersed in the perfectly appropriate no-nonsense narrative. The locations are described well and the detail used allows a good sense of place.
Alexander Janaway's Redoubt is a cracking fantasy adventure featuring a strong plot and well-realised characters and locations. The pieces fit together like dovetail-joints and the plain-speaking narrative fits the story perfectly. Recommended.
Alexander S Janaway is a former officer with the Royal Engineers and during his time in active service took part in operational tours in Kosovo and the Middle East. He has a bachelor's degree in English and American literature as well as a Master's Degree in the Psychology of Work. Today he works as training and project manager in the computer games industry. Redoubt is his first novel and he is currently working on his second.
Review by Floresiensis
4 positive reader review(s) for Redoubt
Gus from Cambridge
Started slowly for me but once I got to Chapter 3, I couldn't put the book down. Really enjoyed it.
Mike from Epping
I loved this book, will definitely be buying any further works from by this exciting new author! A rating of 10 was awarded.
Samuel from UK
Any armchair general will love this. Alex's experience in the military really shows itself with his matter of fact portrayal of the logistics, preparation and tactics of war. It gives this story a real foundation of authenticity that is hard to find in other fantasies. Interesting characters, exciting battles and an intense finale makes this a great read.
Guy from Saffron Walden
Exciting, immersive and a refreshingly realistic take on the fantasy genre. The narrative triggers your imagination with ease and envelopes you in a fantasy world where the action is explosive and detailed in a way that could only be achieved through actual experience. A healthy dose of humour added into the mix maintains the gritty "realness" of war but makes this book a friendly portal to an exciting world and satisfying story.
8.7/10 from 5 reviews