About The Lion and Leopard Trilogy of historical novels

'The Lion and the Leopard' is a trilogy of historical novels set in Africa.

The first novel, 'The Settler' was published in March 2012, and has now sold over 10,000 copies. It's about loves and wars in the cauldron of Southern Africa in 1890-1902, where a young Englishman and his American companion become accidental soldiers. Can they survive the vicious fighting between settlers and African tribesmen, and between British and Boer armies? Which of four pioneering young women will they choose to share their challeges?

'The Settler' in Amazon.com

The second novel, 'Lake of Slaves', was published in June 2014. “In the 1880s the Lake Nyasa area of central Africa is devastated by Arab slave traders and raids by Angoni warriors. Livingstone's 'Lake of Stars' has become a 'Lake of Slaves'. Alan Spaight is among a handful of British men fighting the slavers. After a year as a trader he starts a coffee plantation, while torn between the enticement of his doctor’s wife and his neighbour’s attractive daughter. He is drawn repeatedly into conflicts with the slavers, in company with mission-educated Goodwill, a former slave who escaped to return to his village. A new Consul, Harry Johnston, brings in British officers and Sikh soldiers in 1891, and the tide turns. After another five years of bitter fighting the slave trade is finally destroyed.”

The third and last novel in the trilogy, 'The Lion and the Leopard', is set in the area round Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika during the 1914-18 War. The 'Lion' in the title is the badge of the British South Africa Police (BSAP), the paramilitary force in Rhodesia. The 'Leopard' in the title is the Nyasaland Volunteer Reserve (NVR). Both outfits served with distinction in the First World War. I served in both of them, many years later!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

'Lake of Slaves'

The second novel in my Lion and Leopard Trilogy is 'Lake of Slaves', set in Nyasaland in 1887-1895. It was published this month on Kindle. The paperback edition will follow. In the 1880s the area around Lake Nyasa is being devastated by Arab slave traders and raids by Angoni tribesmen (descendants of the Zulus). Livingstone's 'Lake of Stars' had become a 'Lake of Slaves'. Into this desolate scene come a handful of British administrators and traders, who fight – initially without success - against the slavers. Alan Spaight arrives in Nyasaland in 1887 and becomes embroiled in the fighting. He becomes a coffee planter, but his military experience and commitment to combat slavery draw him into the conflicts. He is helped by mission-educated Goodwill, a former slave, who escaped to return to his village. In 1891 the new Consul Harry Johnston, brings British officers and a contingent of Sikh soldiers, and the tide slowly turns. It takes another five years of bitter fighting, but the slave trade is finally destroyed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

In my previous post I estimated that sales of The Settler might reach 2,000 by the end of 2012. This landmark was reached - on December 29 sales were 2,006. The estimate for the end of 2013 is about 15,000 copies, but there are so many variables that will affect sales, such as the price I select, the competition, and the overall economic environment. I've changed the price for the Kindle version on Amazon, raising it to $1.99. I wish I knew more about the price elasticity of demand - a concept that I learned about as a student of economics! I guess trial and error will prevail. There's lots of competition. Most of it is in the genre of recent Rhodesian historical fiction - say, the last 50 years. The Settler is set in 1890-1902, where there is less competition. The grand master of this niche is Wilbur Smith, but I don't profess to compete with him! How about the economic environment? Fortunately, people will always read books. They may read more ebooks than tactile hardcovers or paperbacks, but reading novels is here to stay.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A landmark!

On November 17, 2012, or about then, 'The Settler' passed the 1,000 mark in sales. At this accelerating rate it should reach 2,000 by the end of 2012. Most of the sales have been through Kindle, where the novel is ranked high on searches for books set in Africa. I hope that this winter I'll be able to devote more time to marketing. Thanks to my readers for downloading the book - I hope you enjoyed it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A new review on Amazon

This review appeared recently on Amazon.co.uk: "I started reading this book, thinking it was a completely fictional story. It was only as I was going through it, I began to recognise names of people, dates, places etc. It appears to be based on an actual family history, turned into a novel. It was completely gripping reading, whilst extending understanding of what life was actually like in the early settler days. Thoroughly recommended! I'll be looking for more books by the same author!" I'm most grateful to the reviewer, and glad he enjoyed the book!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review in IndieReader

The following review appeared today in the Ezine 'IndieReader': Verdict: The Settler is an engaging and authentic work of historical fiction. It is also suspenseful up to the last page. Oxford graduate Martin Russell could land a job of his choice in London. But remaining in England is the last thing on his mind. Before he started university, Martin served with the British Army in India. His sense of adventure is piqued by that experience and later by a speech he hears at Oxford given by Cecil Rhodes: There is a land of imaginable space, of unfound riches, unexplored, waiting for men like you. Go there. See for yourselves. Martin pictures a peaceful life as a pioneer and farmer. Before he departs for Cape Town, a family friend asks him to accompany his nephew—a young American named Perry Davenport—to South Africa and then up to Rhodesia. Perry is to check out business opportunities for an uncle who runs gold mines. The two men embark not only on a monumental journey, but also on a life-long rivalry involving women and opposite sides of a war. Brian Duncan elegantly weaves the story of Martin and Perry against the backdrop of the Matabele War in 1983, the Mashonaland Rebellion in 1986, and the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. Duncan scatters Afrikaans words throughout the story, and creates characters that are life-like and sympathetic, no matter their flaws. History buffs will enjoy how Duncan gives supporting appearances to historical figures such as Winston Churchill and Mohandas Gandhi, as well as the commanders of the Boer and British armies. Parts of the novel are graphic and disturbing, but that is to be expected with stories set during war. The Settler is an engaging and authentic work of historical fiction. It is also suspenseful up to the last page.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sales are encouraging

On Sunday, when Kindle report sales, The Settler passed the 800 sales mark - 831 to be precise. This means that 1,000 is feasible by the end of the year. Thanks to my readers - I hope you enjoy the book!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sales report: end of October 2012

Sales of The Settler on Kindle climbed again at the end of October. They now average 16 a day, combining both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. At this rate my target of 1,000 sales by the end of the year is feasible. Thank you readers - I hope you are enjoying the novel!