Buchan doesn't change the western front he actually only refers to it, rather than showing it us , but posits a German-Ottoman conspiracy to set up a Muslim messiah not a spoiler; occurs early on. That draws on actual German attempts, which never bore fruit. Buchan lets us imagine they could. We also get an all too rare glimpse of the eastern front, as Russia invades Anatolia. The novel's finale takes place in the battle of Erzurum , and I can't think of a fictional representation of this struggle. Russians appear as serious, even noble, a far cry from the usual British perception of a clumsy, collapsing army being ground to death by Prussians.
Indeed, one of the weirder scenes has Hannay, ah, view spoiler [meeting the Kaiser. Wilhelm appears as a sympathetic man, not the callous and not-too-bright warlord of usual British discussion. A flicker of a smile passed over the worn face. It was the face of one who slept little and whose thoughts rode him like a nightmare The last I saw of him was a figure moving like a sleep-walker, with no spring in his step, amid his tall suite. I felt that I was looking on at a far bigger tragedy than any I had seen in action.
Here was one that had loosed Hell, and the furies of Hell had got hold of him. He was no common man, for in his presence I felt an attraction which was not merely the mastery of one used to command.
That would not have impressed me, for I had never owned a master. But here was a human being who, unlike Stumm and his kind, had the power of laying himself alongside other men. That was the irony of it. Stumm would not have cared a tinker's curse for all the massacres in history. But this man, the chief of a nation of Stumms, paid the price in war for the gifts that had made him successful in peace. He had imagination and nerves, and the one was white hot and the others were quivering. I would not have been in his shoes for the throne of the Universe That's an enormous act of sympathy for Hannay, since he just came from the western front and clearly hates the Germans.
One of the German villains, a ferocious and imposing bully, turns out to have an effeminate side in a somewhat erotic and scary passage. Another turns out to be a femme fatale of sorts, who terrorizes the band of heroes simply by existing. And our heroes possess a disturbing fatalism about impending death. Other notes We get to spend time with a character only mentioned in 39 Steps. There are references to the failure of Gallipoli, handled carefully.
A very silly yet effective American character entertains and, I think, suffers from the gut troubles that gnawed the author, and with which I sympathize. The end is tremendous. We get epic action, thunderous war, the whole world balanced in the scales, our heroes in the middle of things. And then It's Sandy, I think, and he appears in the last paragraphs like something from Dune : In the very front, now nearing the city ramparts, was one man.
He was like the point of the steel spear soon to be driven home. In the clear morning air I could see that he did not wear the uniform of the invaders. He was turbaned and rode like one possessed, and against the snow I caught the dark sheen of emerald. As he rode it seemed that the fleeing Turks were stricken still, and sank by the roadside with eyes strained after his unheeding figure Then I knew that the prophecy had been true, and that their prophet had not failed them. The long-looked for revelation had come. Greenmantle had appeared at last to an awaiting people.
Now history breaks wide open, as the Muslim world can be swept by a charismatic religious and war leader. How Middle Eastern history could have changed. Dig into Greenmantle for a wild ride that offers an unusual take on the First World War. This is great work--the writing is personal and emotional, and yet it's formula is spy novel, Conan DOyle in the mystery but with added depth because it's about Turkey and the East and will give you insight into World War I in Europe.
It's also remarkably prescient, written before the end of that war, about a band of Allied sympathizers who are spies impersonating at one point or another virtually every possible brand German and German sympathizer. This material and the exciting and well drawn b This is great work--the writing is personal and emotional, and yet it's formula is spy novel, Conan DOyle in the mystery but with added depth because it's about Turkey and the East and will give you insight into World War I in Europe.
This material and the exciting and well drawn but not too excessively over the top narrative of unlikely escapes and murderous Germanic brown-bread eaters--all that makes this book really fun. But for me what notched it up just one more level was the voice and diction of the narrator. I wish I had the book in front of me to quote, but I don't, so you'll have to believe me that the tangents into narrative-reflection are often gorgeously composed and lulling, and effective and affective because they build sympathy for our soul-searching and senstitive narrator.
That said, I was struck by a naivete to the work, which seems to me odd and incongruous, because war is war. But in the end I found there to be something quaint and even innocent about the treatment of the subject of danger in this pre WW 2 account. It is as if, as the history books do really say, the world didn't actually know evil yet, didn't know real terror. So, there is one incongrous scene where our endangered and intrepid heroes find themselves imprisoned in a Turkish dungeon, dark and dank and with no place to piss or shit but the corner.
It's a startling fast forward to the consciousness of the present, as if Buchan has conceived of and has given a glimpse of a sort of brutality and fear that would not become part of mainstream consciousness until long after, or at least until the HOlocaust. Prescient is a word often used to descrive Buchan's work he wrote The 39 steps as well.
I'd say he's a writer who elevates genre writing from that time through emnotion and a willingness to see bald faced what in other hands is merely trite and candied up. View 1 comment. Sep 30, John Frankham rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction.
Greenmantle by John Buchan | Waterstones
What a splendid adventure story and more. Richard Hannay in on a top mission to foil a plot to create a holy war in the Muslim world, to draw troops from the Western Front, and to help Germany win the war. Hannay must track down the mysterious prophet who holds the key to everything - Greenmantle. Greenmantle demonstrates Buchan's exemplary storytelling ability and political insight. Therefore a treasure for children and adults. Jan 23, Cathy rated it really liked it Shelves: buchan-of-the-month , classics. Recovering from injuries sustained at the Battle of Loos, Richard Hannay is charged by Sir Walter Bullivant with investigating rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world.
It seems the Germans plan to use religion to help them win the war by causing Britain and its allies to divert troops from the Western Front. Hannay reluctantly accepts the case seeing it as a diversion from his true role leading his troops on the front line. The action of the book moves from wartime Germany to Asia Minor as Ha Recovering from injuries sustained at the Battle of Loos, Richard Hannay is charged by Sir Walter Bullivant with investigating rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world.
The action of the book moves from wartime Germany to Asia Minor as Hannay and his comrades seek to disrupt the plot. This involves a perilous journey through enemy territory to meet up with his friend, Sandy Arbuthnot, in Constantinople. Hannay and his other companions Peter Pienaar and John S. Blenkiron, have to outwit some formidable foes, including the thuggish Ulric von Stumm, Turkish army officer Rasta Bey and the charismatic but malevolent, Hilda von Einem.
However, there are also elements of real life events. It all comes to a climax in a vividly described battle scene, again inspired by actual events in the First World War. Compared to the hectic pace and implausible coincidences of The Thirty-nine Steps , Greenmantle , the second volume of the Richard Hannay trilogy, is more than a Boy's Own adventure tale.
Buchan, it turns out, can really write. I was entertained by his deft turns of phrase. Even when the plot whirled away in yet another chase scene, Buchan's language Stylistically, Greenmantle is sort Compared to the hectic pace and implausible coincidences of The Thirty-nine Steps , Greenmantle , the second volume of the Richard Hannay trilogy, is more than a Boy's Own adventure tale.
Stylistically, Greenmantle is sort of like reading Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom but without all the metaphysical mumbo jumbo and excruciating detail. For an old tyme spy thriller, it's hard to beat. Apr 15, DeAnna Knippling rated it liked it Shelves: topcrime-novels-cwa. An involved plot that drags spy Hannay across half of Europe and into Turkey, with one identity after another. This was too much convolution out on a limb, not enough grounding the reader in what was going on, an ending that comes out of nowhere, and a lot of scenes where I was expected to react in a certain way, because, dammit, that's the way all right-thinking white Britishers act in the early part of the twentieth century.
It didn't age well and is quite sexist and racist. I was more annoyed An involved plot that drags spy Hannay across half of Europe and into Turkey, with one identity after another.
I was more annoyed with the "just go with it" attitude through the whole book. It feels like even the readers at the time might have had questions about why such-and-such a thing was important or relevant. Jan 30, Richard Milton rated it it was amazing.
I am a book thief. My copy of Greenmantle, now tattered, its spine weak from years of rereading, and its faded red cloth cover falling apart at the hinges, still has the book plate of my school library. I borrowed the book and loved it so much, I never returned it. More than fifty years later, I still cherish it too much to part with. Over the years my habit has been to read compulsively, bingeing on stories and authors I love; reading and rereading them, obsessed as any addict in a smoke-filled Limehouse den. But Greenmantle has remained my opiate of choice during a lifetime of literary addictions — the book I return to so that I can relive the thrill of my first adventure story.
But there is much, much more to this little book than merely teenage love, and much more to its author, as I want now to tell. First, the story itself. Intrepid spy and soldier Richard Hannay is convalescing in London in after a major battle in Flanders. Now, the spymaster he encountered in that earlier book, Sir Walter Bullivant, sends for Hannay and asks again for his help. The enemy is once more the German secret service, but this time, they are even more devilishly cunning in their planning, and the stakes are even higher.
To help him, Hannay has a small dedicated band. There is his old friend Sandy Arbuthnot, an experienced Arabist, linguist and master of disguise who can disappear as easily into the backstreets of Berlin as into a Turkish bazaar. And there is a dyspeptic American businessman, John S. Blenkiron who can travel innocently as a neutral. Each has his adventures and brushes with danger, which form the tapestry of the story. Those dangers include a ruthless and mysterious femme fatale, German masterspy Hilda von Einem, and her bulldog aide Colonel Ulrich von Stumm.
Hannay is perhaps the earliest prototype of James Bond — the secret agent whose loyalty is to his country. There are no wasted words. But he was also capable of infusing poetry into even the most mundane description. When Hanny is being briefed on his mission by Sir Walter at the Foreign Office, for instance:- Sir Walter had lowered his voice and was speaking very slow and distinct. I could hear the rain dripping from the eaves of the window, and far off the hoot of taxis in Whitehall. That tiny, deft detail, the trivial impatience of taxi drivers who know nothing of great secrets and great affairs of state, still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as I eavesdrop on the two men in their high office.
Again, such writing may be commonplace today but in it was one of the sources of the kind of terse, fast-moving prose that later journalists like Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming were to use so effectively. But there is even more to marvel at here. Because Buchan wrote Greenmantle specifically because he had been asked by Charles Masterman, a Liberal MP who was head of the secret British War Propaganda Bureau to produce a book, paid for at government expense, as part of the propaganda war against Germany.
Disguised as a disaffected Boer named Cornelius Brandt, Hannay is taken in tow by Colonel von Stumm, a caricature German officer with bullet head, thick neck and monocle as well as the regulation arrogant bullying manner. Hannay is taken upstairs by von Stumm to his private apartment. Here Buchan sets up a scene clearly intended to tell readers who could read between the lines that the vile von Stumm is secretly nothing less than an effeminate homosexual.
It was the room of a man who had a passion for frippery, who had a perverted taste for soft delicate things. It was the complement to his bluff brutality. I began to see the queer other side to my host, that evil side which gossip had spoken of as not unknown in the German army.
Hannay soon shows this German pansy how decent English chaps respond to that sort of beastly behaviour by punching him on the nose and escaping. At another point in the story Hannay, in disguise, is travelling through wartime Germany and just happens to meet the Kaiser, to whom he is introduced. Hannay tells us; The last I saw of him was a figure moving like a sleep-walker, with no spring in his step, amid his tall suite.
I would not have been in his shoes for the throne of the Universe. Buchan is most often criticised today for the coincidences he employs as plotting devices. Yet he anticipated this criticism in the foreword to Greenmantle where he wrote of his tale; Let no man or woman call its events improbable. The war has driven that word from our vocabulary, and melodrama has become the prosiest realism. Things unimagined before happen daily to our friends by sea and land.
Buchan was able to write Greenmantle with some authority because he was himself both a soldier and a spymaster. By the end of the War he was head of the War Propaganda Bureau. He was also a director of his own publishing company, Nelsons, and as an editor he originated the idea of the weekly part-work again paid for by the government on the First World War. For modern thriller audiences there is plenty of more sophisticated fare available — Forsyth, Clancy, Ludlum.
But there is a freshness, an originality, and a magic in Greenmantle that no modern writer quite has. I will not be returning my copy. I am still a book thief. A fun adventure story with a memorable hero! I loved this second installment in the Richard Hannay series and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of "Mr.
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Highly recommended. Jun 05, Frankie rated it liked it Shelves: british. Buchan's Hannay is a clear precursor to Fleming's Bond, with the one major exception forced by a more innocent time and readership - Hannay is no womanizer. As an espionage novel it's quite good and an enjoyable read. It's written broadly for all ages, certainly simple enough to be understood by an entire generation of British boys who would probably later serve in WWII.
Buchan wrote five Hannay books the first is The Thirty-Nine Steps and this is the second as what he called 'his contribution Buchan's Hannay is a clear precursor to Fleming's Bond, with the one major exception forced by a more innocent time and readership - Hannay is no womanizer. Buchan wrote five Hannay books the first is The Thirty-Nine Steps and this is the second as what he called 'his contribution to the war effort'. It goes without saying that some historical accuracy as well as violence is muted. Buchan writes adventure, so you must try to forgive him the numerous plot coincidences, nationalistic stereotypes and chauvinism.
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WWI Europe was, especially for Britain, a time of fair play - in a manner of speaking. Germans were considered bad guys but only in a sporting, war-game sort of way. Perhaps the second war would've been less harrowing if the Germans had not been laughed at so heartily. The Muslim world of the book is treated lightly, though words like fatwa and jihad are bound to prick up any contemporary reader's ear.
I hoped to gain some knowledge of the early 20th century Arab world, but there is little in the way of exposition aside from standard spy lingo. I suppose it's better to be uninformed than ill informed. I found it curious that the character Hilda is so vilified throughout the novel, yet fails to live up to her supposed villainy. Hannay and his spy buddies, established heroes on the European front, consider Germans to be of little challenge, so it's significant that their residence in Constantinople and Anatolia is fraught with unprepared-for dangers.
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Greenmantle John Buchan. Poems of Thomas Hardy Thomas Hardy. The Beetle a Mystery Richard Marsh. His first success as an author came with Prester John in , followed by a series of adventure thrillers, or 'shockers' as he called them, all characterized by their authentically rendered backgrounds, romantic characters, their atmosphere of expectancy and world-wide conspiracies, and the author's own enthusiasm.
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