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Great Reviews

'War, politics and tragedy test the foundations of a lifelong friendship ... a thrilling story of loyalty and betrayal, forged in the heat of a war in which there would ultimately be no winners" - Bruce Dennill, The Citizen

"Cranswick's love and deep respect for nature is obvious in his admirable descriptions of the beautiful Zimbabwean bushveld and wildlife. He highlights a number of actions which were an important part of the Rhodesian bush war campaign. However, the real strength of this compelling story lies in its hope that good will eventually derive from the chaos that predominates in this country at present. It is a hope we all share" - General John Hickman
(former Commander Rhodesian Army)

"I could not stop reading this in-depth story; it was fascinating to read of those incredible incidents that actually happened. Blood Lily sends a clear message to all people on this continent that we should not allow our leaders to dictate and feed propaganda to the masses. It is a book that we can all relate to and it will touch your heart when you recognise what a great place Africa can become if only we communicate with and respect all cultures. Blood Lily brings back so many memories, both happy and sad. An enjoyable and easy read, I could not put it down. Thank you for allowing me to rekindle all those years in that wonderful piece of land called Zimbabwe" - Ray Mordt (former Springbok and Rhodesian winger)

Editing client Mason Cranswick has published his novel Blood Lily with 30 Degrees South and what a cracking read it is. A tale of boxing and redemption that crosses between the current financial crisis and the war for independence in Zimbabwe, this novel takes an unflinching look at that country’s troubled past and blighted present. Blood Lily is a must for anyone who is interested in men at war and men in the ring. Bruce Denhill at the Citizen says “Cranswick’s epic story of two feuding friends plays out like a Jeffery Archer drama” while General John Hickman (former Commander of the Rhodesian Army) says “The real strength of this compelling story lies in the hope that good will eventually derive from the chaos that predominates in this country at present.”Exclusive Books have made Blood Lily one of their four Book Club Choices for December. - Ron Irwin, Literary Consultant

This is an outstanding novel. I literally couldn't put the book down and read it cover to cover in two days! Beautifully and sensitively written, an incredible story of friendship, through loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Very unexpected twists kept me riveted and some of the raids & fighting scenes were so exciting that I literally felt my heart racing! It crosses continents and decades and educated me about an era in African history that I confess I knew very little about. I cannot recommend this novel enough. Review: By Mrs T.C Steel

Brilliant read!!...As a New Zealander, reading this book, gives fantastic insight into Zim's history - but in an entertaining, gripping manner... can't wait for the sequel!!
Review: By Peter Hart

The minute I opened the package and saw this book I knew I was in for a treat. In fact, three of the previous reviewers were all known to me for their military and sporting prowess. You can't get much better than the former head of the Rhodesian Army, the ex-CO of the Selous Scouts and a bloke who was one of the best players the Springboks ever had, all of them saying, that this is a great book. I really started to think I was not worthy to review it.

But Mr Cranswick has written a cracker, a tale of high finance, love, friendship, betrayal, rugby, boxing, and the Rhodesian bush war. He has managed to wind his story around historical facts in a brilliant way. This is the story of a country; Rhodesia as it becomes Zimbabwe and the lives of two young men. One the son of a white farmer, the other a black son of the farmer’s servant.

The Blood Lily is a flower which blooms for 3 months each year and represent optimism and hope, which is the theme for the book.

Banker Scott Carter is in trouble; he works for International Bankers Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis is just taking off. He is on the verge of losing everything he has worked years for. When suddenly, he receives a gift from his past.

The book then takes you back to his childhood then on to service in the Rhodesian Special Air Service during the bush war in the 1970s. It gives good descriptions of actual operations carried out by the SAS Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Cranswick has ensured that the battle scenes are accurate and reflect actual incidents from the war. It also gives a fantastic insight into the relationships between the Black African and the White rulers of the country and the complete screw up that it became under the rule of Mugabe.

But for a little artistic license with silenced firearms this is a must read book. Mason Cranswick is very, very good; Wilbur Smith will have to watch his back!
Army Rumour Service
(The British Army’s Unofficial Community) 4.5 out of 5

"Blood Lily" is the story of Bruce, Conway, Scott, and Simba, four young men ready to take on the world. Mason Cranswick takes the reader back to the 1970's to a time when Zimbabwe was a respected contributor to African culture.

The Rhodesian War left the country devastated and still divided. A nation in which a minority ruled a majority population became a country ruled by terror, greed, and carnage under the rule of Robert Mugabe.

Cranswick captures the beauty of the Zimbabwe's vegetation and wildlife. He brilliantly reveals insights into the bonding and friendship discovered in boyhood, the loyalty of friendship developed in the midst of battle, the competitive drive for winning, and the self destruction of personal revenge.

Detailed descriptions are given of the meticulous repetition of SAS beret training, the briefing sessions, and the risk of the enemies' reaction to diversionary attacks.

The symbolism of the "Blood Lily," reflections seen in the mirrored water, dreams, premonitions, and memories all play a part in carrying out the drama, action, suspense, and romantic aura of Cranswick's sensitive writing.

I personally enjoyed Cranswick's literary style and his underlying compassion, in the midst of graphic descriptions of battle, torture, and death. On occasion I found I had to backtrack in my reading to determine the timeline, and some difficulty in sorting out the reality of the plot with the dreams and back-flashes. I enjoyed the choice of word usages of African/ English expressions which added to the local flavor of the story.

The author was born and raised in Zimbabwe, has an MBA degree from Cambridge University, a degree in commerce from Rhodes University in South Africa, as well as a career in investment banking with assignments in Tokyo, London, New York, and Singapore which adds credibility to the many facets of the background and plot twists of this complex story.

This is a book for the history buff that enjoys the fast pace of battle scenes a realistic look at the political impact on a country's economy, culture, and future, as well as the sensitivity of interpreting individual differences, in abilities and opportunities. "Blood Lily" is a gripping story with a lingering sense of wonderment.
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (08/10)

Cranswick's fast moving novel is gripping and passionate. He brilliantly describes a nation of wonderful people, with great courage, enduring decades of turmoil.
Review: Amazon UK

Fast paced adventure story that weaves the story of young people growing up in Rhodesia under UDI into some of the key events of the era. It covers time honoured themes: friendship, love, the transition from boyhood to adulthood, betrayal and ultimately reconciliation. The personal relationships reflecting some of the key political and social narratives that spanned the latter half of the 20th Century in Africa. It is a great story well told, and provides texture to a part of recent history that is in danger of being overlooked.
Review: Amazon UK

The fictional relationship at the core of Cranswick's "Blood Lily" is between two boys born in Rhodesia, one the son of a white farmer and the other that of a black domestic worker on the same farm. For those of us that had our formative years in Southern Africa, this relationship and how it evolves as part of, and in response to the great pressures of the time, makes for a compelling and evocative story. The two boys grow up together as best of friends, with the black servant and her son regarded as part of the wider family circle on the white man's farm. But therein lies the problem in this relationship and the wider society of Rhodesia, as such a paternal outlook fails to provide the basis for true equality and shared aspiration for all the country's people. Cranswick's story takes us through the years of civil war in Rhodesia into the tragedy of life today in Zimbabwe, and there is plenty of excitment and drama to keep one engaged, in what is ultimately a story of betrayal, redemption and Africa's endurance despite the folly of man. Hence the opening dedication in the book, "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the Earth abideth for ever... (Ecclesiastes 1.4)".
Review: Amazon UK

Excellent book. Couldn't put it down. Great story telling and a great overview of an often overlooked chapter of Africa's history.
Review: Amazon US

Rivetting read, a novel that you just can't put down. A sad, emotive, but ultimately uplifting and informative account of the bloody Rhodesian war. A must read !
George Walmsley

The South African Newspaper, London:

Author Mason Cranswick talks about his new novel, Blood Lily, a tale which examines friendship, genocide and regeneration in Zimbabwe and war-time Rhodesia.

The story of Mugabe’s rise to power and the history of Zimbabwe prior to his rule are little-known tales, but it is this aspect of the country’s past that Zimbabwean-born Mason Cranswick has chosen to focus on in his recently-released novel, Blood Lily. Set in Rhodesia, the novel follows the journey of Scott, from his childhood on a farm in rural Zimbabwe to his days fighting in the Rhodesian army against Mugabe’s revolutionaries. By his side, throughout this journey, is his friend Simba, but the war between the Rhodesian government and the local revolutionaries means that the two friends must choose sides. The result is a tale of “treachery, war and genocide, love and friendship, and ultimately of hope and regeneration.”

The 1970s in Zimbabwe were a “fascinating time” For Cranswick, Zimbabwe’s
pre-independence history presented an exciting setting for his first novel. “The whole Rhodesian war and everything that evolved around it was a fascinating time in the country’s history and made up a big part of the country’s history,” says Cranswick. “The book was partly inspired by a trip back to Zimbabwe and to two of the farms I’d grown up on, in the area where the book is set. One of the farms was in complete ruin – litter everywhere, the house was burnt down – and then we went over to the other farm and it had been empty since the 1980s and the bush had just completely taken over. The bush was going through the house – it was completely wild and untouched – so that gave me the idea that whatever happens, the land will always come through and prevail.” It’s a theme that runs through the novel – that of the transitory nature of war and decay and the permanence of the land. The theme is evident through Cranswick’s beautifully detailed descriptions of the Zimbabwean countryside, which underscore his obvious love for the country and its wildlife. “The Zimbabwean bush is very beautiful and unique, as are the Zimbabwean people, so I felt a lot of nostalgia in writing it.” And, says Cranswick, that connection between Zimbabwe’s people and its landscape is partly why the story resonates with those who have left the country: “It is authentic; people can identify with the bush and how they felt and thought in those days.”

Authenticity says Cranswick, was important as he crafted the book – the places and events needed to withstand the scrutiny of those who read the book and have first-hand knowledge of them. “Many of the military scenes were taken from actual raids that took place and I made a point of making it very accurate so that if anyone reading it was involved in those incidents, they would identify completely with it,” says Cranswick. Besides its authenticity, a notable aspect of the book is that Cranswick makes sure to present a balanced account from both camps in the war. “That was critical because for me it really needed to show the perspective from both sides,” says Cranswick. “I think it’s very important for people, in looking at that era in history, to see a balanced view so that they can appreciate both sides and get a better and stronger insight into the era by doing so.” “First and foremost, it’s an exciting read”

While the novel is factually inspired, historically inclined and well-balanced, it is first and foremost an exciting tale of war and friendship, drawing heavily on Cranswick’s life and interests, particularly that of boxing, which features heavily in the storyline. The excitement level maintained throughout the book means it is an equally good read for those who have no connection to Zimbabwe. “It’s a very exciting, riveting story. The feel from the feedback that I’ve received from people abroad, people in the UK, is that they have enjoyed it first and foremost because it’s an exciting read.”

“The story itself is fictional but it’s set in terms of real events. For example, one of the climaxes in the book is the fight scene where one the main characters collapses at the end of the fight and it turns out that he fell after the bell. I’ve taken that from a personal experience – I’ve had the exact same thing happen. A lot of things like that were taken from personal experience.” Despite the fact that the novel deals with the atrocities of a war-time era, Cranswick maintains a note of hope throughout the book and the promise of regeneration for Zimbabwe. “There’s an underlying optimism that in all ways it will get better,” he says, and that optimism also played a part in the naming of the book.

“The blood lily was really important because it represented new life and, at the end, hope. The blood lily blooms three months of the year, and they’re beautiful. They represent a real optimism and hope, and they were symbolic throughout the book.”

"The fundamentally positive message of the book has led Cranswick to donate part of its proceeds to Zimbabwean charities (see charity section)"
Lindy Timm, the South African newspaper

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