Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Spoils by Brian van Reet - A tremendous achievement



Cassandra, a female soldier operates a 50-calibre machine gun atop a poorly equipped Humvee patrolling the streets of Bagdad shortly after the American invasion of Iraq. Despite warnings of an ambush and with little armour on their vehicle to protect them from improvised explosive devices, they continue up a street where they are attacked by mujahedeen militia.
Abu Al-Hool would be one of those militia. Originally part of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, he and his cronies have moved their operations to Iraq where they can face their American enemy directly. Having lost his one and only son in Chechnya, Abu feels little reason to live and therefore, acts only on a commitment to his faith.
As a member of the tank crew, responsible for responding to the distress call from Cassandra’s Humvee, Sleed must also be, at least partially responsible for the subsequent capture of Cassandra and her two comrades. When Sleed and the other tank operators should have been racing the scene of the IED explosion, all three had been attempting to open a safe they’d found in a badly damaged portion of Saddam Hussein’s palace considered out-of-bounds for army personnel.
Intense hardly defines the novel “Spoils” however that’s how I felt after completing the last page. Satisfying? Maybe not. In a war where none of the combatants originate from the country of conflict, how can it be? It’s the ultimate proxy war. Is that how people are finding meaning nowadays? In abstractions? Truly, a tremendous achievement.