Really liked it
One Arab thoroughbred, one Aboriginal Australian soldier, and one mute Bedouin girl stumbling around in the desert with their fates, songlines and djinn inextricably linked.
A mesmerising tale with spiritual elements, more of long short story than novel.
I read it in one sitting, not putting it down until I'd finished. The start was awkward and not up to the standard of the main body of the tale, but the rest was fantastic, apart from the fact that I would have preferred that the dangerous circumstances they were both in hadn’t been solved by purely spiritual means – it left me feeling unfulfilled…
By Garth Petterson October 26, 2017
I loved it. Dennis Ogden has an uncluttered, lyrical style of writing I find very appealing. His descriptions of the desert are perfectly understated, with the focus being on the characters and the story. Saving Spade has an inspired set up: an uprooted Australian aboriginal horseman in North Africa just after the end of the Great War, who deserts from the military to save his horse. He crosses paths with a mute Arab girl who needs the horse to escape her demons. At some point the story begins to walk the border into fantasy as the mythologies of aboriginal Australia, Arabia, and India collide. By this time the reader has bonded with the two central characters, or three, as the horse, Spade's abilities become known. Saving Spade is a unique, engaging tale with enough magic to be told around a campfire under a star-filled night sky.
By Jane Suen September 17, 2017
Lewis Dunbar has raised Spade from birth, from the moment this pure-blood Arabian foal was born into his arms. Upon turning eighteen, Lewis, the son of a Scottish father, Magnus Dunbar and Aborigine mother, Jippa Nampijinpa, rushes to enlist in the Australian Second Light Horse Brigade in 1916, crossing the oceans with Spade to fight WWI battles across the harsh Arabian deserts.
With the war ending in February 1919, Private Lewis Dunbar fears he would be sent back home without Spade. Worse, he hears rumors of the fate of horses…that they will be pulling a plough, butchered for food, or shot and skinned for leather.
Leaving Spade after facing death together so many times was unacceptable, and Lewis plans their escape from camp that night. However, A’isha the mute Bedouin girl, thwarts his plans and escapes the camp riding on Spade, with three parcels of her talisman to protect her from the evil Djinn spirits of the desert.
Dennis Ogden skillfully spins a tale that takes you into the harshness of the desert, the searing heat of the merciless sun, the shifting sand and sandstorms, the shimmering haze, the raging thirst and cracked lips. The three of them face not only the desert and human threats, but spirits and other forces…culminating in a fight for survival in a war of a different kind.
By Nicholas Blekason August 16, 2017
Saving Spade is an original tale about the protagonist's fight to save the horse he went to battle with in WWI. The horse is also one he's known his whole life, but will be left in Arabian Desert now that the war is over. He has no other option to ensure the horses safety but to desert and that survival story when he does is the focus of the story. There is a bunch the story does well. The characters are believable and it feels researched--though I wouldn't know either way, personally. By the ending in particular the tension is high since it's been built up pretty well. I also liked the fantasy elements sprinkled in.
While I felt the suspense aspect mostly toward the end, I did struggle with the build to get there feeling a bit slow. This and some editing hiccups here and there put this book at a solid 3.5, so I rounded up to 4 for the things I did like.
Overall, Saving Spade is an uplifting novel that anyone with a bond to any pet, not just horses, could enjoy and appreciate!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Saving Spade. Thanks Dennis Ogden for the book :). I'd recommend the book to any lovers of horses and to readers who like a bit of a fantasy twist. To those who have a connection with their own horses there are many parts of the story that will ring true to you. It really made me wonder about what happened to all those horses after WWI. The characters are believable and the story is an insightful description of how some of the nomads in the region lived their lives. Didn't take long to read and I found it difficult to put down.
I am very grateful for being selected to receive an advanced copy, and a personal thank you and signature from the author, of Saving Spade by Dennis Ogden.
Saving Spade is story of loyalty, beliefs, and heartbreak. The story is set right after World War 1 ended in the Arabian dessert. The main character, Lewis Dunbar, an Australian Aboriginal and his loyal horse, Spade, are overjoyed that they can fight the war together in the Light Horse Brigade in the Arabian Desserts.
After battling for 2 years it has now come to the point where the troopers are to be sent home WITHOUT their beloved horses. Lewis cannot fathom the thought of leaving Spade behind, after all they have been through and the relationship that has blossomed to be nothing other than pure love and respect for each other. Lewis must come up with a plan to avoid the inevitable. He must escape with Spade, and make a new life together.
Lewis is about to execute his plan, when A'isha, a mute Bedouin girl who believes she has been held captive by horrible soldiers, steals Spade in order to save herself. Watching from afar, Lewis is astounded. How can someone steal Spade? He cannot allow this to happen! Lewis must rescue Spade.
Encountering blistering heat across the desert, Saving Spade is narrated by Lewis himself, and A'isha. We get an insight into both of their incredibly different backgrounds, their beliefs and morals. Allowing their ancestors to help guide their way in the right direction, they do encounter unfortunate threats along the way to their destiny - though their true paths will prevail.
Saving Spade excellently captures the love between a man and his loyal companion through very testing times. I recommend anyone who loves Historical Fiction to read this beautifully written story.
By Brenda Telfordon, June 21, 2017
When Aboriginal Trooper Lewis Dunbar heard the news that their loyal, battle weary partners in war – their beloved horses – were to remain behind when the Australian Lighthorse troops returned home after two years fighting in the Sinai desert, he was shattered. He’d raised Spade from a foal back home in outback Queensland; they were best friends, never separated. And it wasn’t going to happen now. He was prepared to desert the army and escape with Spade – they would find a new life together.
But his plans were foiled when the army’s prisoner - a young mute Bedouin girl – escaped in the dead of night by stealing Spade. Lewis saw her go and immediately began tracking Spade through the vast desert on foot. During his journey he called on his Dreamtime spirits to keep him safe; his avoidance of the army trailing him was second nature – but would he be able to catch up to Spade and the girl?
A'isha missed her family desperately and had no idea how to find them – but she hoped her talisman would keep her safe. Could she summon the spirit of the Djinn? She wasn’t sure of her powers – her youth meant they were mostly unexplored…
What would happen to these two young people in the vast and cruel Arabian desert? And would Lewis be reunited with his beloved Spade?
Saving Spade by Aussie author Dennis Ogden was a wonderful, highly original story that I absolutely loved! Filled with hope and heartbreak, loyalty and kindred spirits, the novel is well written; covering two different cultures it shows how the two can entwine with ease. I have no hesitation in recommending Saving Spade highly.
A Great Read
by Kate, Brisbane
An exciting read from the start with plenty of action, a cast of characters of very different origins and motivations set against a background of diverse beliefs and the influence of strange supernatural forces. But overall there is the overarching (and very moving) story of the deep bond between a young man and his horse. A great read.
By Cathy on July 14, 2017
I enjoyed this book very much!!
I could not put it down, read it quickly into the night!!
Beautifully written and very sensitive of other cultures and beliefs
Great we'll done!!
Can't wait for the next one!!
Marga Ruiter June 2017 Holland
I read the book from Dennis Ogden. Very well written and exciting story about the horse and the man who loves him, specially after/in wartime.
For young and older public.