Literary Review: Shaun Clarke - Dragon Light

Paperback Cover - Dragon Light

Shaun Clarke

Dragon Light

Pocket Books/Simon &Schuster, 1997

Available secondhand from Amazon and other online sources

Also available as a free e-book from the author

Date Reviewed:


Dragon Light

Action thrillers, I have to admit, are rarely the kind of genre to arouse great interest in me, except perhaps on a long journey, stuck with little to do and not quite conducive to reading something more intellectually demanding. In those kind of situations I have been known to resort to the odd excellent Alistair MacLean thriller or others, and even actually to enjoy the experience.

So imagine my surprise when a rare new copy of bestselling author of the Soldier... series of SAS and other Special Forces novels and others like The Exit Club, Shaun Clarke's Dragon Light landed in my hands and I felt utterly compelled to read it cover to cover in one session, barely daring to stop briefly for necessities such as meals and personal hygiene! Perhaps I ought not to have been surprised when one bears in mind that Shaun Clarke is a pseudonym of bestselling master storyteller W. A. Harbinson.

Set during the first Gulf War of 1991, Shaun Clarke's Dragon Light is the story of a daring SAS rescue mission of Special Forces personnel - and one female US Air Force pilot - captured by Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq. It is also the story of one of the rescuers, SAS Sergeant Mike Kilroy, and one of the rescued, US AF pilot Alice Davis. Dragon Light is very much an action thriller with a difference. It is also a superbly understated and subtle love story. In its own subtle way, it is also one of the best anti-war stories ever told, through its exposure of the horrors of the naked brutality of war and its effects on the perpetrators of that brutality.

Right from the opening pages of Dragon Light, Shaun Clarke's masterful narration grips you and won't let up nor let go. The suspense and tension are palpable, the intensity is such that you are bound to feel that you're right in the middle of the action and your only escape is to get to the end of this riveting story.

A clean, sanitised action thriller this clearly is not. Dragon Light is messy, bloody, down-and-dirty, deeply unpleasant and disturbing in places, and it offers little in the way of comfort. Even the subtle love story aspect is hardly of the 'Ahh...' factor variety that offers some kind of happy or even 'enjoyably' tragic conclusion. There is no real closure anywhere. As, indeed, there cannot be.

Shaun Clarke's Dragon Light is the perfect thriller. Full of gripping action, a riveting story. And down-and-dirty realistic with it. A good action thriller reminds a bit of the old joke, 'Is sex dirty?' 'If it's good, it is!' Dragon Light is certainly like that.

You have been warned. You won't be able to put Shaun Clarke's Dragon Light aside until you reach the end.

Sadly, this brilliant thriller is out of print, but you can easily find it on the secondhand market, especially online through sources such as Amazon. You can also download Shaun Clarke's Dragon Light as a free e-book in pdf format from the author's web site.

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