In the middle of that long saga, one major subplot involved the discovery of mysterious keys that open
heavily engineered metal doors protecting hidden passages. All the keys had been found in special places in the history—at the famous Oracle of Delphi, embedded in one of the Elgin Marbles, the
Rosetta Stone discovered in Egypt during Napoleon’s invasion, in a vase on display in the Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty in China, and also in one of the recently unearthed Terracotta
warriors. And these keys are what now make this journey to Zululand in 1879 possible.
The premise is a simple one: two wealthy industrialists have possession of one of these mysterious keys,
which conceal rifts in spacetime behind the doors they open. They have used them to take long safaris through the past, wagering with one another on the outcome of famous historical battles.
It’s the basic energy that Mister Schettler first kindled in his Meridian Series, and the first of these books in what he calls the “Keyholders Saga” has emerged from his Kirov
Series in a wonderful retelling of the Battle of Waterloo. This one, the fate of Lord Chelmsford and his British Army in Zululand, is volume 2 in the series, and not to be missed by any fan of this
In fact, the more you know of the history of this campaign, the more you will be entertained. The author
explores the effort made by Sir Roger Ames, the Duke of Elvington in Modern times, as he jousts with his nemesis, Jean Michel Fortier playing for the Zulu side of this war. The Duke is trying
to save Chelmsford and prevent the disaster at Isandlwana, and Fortier is trying to make sure the fierce impis of the Zulus properly devour the British. The result of this contest takes us to the
heart of all the decisions Chelmsford had before him after crossing the Buffalo River into Zululand, and the alternative choices he might have made to alter the disastrous outcome. Yet even if you
are not well versed in the history surrounding the battle, you will certainly be well educated by the time you finish this novel.
Beginning at the crossing of the Buffalo River on 10-11 January, the author shows why it took Chelmsford
nearly 12 days to move just nine more miles into Zululand. In that interval, all the many possibilities and choices before him are explored, and Sir Roger Ames is doing his very best to get him to
correct his oversights and errors, and push the course of the campaign to an alternate outcome. The history buffs will enjoy all of this segment, and then, midway through the book, the time to prove
whether the Duke’s interventions have saved the hour finally arrives with “The Coming of the Shadows,” the massive Zulu army of some 20,000 men against less than 5,000 under
Chelmsford’s command. From that point on, the last half of the book is all the alternate history battles that flowed from the Duke’s interventions, every bit as detailed and visceral as
those in the movies.
So strap on your pith helmet, load that Martini & Henry rifle, and stand to! Zulu Hour
is a wonderful leap into all this fascinating and exciting military history by an author that had emerged as the new master of that genre, with over 60 books out now that use some means of time travel to get modern day characters back in to the heart of these famous battles, and live them through in a way they never could while safe and sound in their libraries or reading chairs. Zulu Hour presents a convincing, well-researched alternate outcome of this first great clash between Lord Chelmsford and the Zulus, and it’s one that no fan of the genre, or any of this military history, will want to miss.