Saul’s debut historical novel, Zulu Hart – set during the Zulu War and featuring the adventures of the soldier George Hart – was published in March 2009. Praised by Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, it was chosen as a Waterstone’s New Talent in Fiction title and reached No. 4 in the Daily Telegraph hardback fiction bestsellers. The paperback came out last November and, with 9,500 sales in the first full week, made the Bookseller’s official Top 50. It has now sold almost 100,000 copies in the UK in hardback and paperback combined.
George Hart is the bastard son of a pillar of the British military establishment and a half Irish, half Zulu actress.
Bullied at school for his suspiciously dark skin and lack of a father, Hart soon learns to fight – and win. At eighteen, his world is shaken by his mother’s revelation that his anonymous fathr is willing to give him a vast inheritance – provided he can prove himself worthy of the prize as an officer in the King’s Dragoon Guards.
At a time when racism and prejudice are rife in Victorian society, Hart struggles to come to terms with his identity. Forced to leave the army, he decides to head to South Africa, and a fresh start.
But George Hart has soldiering in his blood, and once in Africa the urge to serve again is strong. Yet now he is caught between two fierce and unyielding forces as Britain drives towards war with the Zulus. Hart must make a choice – and fight for his life.
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Reviews of Zulu Hart
"Indebted as Zulu Hart is to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe yarns, this historical novel has a recognisable heritage and therein lies its appeal. George Hart is a Victorian cadet who, on discovering his part-Zulu heritage, finds his loyalties sorely tested in the imminent Zulu war. The action is brisk enough to keep the pages turning, while Saul David’s credentials as a military historian lend the conflict both accuracy and authenticity."
Holly Kyte, Sunday Telegraph
"Plenty of action and bloody death, incompetent and scheming officers, a brace of lovely women tugging at Hart’s heart make for a terrifice yarn."
Sun Herald (Australia)
"A fast-moving and succinct account of the machinations and betrayals that surrounded that fateful day in 1879."
KATHY STEVENSON, Daily Mail
"Let’s hope that Saul’s David’s new character will be reappearing: Zulu Hart, a young soldier let loose in the Victorian Empire. A terrific adventure and a genre that goes from strength to strength."
RODNEY TROUBRIDGE, Waterstone’s Fiction Marketing Planner, Bookseller’s Choice for March 2009
"Fantastically grounded… with a great character, George Hart, who’s got a bit of Zulu in him and a bit of Irish. A really, really good read. There are lots and lots of heaving bosoms and bastard children as well… It rollicks along, a real page-turner. I can read it knowing all the context is true."
BETTANY HUGHES, The Book Show, Sky Arts 1
"The details of the l879 campaign are superbly laid out, and this is a real education."
Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph
"David knows his stuff, historically, and there is much to admire in his evocation of 19th Century warfare."
Mail on Sunday, ****
"Well-written love interests, epic locations and a moulding of historical fact and fiction, Zulu Hart is a great fictional debut. Fans of Bernard Cornwell will love it."
L/Cpl Chris MacCullum, Int. Corps, Soldier Magazine
"Fans of imperial derring-do will be pleased to hear that the military historian Saul David, a self-confessed admirer of the Flashman books, has now jumped into the breach with a fictional hero of his own… Where David’s background in military history really comes in handy is in his descriptions of army protocol, the sweep and detail of the South African landscape and the politics of the Zulu War, about which he has already written an acclaimed factual account. Readers interested in Victorian imperial history, as well as lovers of books like the Prisoner of Zenda, will probably find all this highly entertaining stuff… [It] promises to be a colourful, amusing and successful series."
DOMINIC SANDBROOK, Standard
"A rattling good yarn… A compelling, sexy hero who could give Cornwell’s Sharpe a run for his money."
KATE SAUNDERS, The Times
"A Victorian adventure as big as the veldt and chewier than Buffalo biltong… George Hart cuts an unconventional figure, but Saul David never forgets the story in history – the diplomacy of the period is turned effectively and amusingly into a game of sardines in a hotel and real figures of the period are endowed with motive, intent and dialogue that may be fictitious but are entirely convincing… A real sense of military detail – the stuff that would rate a footnote in an academic history is here the star of the show… So for those listening for the pftzlcchh, the Zulu word for the collapse of a story’s plot and the deflation of its characters, tough – you won’t find it here."
ROGER PERKINS, Sunday Telegraph
"Gems like this are too rare. I was hooked in ten pages."
"Saul David has already shown himself to be a first-rate historian, now he proves to be a masterly story-teller. Zulu Hart left me wanting more . . . much more."