The thought was coming more often. That wherever he was, he was at the centre of a cage. He couldn’t have said when the notion first entered his head. Some time in the last months. It was now more than a notion, he he could see the damn bars. They were grey steel, the height of a man on horseback.
For three years Ben Hall and his gang have lived as bushrangers, riding free, robbing stage coaches, taking what they need, and finding safe harbour with friends. But now their days on the road are numbered. Coaches now have armed escorts, the mail holds cheques rather than cash, and those that shelter them are being targeted by the law. There have been deaths, too. Though Ben himself has not killed, being present when two policemen are killed makes him guilty too. Ben knows it is only time before he is caught, so plans to escape to New Zealand. First, though, he wants to set things right with his son, Harry.
Game is an absorbing tale of Ben Hall’s life, attempting to portray the inner workings of one of Australia’s best known bushrangers. Readers are invited to explore Hall’s complex relationship with his son, who is being raised by Ben’s wife Biddy and her new man, and his decisions on the road, during hold ups and with his colleagues and shelterers. He is portrayed as being at times vulnerable, at others compassionate, even charismatic, yet with an awareness that he can also be ruthless and also criminal.
This is not a book which glorifies the bushranger’s exploits; rather, it explores his human side, flaws and all.
Game, by Trevor Shearston
Allen & Unwin, 2013
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