Book Review: “The Sound of the String” by Brad Isham

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 3.53.02 PMThe Sound of the String
By: Brad Isham
Style: Fiction
Where to buy

The Plot (taken from thesoundofthestring.com)
With a duffle bag and a handmade longbow Gordon Bradford travels to Africa with an open mind and heart. His first safari leads to more as his spiritual connection with the land, people, and wildlife evolves. He discovers ethereal connections with the animals he pursues and learns from their perspectives the balance of the bushveld, for predator and prey.

Gordon is mentored by the sage wisdom of Moses, an elderly black man whose early years were spent in racially torn South Africa. He shares in the lives of the people in a remote bush camp and helps as they defend themselves from baboons, poachers, and an angry mob from a neighboring village that attack the camp.

His friendship builds with his guide and Professional Hunter, Lucas, while finding he is falling in love with Lucas wife, Lise. Sabotage and subterfuge between Gordon and Lucas is hidden behind their professional and personal relationships as they attempt their most dangerous hunt together for Cape buffalo.

What kind of read is it?
I would describe this as a romantic adventure with traditional bowhunting at its core. While it is a work of fiction (based on real African hunting stories), the Gordon Bradford character is as real as you, me, or any traditional bowhunter you’ve encountered. The author obviously knows our brand of bowhunting and channels his ideals through Gordon who doubles as a brand champion of sorts. However, he doesn’t let that distract you from the plot, which is Gordon’s relationship with Africa, its game, and Lucas and Lise. It is as much about morality as it is the bow and arrow.

Who will it appeal to?
It is a tale about a bowhunter spun by a bowhunter. However, there are other elements that makes this more than your average hunting story. It is also a well-written work of fiction with enough substance to stand on its own without the hunting focus. People who have traveled to Africa or dreamt of doing so will enjoy this book. Anyone who has experienced a forbidden relationship will enjoy this book. If you’ve experienced hardship and had to overcome adversity (in life as well as in the field) you will enjoy this book. It reminded me of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises at times. It has that flavor.

In other words, if you are a meat-and-potatoes eating, hunting magazine reading bowhunter, consider this your dessert novel.

My thoughts
I was initially disappointed when I found out The Sound of the String was a fictional story and not about Brad Isham and his hunting experiences in Africa. Bowhunting with traditional equipment is a real activity that real people are passionate about. Why make it up when there are people living it every day? I thought.

But after beginning The Sound of the String and getting to know Gordon Bradford, I found it difficult to put the book down. I no longer cared he was a fabrication. Not in the least. I wanted to meet him; hunt with him; and felt the urge to visit Africa someday.

Isham only gives us a snippet of African life through the eyes of a foreigner, but it is a vivid one as full of adversity and turmoil as it is longbows and happy harvests. He shows us how wonderfully flawed Africa is, how imperfect we are as human beings, and why the two of us fit together so well. Maybe that’s why so many of us traditionalists dream of Africa in the first place. It is wild, untamed, and speaks to us on a primal level. No matter the outcome, we can truly be ourselves there.

I highly recommend this book to my fellow stick and string enthusiasts. It is a beautiful read that leaves you asking all the right questions and begging for a sequel. Purchase it here!

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