The final adventure starring Richard Hannay of The Thirty-Nine Steps fame, The Island of Sheep in many ways picks up where The Three Hostages left off. Hannay, unsettled by what the author John Buchan views as soft living, is pulled into danger's path by the igniting of a historic feud and the resurrection of an old pact. This novel contains what all of Buchan's yarns contain: peril, action, heroism, dastardly villains, powerful manly friendships, a hint of romance, references to the classics, British pluck in the face of danger, can-do youngsters, picturesque country folk…Buchan has a good thing going and enough sense to repeat it. More so than the other Hannay stories, this tale reveals a strong Nordicism in Buchan's outlook, interweaving details from Norse sagas as plot symbols to be explicitly interpreted by the central characters and featuring a neo-Viking who awakens from the diseased slumber of civilization to rekindle the inner fires of glory of a time when men were men. Buchan is no master wordsmith or formidable intellectual, but the lack of these (rare) qualities do not make Buchan's books any less successful as stories, nor do they diminish the value of the didactic element of his fiction.
I am steadily becoming a cheerleader of Wordsworth Classics, which combine an incredibly low price with curation of the highest quality. The front and back covers are quite suitable and the introduction, though short, is spot on. Would this book have been improved with textual notes of the thoroughness of an Oxford or Penguin edition? I suspect not; Buchan is best read for pleasure first and dissection third, if ever. (Instruction, of course, is the second purpose.)
As a 'first-rate second-tier author' generally, Buchan is by no means at the ebb of his authorial powers in The Island of Sheep. Devotees of Buchan; enjoyers of Haggard, Kipling, and Stevenson; readers who sigh at the current paucity of British vigor in modern life - give this one a look.