The Island of Sheep by John Buchan


PSA: If you haven’t already heard, I have a serious obsession with the Richard Hannay thrillers by John Buchan. If you are a fan of thrillers or mysteries they are a must read. You’re welcome. 

Curiously, as big as a fan that I am, I did not start The Island of Sheep with high hopes. It’s not hyped at all. I mean, seriously, I couldn’t even find a good blurb to plagiarize for my description. But just because I liked the others so much (it’s the last one in the series. 😥 ) I picked it up to read when I got my wisdom teeth pulled last April. 

The Book

Sir Richard Hannay goes with Peter John, now fourteen, on a shooting holiday. They meet a gentleman who calls himself Smith, but who Hannay thinks is northern European.

Back in the Cotswolds, Lord Clanroyden (Sandy), shows Hannay a jade tablet and tells him about Hareldsen, the man who it belonged to. He then introduces him to Hareldsen’s son, Hannay’s acquaintance Smith from the marshes.  

Hareldsen is being blackmailed by a gang of men who were his father’s enemies. Hannay once fought them with Hareldsen in Rhodesia years earlier. He had promised Hareldsen to protect his son from the survivors of the sinister gang. Hannay invites Hareldsen to stay at Fosse Manor, but the net is closing in. They move next to Lord Clanroyden’s home in the Highlands, but it is evident they will not be safe there for long. When one of Hannay’s comrades brings Hareldsen’s daughter, Anna, from the South of England, they are chased by car for most of the way.

Ever dogged as they move northward, the Hareldsens sail to their home in the norlands, The Island of Sheep, and soon their friends join them. There, Hareldsen, Hannay and the others turn on the defensive. But as they barricade Hareldsen’s island home, Peter John and Anna go missing. They have been taken prisoner, just before the final confrontation, and it is up to Lord Clanroyden to rescue them.

My Thoughts

That’s a pretty bad summary, guys. (I tried.) As I’ve said before, Buchan’s plotting makes no sense in retrospect, but by means of excellent characters and constant action, it never constitutes a flaw. It just makes writing blurbs really hard. 😀 

First things first. I ship Peter John and Anna so hard. They’re so cute together, as well as on their own.  Peter is such a little dear! (I dunno, maybe I just have a silly bias toward the name Peter? XD ) I love his quiet, grown-up personality. And Anna is just as perfect. I love the way Buchan described her way of using words, and how she reacted to the car chase and getting captured. They were just children, but so real.

Also, the falconing was so fascinating and beautiful. It’s something I didn’t know much about and it added another otherworldly aspect to the novel.

I almost don’t think that the plot was the main focus of the story. It was more about characters and places and feelings, and the plot was almost more of an embellishment than anything. I was a little fuzzy on the villains. There were too many of them, in my opinion, and the fact that they weren’t all what they seemed was just confusing. I was also a little fuzzy on the ending. Highlight to see the spoiler. Why did Clanroyden give Troth the jade tablet?Anyhow, because the plot was so outshined by the characters and all that, it wasn’t such a big deal. And if you loved the other books in the series, I’m certain you’ll love The Island of Sheep too. 

Have you read The Island of Sheep? Any other books by Buchan? Share your favorite with me in a comment!


2 thoughts on “The Island of Sheep by John Buchan

  1. Yay! Another Buchan review!

    Yes, this one was my least favourite of the Hannay novels – the plot was too loose and messy for my tastes, and while I did like Peter John and Anna, I would have preferred to spend more time with Dear Richard. Still, I haven’t read it for years; I should reread it sometime and see what I notice.

    I believe Sandy did what he did at the end because of what was on the tablet… it was going to teach the recipient a valuable lesson? IDK, it’s been years since I read the book :P.


    1. Haha! Mr. Standfast is still my favorite. I recall reading that Buchan wrote TIOS as a favor for a young fan, so maybe he wasn’t quite in it.
      That makes sense about the note on the tablet. It was more the villain switcharoo that got me. 😀
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


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