I'd like help in identifying a novel based on the following details:

Novel length: Paperback, ~300 pages
Language: English
Date read: Early '90s
Publication of novel: Based on its condition, I'd guess mid/late '80s
Setting: Post-WWII Africa, presumably '60s or '70s
Novel cover: The edition I read had a predominantly silver cover, possibly with a lion on it

Story Outline

  • The opening scene is a British soldier in the protective detail for some foreign dignitary/politician. This soldier has an artificial leg (one of the attackers notices this and humourously thinks 'A soldier with a tin leg'). They are attacked, and use a bright light to dazzle the attackers and successfully repel the attack.
  • Key Plot: A small group (maybe 10) British soldiers led by the above soldier are sent to an African nation to help its ruler fight back against a revolution.
  • The revolutionary group is either known as "Jato", or uses that word as a rallying cry. There is also some association of the word "lions" with the group.
  • The British leader of that group is at one point captured by the revolutionaries, he is respected by their leader, and is imprisoned in their camp in the jungle.
  • The British leader escapes from that camp by triggering a dust explosion in a grain silo/storage shed, and then having an exhausting return to the capital city.
  • There is a parallel storyline about a lady doctor (Western/white) who is working in that country, around the midpoint/second half of the novel she is almost raped by native soldiers, but is saved. I believe she also gets involved in a romantic relationship with said soldier.
  • At its conclusion, the revolutionaries have succeeded in taking over the country, i.e. our hero's mission failed.
  • The revolutionary leader allows the British soldiers to depart via plane (implying that while they were on opposing sides, they were professionals doing the job, just as he sees himself as a patriot doing his).

I have been searching for this novel for years, to no avail. My searches usually get lost in Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO, which is nothing to do with this novel's plot point or use of Jato), or in the word 'lions' which usually leads me to Ken Follett.

I would appreciate it if you could help point me towards this novel.

  • 1
    Excellent question! That's an impressive amount of detail you've provided.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 18, 2018 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


"Conflict of Lions" by Terence Strong

The lion of revolution is coming, insidious and menacing, to the quiet West African republic of Free Guinea. In the hiatus following the Falklands War, a group of hardened SAS troops is sent as a safeguard against rumblings of political discontent against the moderate elected government. It is intended to provide the ideal location for the men to rest after the violent burst of full-blooded warfare in the South Atlantic. And so it does – that is, until a tourist is found dead on the beach. In the remote territory up country, the forces of violence and terror are gathering and it is certain that innocent blood will be spilled. That is when the legendary SAS captain returns. To the only woman he has ever loved. And to a brooding land of fear and unrest, swept by a rising tide of revolutionary fervour and bloodlust.

Jato appears to be the revolutionary leader, excerpt:

And then Jato stepped forward... “My people!” he said. And the sound of his voice thrilled her, as it carried firmly across the clearing. “I bring you a message. The Lion has returned to Free Guinea. The Lion of Freedom is here!”

  • Perfect, that's exactly the one! Time to go shopping for my Kindle :-)
    – Phylyp
    Jun 19, 2018 at 23:58

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