Although not the first book in the Biggles series this one does give us the beginning of Biggles’ flying adventures. To be honest like a lot of men my age and older I read these books whilst at school, and have never come back to them since. I was glad though that I did read this again after all these years, as it reminded me how good a lot of them were.
It is September 1916 when this story opens, and James ‘Biggles’ Bigglesworth finds himself at flying school. Really only seventeen years old Biggles has managed to lie about his age and get in to the Forces. We follow Biggles here as he learns to fly and then is sent to the Front. Although not for children that are too young as this does have a lot of death in it, this book works on more than one level. Biggles is a very human character; he makes mistakes, and also learns from them whilst also at the same time pondering the war, and using his brain.
Full of action, adventure and derring-do this is a book that is easy to lose yourself in, and makes some perfect escapism. Biggles starts off rather gung-ho at the beginning of this book, but you can see how his character changes as he becomes more cautious and thoughtful about what he is doing, thus making less rash actions. Although this is a novel it is more a series of interconnecting stories making this rather episodic, which does work well within the frame of this.
There is something of the romantic about bi-planes bringing back thoughts of nostalgia, rather like steam engines, and I am sure older men will want to read this again as they remember their boyhood and this is ideal for slightly older children and may even instil an interest in them of the First World War. Full of detail and bringing back the days of flying by the seat of your pants; this is a book that should appeal to a broad age range.
I kindly received a review copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.