on 26 February 2014
I was impressed by the way the author has mixed fact and fiction to make this a very readable and true to fact account of a fictional character, very clever indeed...It was an unputdownable read and I'm really looking forward to the next instalment Well done, keep it up sir
on 19 October 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed this British military adventure story. Like many such stories it begins with some background events leading up to the situation in which the central character, in this case a young soldier called Sledge, finds himself, and from which the unfolding action emerges. Unfortunately for our hero of the story, Sledge, and the men under his command, display just a little ‘too’ much potential and enthusiasm at the beginning of their careers for what it takes to be a good soldier and very nearly find themselves in danger of being booted out of the army. Thankfully someone higher up sees how Sledge and his oppos might be put to better use rather than being thrown back onto civvie street, and gives them the opportunity to prove themselves in a more demanding role. What follows is a side-splittingly funny (and indeed sometimes harrowing) depiction of the brighter side of army life, military banter, and colourful language that would make even the sturdiest blush at. The reader follows Sledge and his comrades’ progress through their training in a newly formed elite troop that sort of exists as a halfway house between a regular regiment and the elite special-forces, possibly to take on missions that the SAS would want to be able to deny all liability or involvement in. Although highly trained and capable of killing without hesitation by the end of their training, Sledge and his comrades are still just like ninety five percent of the rest of the British Army, i.e. hard drinking, womanising, and a colourful a vocabulary as one can imagine – in other words, typical squaddies (and damned good soldiers to boot) – rather than some unbelievable Rambo type supermen.
The real nitty gritty of the story i.e. fighting a real enemy, doesn’t really take place till say the last third of the book, focusing instead on the men’s training, friendships, and banter, but all combining to form the prefect built up to the conclusion. The contrast between the humour and sometimes madness of army life, and the grim realities that inevitably arise from time to time is well portrayed as the story progresses.
I would say that the best military based adventure books are written by those with some personal experience of military life, but that isn’t to say such experience guarantees an enjoyable reading experience. Quite often the writer’s personal experience is injected into their writing too literally, often resulting in a book that comes across as part fiction, part memoir, and with way too much emphasis on military accuracy at the expense entertaining the reader. Thankfully Sean Connelly hasn’t fallen in that trap; yes his own experience shines through in the writing, and the military detail is spot on (for the most part) but he’s also injected a certain degree of poetic licence into his writing to make for a more entertaining story, creating larger than life characters but who aren’t so far removed from reality that they force the reader to suspend disbelief; for military purists there might well be some areas where it could be argued that the poetic licence has been taken a tad too far, i.e. the notion of a bunch of green teenage royal artillery recruits getting the better of highly trained and experienced infantry men is a little hard to believe for anyone whose actually served, as well as their being propelled at such an early stage of their careers into such a troop, but for the average non-military or civvie reader I imagine it wouldn’t be an issue.
Normally this would be an easy five stars for the humour and thumping good story telling value whilst still remaining credible but there were a few typos and grammatical issues i.e. the odd missing word here and there, which tells me the final draft would have benefitted from another round or two of editing and proof reading. Nonetheless it still gets a five star rating, just not quite a resounding one. If you’re looking for the sort of high octane adrenalin fuelled action of an Andy McNab novel or the cold brutal reality of a Ken Wharton book then this probably isn’t it, but if you enjoy British Army themed escapist story telling that captures at least some of the feel and flavour of military life as it was for most of us then you really can’t do much better than this.
on 18 May 2014
I'm really lazy when it comes to reviews, but I'm only into the first few chapters and felt utterly compelled to make a comment about this book. .WOW...So far it is bloody brilliant! I'm a sucker for army books, and usually stick to the tried and trusted like McNab and so on, but wow this made such a wonderfully refreshing change. The writer has such a great voice, and the flow - you almost feel you are there in that wet and cold trench, feeling tired and drenched, yet piqued with an adrenalin rush of what is to come. Great character descriptions as well; I can see them in my minds eye and feel as if I know them already! Just can't wait to get back to it! Thank God it's Sunday! Five huge, great, big, deserving stars flying the authors way, and I'll be back with a comment at the end!
on 22 April 2014
Wasn't sure what to expect after reading the three other books that the Author had written as they were biographies but very good ones at that. Gunners n grenades has outdone some other books I've read by well established Authors. I look forward to reading books about "Sledge" for a long time to come, as an ex squaddie I can say it's easy to relate to, and you don't have to have a military background to understand it. Can't wait for the Hollywood blockbuster.