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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nice change
I have just finished this book and after a few slow chapters at the start ( I think mostly because there are a lot of characters to introduce) I found this book fascinating and hard to put down. I read about the 1st 7 Sharpe novels in the 80s and have not read any Cornwell until Azincourt last year (pretty good I thought) and now The Fort which made a nice change. I...
Published on 14 Jan 2011 by R. J. Hedley

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty decent story
I liked 'The Fort' a lot, though it does feel a little slow a times. This, I think, is mainly due to the fact that Cornwell has adhered rather strongly to the actual facts of the historical events depicted in the novel. It leaves less room for Sharpesque heroics but makes the story seem all the more realistic for it. At times I wasn't entirely sure whether I was reading a...
Published on 3 Oct 2011 by Flemming Nielsen


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nice change, 14 Jan 2011
By 
R. J. Hedley "Rupert Hedley" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fort (Hardcover)
I have just finished this book and after a few slow chapters at the start ( I think mostly because there are a lot of characters to introduce) I found this book fascinating and hard to put down. I read about the 1st 7 Sharpe novels in the 80s and have not read any Cornwell until Azincourt last year (pretty good I thought) and now The Fort which made a nice change. I think Sharpe has been done to death and it was interesting to read another horse and musket tail that was not about the Napoleonic Wars. Also the fact that the novel sticks more or less to the actual events is v interesting - I found out an awful lot about a small, almost forgotten battle that I dont remember reading about in any book I have read on The War Of Independence. The revelations about Revere are amazing and the American admiral comes out of it looking pretty sorry as well. On the other hand the US Marines seemed to be as tough then as now. Pleased to see in the reviews that at least one American who has read this is open minded. Americans should be able to take this read on the chin as they did win the war with a little help from their continental friends

A very entertaining read - maybe Cornwell should consider going the whole hog and dabbling in a little factual history writing.
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194 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, this is no Azincourt, 1 Oct 2010
By 
J. Cooper (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fort (Hardcover)
Another year has passed and another Cornwell novel has arrived. And this year we have a standalone novel which focuses on the `forgotten' Penobscot Expedition, one of the lesser well known conflicts of the American War of Independence.

In recent years, fans of Cornwell have increasingly clamoured for him to return to the highly praised Starbuck Chronicles or for a completion of the Alfred/Uhtred adventures. Cornwell has mastered the knack of beginning highly engrossing series and then leaving the reader dangling whilst he focuses on other works. This is infuriatingly maddening when I need my next fix in the series, but also a good way of increasing my anticipation for his newest novel! So, when Cornwell announced via his website that his next book would not be a continuation of one of his current series, I was a little worried as my mind was drawn back to `Azincourt' and the lukewarm reception it received.

Putting all my misguided apprehension aside, I have to say that I am an absolute Cornwell fan! I had to have the book on its publication date and I even took time off work this year to shut myself away from the real world whilst I devoured his latest novel. And after completing it, I have to say that it is brilliant, one of his best in years.

You can tell immediately, that `The Fort' is a novel that Cornwell has always wanted to write. Everything about the book screams that it is thoroughly and impeccably well researched, extremely well written and contains a new set of characters who are definitely not `carbon copies' of Sharpe/Uhtred set in different historic settings. The characters are well rounded and have personalities which are fully dimensional, particularly for some of the `rebels' in this book. These men lived and fought through a period of time in which they struggled with their national identity and allegiances. Were they British or American, Rebel or Loyalist? This battle to `re-identify' their nationality and political allegiance is beautifully and simplistically woven into the tale. You truly feel sorry for some of the American characters in this book who are caught up in a war which they had no desire to take part in.

The story principally concerns the Americans attempting to dislodge a British incursion at Majabigwaduce, Massachusetts (look out for how many variations the characters use for this unwieldy place name, very amusing!). Some authors (but mainly popular Hollywood films) when tackling the American War of Independence have been guilty of creating pompous, snobbish, effeminate, evil British officers and `against all the odds' heroic, impossible to kill American patriots. That is not the case with this book, Cornwell has created a balanced novel in which characters are good and evil on both sides, but most importantly, he never loses sight of the fact that all people involved during this war were simple, flawed human beings and not Hollywood movie stars. This leaves a book which is an absolute pleasure to read.

If you're a Cornwell fan, you'll not be disappointed with this book. This is an exceptional return to form with this remarkable novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive piece of historical writing, 17 Nov 2010
By 
Mr. P. Datta "Pritthijit" (Stockton on Tees, Teesside) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fort (Hardcover)
History is an interesting subject, as it explores the past by highlighting events that changed the world forever. A Bernard Cronwell's novel seemed the right choice. The front cover of the book caught my attention whilst browsing through historical fiction. The cover is a big clue of what to expect in the novel. The Fort is expertly written with a combination of interesting facts and shocking events. The novel recaptures an important chapter in history. The American Revolutionary is the central theme of the novel. The two sides featured were the loyalists (considered loyal to their former colony) and the rebels, who later accepted a new identitiy of becoming an American. There was a fierce battle between the two sides. It is very interesting to know how America developed as a separate state.

The plot recaptures the year 1779. What was the significance of the year? This marked the third anniversary of America's independence from the rule of Britain. Of course it was a proud and historical moment for the country. The triumph was short-lived briefly as a British's expedition sailed across the Atlantic to seize control of an area much to the annoyance and fury of neighbouring state Massachusetts. The Americans easily outnumbered the British in terms of fleet numbers and troops. The mission was to reclaim the area and fight for indepedent. Despite smaller numbers, British showed strong resistance by providing tight defence and displaying excellent fighting sprits. The British buld a fort (hence the title) around the terriority to defend against attacks through their armoury. Improvisation became paramount in the line of attacks of the other side, as it seemed difficult to enter the land due to ambush attacks. The events of the bloodshed war are graphically described. The attacks on land and sea formed the main battle between the two sides. The plot builds up slowly as the author nicely introduces the key characters and unravel the events. It becomes a terrifying warfare that changed the course of history.

The characters are strongly represented.On the British side, we have veteran General Francis McLean. On the American side, we have patriots Brigadier Wadsworth and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere. Patriotism and fighting for freedom remained an important objective for the Americans. The dialogues are clever, as you can imagine so much planning and tactics formed the backbone of effectively attacking the enemy. Of course, there was disagreements and stubbornness from certain individuals.

Overall, "The Fort" is an impressive and interesting piece. Cornwell is a prolific writer of historical fiction. I find the novel engaging and attention grabbing, as it written so vividly and clearly. The research of the historical events without any doubts is impressive and meticulous. It feels we are relieving the days when a fierce war raged between two close allies in the modern decade, but obviously not so during that time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty decent story, 3 Oct 2011
By 
Flemming Nielsen (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fort (Paperback)
I liked 'The Fort' a lot, though it does feel a little slow a times. This, I think, is mainly due to the fact that Cornwell has adhered rather strongly to the actual facts of the historical events depicted in the novel. It leaves less room for Sharpesque heroics but makes the story seem all the more realistic for it. At times I wasn't entirely sure whether I was reading a fictional novel or a factual account; very well done, Mr. Cornwell.
Two things make me give 'The Fort' three, rather than four stars: One is the ending, which I think is somewhat abrupt; I know the story had to end at some point, but perhaps it could have been done a little more elegantly. The second element that makes me downgrade the rating is the simple fact, that the American War of Independence has never held much interest for me. That's hardly Cornwell's fault, but then, this is my review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get Back to Work, Cornwell!, 5 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Fort (Paperback)
This is another of Cornwell's vanity projects and a frustrating aside for those of us waiting for further instalments in his existing series. It is, however, still a good book.

There's nothing wrong with it as such- Cornwell's typical skill at conveying war is present as ever- it's just a bit trite. A title as blunt as "The Fort" suggests that we're talking about some famous siege where the identity of the fort is well-known (e.g. the Alamo). In reality, we're talking about a place whose name you'll forget about as soon as you finish the book.

This is obviously a subject that has personally appealed to Cornwell and the author's enthusiasm is palpable. It benefits from the lack of a central hero and the people invovled- with the exception of Revere- are well-rounded. These are actual characters instead of the usual caricatures. There's also a break from Cornwell's typical land-based action with O'Brien-style naval combat.

In spite of these plus points, the whole thing just doesn't sing. Perhaps it's just too trite a subject or perhaps it's actually the lack of one-dimensional characters but this just isn't as captivating as normal. It's most remarkable as an example of military planning going to pot.

Having touched above on this subject clearly being close to the author's heart, it's main purpose seems to be to celebrate John Moore while at the same time attacking Paul Revere. Cornwell admits that most of Moore's involvement is pure invention while as a non-American, Paul Revere isn't someone I'd heard of or care about. Agincourt was another of Cornwell's little projects and 1356 is set to be another but those at least are significant events in history: this has to be the least interesting set-up of any of Cornwell's books.

These matters aside, this is, at its heart, still by-the-numbers Cornwell which is better than most other writers can manage on their best days, so it's a good read: it's just unnecessary when his mind should be on the projects he's already started.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracker from Cronwell, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Fort (Hardcover)
After first discovering Mr Cornwell's books with the Uhtred series, and then recently reading Azincourt I was extremely excited to pick up a copy of The Fort on Friday. The fact that I finished it late last night (Sunday), in my view goes to show how much of a page turner the book is. As a stand alone book, of course it doesn't have the depth of characters that the Uhtred series does, but I was fully sold on both the British and American characters in the book, especially Lt Moore. Not knowing the outcome of this small chapter of the War of Independence also added to my enjoyment, as I experienced the full rolercoaster of the siege along with the characters. I must admit that I'm surprised that although other reviews have been on average good, there have been some disappointed readers. Maybe people who have a particular series such as Sharpe or the Saxon stories in their mind, are disappointed by how the box differs. I myself didn't have that problem. A fantastic book that I encourage all Cornwell fans to read, and anyone new to the author to try.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but lacks the usual Cornwell magic, 8 Nov 2010
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fort (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In Britain we had a brilliant cunning plan - we shipped out convicts to Australia and our religious nutcases over to the newly discovered America. In retrospect we are well aware that we should have left these two groups at home and shipped ourselves out to the paradise of Australia and the land of plenty that was America. But I digress, let's roll forward to the point where America tired of British rule, British Kings and, more importantly, British taxes. Obviously an unreasonable attitude but the War of Independence was their way of kicking us out and this novel, based on fact, is set during that war.

Some spoilers here, but I'm not sure if they count in a factual novel...

In 1779 a force of Scottish infantry with limited support from the Royal Navy was ordered to hold a key peninsula in Maine (called Majabigwaduce) while the Americans were equally determined to take it back.

British author Cornwell tries very hard to be objective and portray both sides in this conflict with balance. He obviously discovered an piece of American history that was not well known and decided to base a novel on it, partly because of the historical interest, but also because some key historical figures were involved, John Moore (later to become one of Britain's finest soldiers and leaders) and American Paul Revere (made famous by Longfellow's famous poem which gives him far more credit then he was actually due).

There is no doubt that this is an interesting book, but here Cornwell has taken an event and placed his story in it, he normally takes characters like Sharpe with distinct personality and then places them in historical events. It doesn't work like the Sharpe stories for this very reason as his main characters here were real and that does not allow him much to play with.

The Scots were inexperienced troops but had experienced and inspirational leadership and were regular soldiers who did this for a living. There was joint strategy and effective communication with the Royal Navy but the position was still very weak. Enter the Americans with more troops and a superior naval force, but with conflicting leadership and poor communications. From Cornwell's telling the American troops varied from experienced and brave marines to conscripts and volunteers who really wanted to be farming, not fighting. With naval and land commanders not agreeing on any strategy they delayed for so long that the Royal Navy turned up to re-enforce the garrison and the Americans decided to retreat. This was not from cowardice but, given that they no longer had the upper hand, was probably the best thing to do given the situation and that they had delayed for so long. Having said that, they had the chance to regroup where the river narrowed but once again poor leadership meant that they didn't do so, and as a result the fleet was destroyed by their own hands or by the British in the biggest American naval disaster prior to Pearl Harbor.

Of most interest was probably Paul Revere who comes over very poorly here, lazy arrogant and self serving - we Brits have hardly ever heard of him, but it may be hard for Americans to see a historical icon painted in a different light.

So this is an interesting book, but not a real page turner, it lacks tension because you know the outcome before you turn the first page. Cornwell has shed light on a small but important bit of history but fails to make it into an enthralling read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What we Fort For, 21 Nov 2014
By 
This review is from: The Fort (Paperback)
War can feel pretty pointless at times and none more so than in a skirmish that leaves people dead, but nothing is really gained. ‘The Fort’ is about at a battle between the Americans and the British in 1779 over a remote location in Massachusetts. Whilst the majority of Bernard Cornwell’s novels have taken a real event and woven a story around them, this is perhaps his most non-fiction to date (until his Waterloo book came out). Cornwell has stuck closely to the facts and tried to uncover why the Americans took so long to attack and left enough wiggle room for the Brits.

As someone who did not know this battle or the players involved, the outcome did leave me gripped, it remains open till the very end. However, it is also a lesson in the futility of war. The confusion, poor attitude and lack of professionalism by the American militants may have been true, but it is depressing to read. It also leads to a rather disjointed narrative as attacks build and stall over and over again. As a work of non-fiction, the book is an interesting take on the battle, but as non-fiction it is a little dull.

By sticking so close to the history, Cornwell is unable to unleash the flights of fantasy of a Sharpe. No one character is the centre and instead we jump from person to person to get their view. This adds further to the confused narrative. It has been clear for some time that Cornwell is increasingly interested in the non-fiction world and less so fiction. ‘The Fort’ sits uneasily between the two. Thankfully, his good eye and skill in prose means that even this slightly heavy handed novel has moments that entertain. Just not as many as you would expect from the author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Going for a Bernard Cornwell Book, 23 July 2011
By 
Roger "Cruisin-Geezer" (SWINDON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fort (Paperback)
As a fan, I have read all of Bernard Cornwell's books and for enjoyment this sits in the lower quartile. It gave me some historical insights in which the American War of Independence developed and I suppose it reasonably depicts the slow pace at which warfare was conducted in the Americas at the end of the 18th C, but in the process it was not a page turner!

Added to which, I read the Kindle version and was disappointed that this contained no maps by which I could reference the frequent descriptions of place and terrain. In fact, I had to go to the public library to examine and memorise as best I could the very helpful map in the printed version. Had the publisher bothered to include the map in the kindle version and had kindle itself the ability to zoom in on graphics (which it does not appear to do), I may not have struggled so much with this book. It may have caused me to rate this 3 stars, rather than two.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Bernard Cornwell to date, 19 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Fort (Paperback)
I have read a lot of Bernard Cornwell's books - and enjoyed all of them. He is a wonderful story teller, even if I do find the battle descriptions (gouging eyes out, slicing bellies open etc) rather gruesome. For me, this is his best book to date - or at least from the ones I have read (Grail series, Anglo Saxon series). Whilst these were all fine books, there was a distinct flavour of 'formula' about them. The hero always has a threatening back story and a dastardly personal enemy with whom he must grapple - as well as the armies of Danes/French etc. Girls are always wafer thin, men always make a 'mewing' noise when they die and critical themes of the plot are repeated with the subtlety of sledgehammer (the horror of the shield wall, how the longbow is constructed, strength of bowman, the 3 fates that guide our destiny etc). Don't let me put you off though - all books have weaknesses. And these are thrilling reads. Bernard Cornwell builds the suspense to the extent that I could not put most of them down.

'The Fort' shares these strengths without having the 'formulaic' feel. It builds up to a relentless crescendo of action through a cast of characters fighting on both sides of the conflict. But this time the characters come across as much richer and believable. The heroes (and villains) of the story are painted as real people - with strengths and flaws that are not just an excess of machismo. The story is how a small British garrison built and held a fort in Massachusetts against overwhelming odds, during the American war of independence. The actions of both defenders and attackers are retold in fascinating detail. We see the miss steps of both sides and the complexity of making the right decision when little is known about the enemy's own intentions. The politics between commanders that ultimately proves decisive is wonderfully detailed. Its a gripping story, thoroughly researched and full of historical patina. That Bernard Cornwell can bring real events to life so vividly is indeed a unique skill
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The Fort
The Fort by Bernard Cornwell (Hardcover - 30 Sep 2010)
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