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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 August 2009
Having initially read 'A Pair of Silver Wings' by the same authour and seeing the reviews of that read state that it was very similar to the Burning Blue, I delayed before finally purchasing this book, what a mistake. A fantastic read, once I'd started reading this I just couldn't put it down. Whilst the similarities are there with Silver Wings (RAF Fighter Pilot, close best friend, a secretive love) I found it a completely new read and one not to be missed. Couldn't help feeling however that this story ended a bit prematurely, just felt there was more to come from Joss, whether there is a follow up planned or not I don't know.

But to summarise, miss the Burning Blue and a Pair of Silver Wings at your peril!
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on 11 August 2011
The subject matters of this book - WW2, the Battle of Britain, a love story - all appeal to me, so it was natural for me to gravitate to buying it. Of course that didn't mean I would enjoy it. To say that I enjoyed the book, however, is an understatement. I really loved it. From the first pages, which begin in the deserts of North Africa, I was drawn into the world of Joss Lambert, the tortured hero, and his friends.

Clearly, Holland has a deep knowledge of life in the 1930s and 40s, both civil and military, because every page oozes with authenticity - to this amateur eye at least. While parts of it are deeply moving, even tragic, I found it a heartwarming homage to courage, honour, friendship and love. I thought it was absolutely tremendous, and on a par with the excellent Piece of Cake, by Derek Robinson. Highly recommended, and five solid stars out of five.

Ben Kane, author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome.
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on 13 August 2004
I am an avid reader all books based during World War 2. After the first page this book capitivated me and I coudn't put it down. James Holland has a fantastic way with words and his descriptions of dogfights and the experience of flying are spellbinding, your imagination runs wild. I laughed, I cried, I was fighting for breath during some of the intense fighting scenes. Great Great Book. I only hope that there is a sequel on the way as I desperatly want to know what happens next.
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on 2 February 2005
Having read the other reviews of this book I was under the impression that Mr Holland would be a gentleman of greater years than he is. I was surprised to see what a young whipper-snapper he is, judging by the photograph on the insider cover. Anyway, I say this because to have such passion and apparent depth of knowledge for a subject that occured outside one's lifetime shows either a real devotion to the subject, or personal experience -which obviosuly isn't possible. This passion and knowledge is certainly carried through his pen (his apparent fondness for by-gone times makes me suspect that he, charmingly, prefers old fashioned ways, such a pen and ink rather than a computer). A thrilling read throughout! I am dyslexic and find reading a real chore, but no such problems with this book. A plot as rivitting as the twists and turns of hero Joss as he weaves his Spitfire through the sky above wartime England and beyond. A charming story based a fact, it brings fresh life into an era past but not forgotten, thanks to books like this.
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on 23 March 2013
This is a quite readable but slightly disappointing saga about a young RAF pilot's experiences just prior to and during the Second World War. The lead character is an interesting one, something of an outsider and burdened by a family secret that affects his attitudes to the fighting in which he becomes embroiled. In the way the storyline unfolds I sensed faint echoes of "Brideshead Revisited" and even "The English Patient", and although the writing is not of the same calibre, parts of this book do have a fair amount of depth and insight. Unfortunately, such depth and subtlety becomes less and less evident as the book progresses, and what remains is a fairly run-of-the-mill wartime story. There's nothing especially wrong with this, except that it's been done so many times already and this book adds very little to what has gone before. It also suffers from a weak ending, a curiously abrupt denouement which leaves the reader hanging in mid-air with some key plot lines unresolved.

I'm no expert, but as regards historical detail the author appears to know his stuff. Some of the background description is absorbing, but there were some parts where the book slipped into "let's give readers a history lesson" mode; this was particularly evident in rather unconvincing conversations between the lead characters. There were also several points where the storyline becomes rather cliched; for example one principal character's dramatic demise is signalled in a very obvious way that actually robs their death of the impact it should have had.

All in all, this isn't a bad book, but it isn't anything particularly special either.
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on 23 November 2004
What an absolutely fantastic novel. Truely stunning and gripping. Holland creates a very visual experiance throughout the book and keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what Joss Lambert could be up to next.
Joss's experiance of flight and dogfights are amazingly written. The detailed descriptions make you feel like you're there too and part of what the character is experiencing. You almost feel like you're a part of Joss's life, a fly on the wall.
James Holland is an absolute legend!
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on 6 February 2014
Having read a couple of James Holland's factual books about WW2 I knew he could write a great book so I decided to buy a novel by him.
Quite simply I loved every page of it. The way in which life in England must have been like just before the war is brought to life, through to the life of an RAF pilot as tried to cope with the sheer terror of dogfights in the air, losing comrades and his own private demons.
This is a war story and a love story rolled into one and is a truly great read.
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on 20 September 2013
I bought my Dad other books in this series for Father's Day this year and after he loved that, I bought him three more by James holland for his birthday. While not normally a big reader he has been unable to put down this authors work.
Well I know what I can get him for Christmas.....normally it's so difficult.
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on 23 August 2004
James Holland has written a masterpiece of a novel here. The way he flits between different dates and locations could well have lead to a very jumbled story, but he has let the story flow fantastically well. His accounts of combat flying leave you breathless, and draws a very vivid pciture of what arial combat may have felt like, as do his accounts of life in pre and wartime England. I am certainly looking forward to more from Mr Holland's pen.
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on 29 December 2014
Highly recommended

This is a superbly evocative account of the life of a young fighter pilot. James Holland brilliantly captures the 'feel' of the period; his attention to detail and period accuracy are exemplary (as one would expect of an historian of his stature). Having read his brilliant non fiction works, I was curious to see whether his characterisation could match this high standard. I am delighted that he can - the characters are believable and I ended up caring very much for them
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