Top positive review
68 people found this helpful
on 8 June 2007
Experts on Napoleon and Wellington will no doubt sneer at some of the dramatic & factual liberties Simon Scarrow has taken when writing this first volume of a series that will follow the lives and careers of both men. Others may damn the books for the odd anachronism or use of modern terminology. If they do then they miss the point of this book and those that follow it.
This is not meant to be dry, purely factual history. This is dramatic reconstruction, with all that the term implies. Young Bloods is an attempt to bring characters and events to life as real human beings. It is about making history, important, world changing history, accessible to those who would never dream of picking up a non-fiction history book in their life.
In this respect it is a great success. Young Bloods manages to be both informative and entertaining; a combination that can be difficult to achieve. It is even more impressive in this case when taking into consideration the fact that the book has to deal with the men's childhoods and the earliest parts of their careers and features none of their more well known military or political acheivements. Simon Scarrow is to be applauded for what he manages to do here and for shining a light on the more obscure early lives of both men.
He must also be praised for avoiding the traps of turning the life of either man into either a Bernard Cornwell-style tale of derring-do or a dry, factually impeccable yet unenvolving and slow Allan Mallinson-style detail-fest. For the most part avoiding horribly anachronistic behaviour or speech he strikes just the right line, managing to keep events accessible yet also preventing them from becoming too dry or turgid under the weight of factual accuracy.
Of course in order to do so his forced to sacrifice some verisimilitude and depth of character. Certain events also feels a little truncated from time to time, but they are prices worth paying to keep matters moving forward and to hold the reader attention. The fact that as a result of reading this and the books that follow more people are going to know more about both Wellington and Napoleon than simply Waterloo and the Iberian campaign is worth the sometimes prosaic story telling.
So no sneering. If you want minutae and 100% historical accuracy there are numerous bigraphies of both Wellington and Napoleon available. If you want an entertaining, action packed story of two men destined for greatness who just happened to be real, and a great many people do want precisely that, then Young Bloods should definitely be on your reading list.