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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flying higher
In this, his fourth book, Frank Barnard has, to mix metaphors, found his feet and taken wing. The sure touch he demonstrated in the flying scenes in his first three books set in the Second World War (Blue Man Falling, Band of Eagles and To Play the Fox) is again evident in his treatment of the progression of aviation from its early days up to the Battle of Britain. Added...
Published on 27 Mar 2012 by Terry Harvey

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing all over the place for me.
I have read all his books, but sadly i did not enjoy this one. The story was written from different standpoints with a chapter for one then a chapter for another, i am sure this is very interesting but if as i was you are sitting down for a good read frustrating. I found the start with the young Sgt pilot very good and then we didn't see him again until the end and his...
Published on 16 Dec 2012 by Dee Shelley


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flying higher, 27 Mar 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
In this, his fourth book, Frank Barnard has, to mix metaphors, found his feet and taken wing. The sure touch he demonstrated in the flying scenes in his first three books set in the Second World War (Blue Man Falling, Band of Eagles and To Play the Fox) is again evident in his treatment of the progression of aviation from its early days up to the Battle of Britain. Added to this is the creation of a very believable central character in Guv Sutro, an anti-hero to rank alongside Harry Flashman. As with MacDonald Fraser's work, this main character is supported by meticulous research which is all the more impressive for being used with a light touch - you get the effect without the effort. The way in which Sutro affects all those with whom he has dealings is revealed by degrees until at last we see the full picture; the wreckage caused by an overweening ambition.
Barnard shows the same capabilities when it comes to descriptions of the countryside around Rye and the Romney Marsh, and of Brooklands where much of the action takes place; he has the knack of making these places come alive and populating them with interesting characters. With this book he has gone beyond the page-turning excitement of his previous books and has created something deeper - I recommend it unreservedly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining novel of family, class and warfare, 21 Mar 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
Barnard succeeds extremely well in exploring deeper and darker themes during the period covering WW1 and WW2. It is a novel about warfare, specifically the war in the air with highly authentic and well researched descriptions of the RFC and RAF, the extraordinary characters who joined up to fight, the terrors, apprehensions and human cost of warfare. But it is also a novel about family tensions and the legacy that fathers pass down to their sons. Patriarchy during the period was a powerful motivator and the sons of strong fathers have a tremendous amount to live up to. It is also about the breakdowns in a society at war as the role of the hero becomes some kind of inspiration, a propaganda tool to drive the citizen to combat an enemy. Barnard looks carefully at the psychology of the hero, how such revered men can be so terribly flawed, disfigured by expectation and ambition. Above all this, the novel is highly entertaining, with great action scenes and moments of gut-wrenching excitement. It is a very human novel, about people and strife, survival in extreme circumstances that have universal resonances. A first class read. I'd recommend it to anybody.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic of family, class and warfare, 20 Mar 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
A Time for Heroes is a great read and certainly the best book this author has written so far. It does everything it claims on the cover: an epic of family, class and most of all warfare. It also raises valid questions about the behaviour of heroes and warns against putting people on pedestals. It's full of action with believable, period characters, set in convincing evocations of the time leading up to WW1, then the emergence of Fascism in the thirties and the slide into yet another war with Germany. The descriptions of flying, in primitive gliders from Sussex hilltops, in biplanes, or Spitfires and Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain are rendered with Barnard's sure touch. It is leavened by much sardonic and even black humour, and a good helping of romance (or at least dealings with women). The town of Rye and its surrounding countryside, notably the coast and Romney Marsh, are lovingly described. This novel would make a powerful film and it's fun nominating actors to play Guv Sutro, the villainous central character. A thoroughly enjoyable classic of its type.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A blockbuster of early aviation people, 1 May 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
Like to read a novel of ambition and political intrigue in a bygone age? A family story of sons, daughters and their servants? Heroic exploits in air warfare? 'A Time for Heroes' provides all these and more.

Unlike his earlier books, 'Heroes' does not feature airmen Kit Curtis and Ossie Wolf. Instead, Barnard gives us the memorable character of Guv Sutro, a legendary flyer whose exploits in war and peace bring him fame -- but whose driven, flawed personality drags him into selfish, often brutish behaviour. With the early history of aviation an ever-present backdrop, Sutro's story ranges across a very wide canvas, encompassing the lives of enthralling, well-drawn characters over the years from 1900 to the Battle of Britain and its aftermath.

We follow the pilot, his family, girl friends and associates during the birth of aviation, his joining the Royal Flying Corps (forerunner of the RAF, whose centenary is celebrated this year), record attempts in the 20s, his surprisingly naive political standpoint during Hitler's rise to power; and the famous pilot's eventual end during WWII. Along the way a huge cast of characters flit like moths around his flame, not least his boyhood friend Stan, the bailiff's son, with whose family his own life is inextricably and fatefully intertwined.

For aviation enthusiasts, Barnard's characters fly in a myriad of primitive military and civilian aircraft from a Bleriot to a DH4. In spite of meticulous research and great narrative skill, a detail here and there may jar with a reader who has flown piston-engine aircraft (like Sutro's son Tim I learned to fly 50 years ago in the Oxford University Air Squadron). But I can attest that these few glitches in no way detract from the thrilling realism of the flying sequences -- as in the author's other books.

Barnard has a great sense of location in which to place the actors in his story. Whether it's a large country house in rural Sussex, the battlefields of France, nights in London or strange happenings in Berlin, the period detail is there to create a compellingly authentic atmosphere, in which Guv's story is brilliantly sustained through triumph and disaster; and in which the author explores the motives and abuses of a charismatic leader.

A thoroughly enjoyable blockbuster of a book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great story, 26 April 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
I have read and enjoyed all of Frank Barnard's books to date, but this one stands out. It is an epic that covers the two World Wars and the intervening period.

The main characters are very different, yet all are very believable. They will generate a range of emotions within the reader, none more so than Fraser Sutro. He is one of the most villainous yet captivating characters that you will come across. Is he a hero, or misunderstood, or just evil? Or possibly all three? On the occasions that I began to feel the faintest of sympathy for him, he would have none of it, and would perform a deed that would banish my goodwill.....until my next weaker moment.

The relationships within the book are complex and essential to the story, yet the complexity is never a distraction for the reader. I cannot say how this has been achieved. This may be why Frank Barnard is an accomplished author and I am not. It is artistry.

In his first three novels, the way that Barnard dealt with death was (appropriately) breath-taking. This is taken to new levels in A Time for Heroes. The reader is hit with the full force of the brutality and futility of killing. There is no room for sentimentality, and there is certainly no glorification. Barnard makes "horrible" gripping.

The tensions between the characters are tremendous, and the combat backdrops to parts of the story are compelling. However, if anyone is in any doubt, this is not a war story. Wars may define the period but it is the effects of war and its impact on the class system of the period that provide the focus.

This is by far the best book that I have read recently and it has the potential to be enjoyed by an audience with a wide range of literary tastes. It is one of those books that when you are not reading it, you find yourself imagining it as a film. This is for one simple reason: It's a great story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All fair in love and war, 19 Mar 2012
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
Spanning two world wars and several generations of family affairs, the title of Frank Barnard's epic novel of RFC and RAF fighter pilots might make it sound like a stirring wartime adventure - and in many respects it certainly is - but going right back to the beginnings of aviation, it also goes right back to the source of those ideals that pilots live by, and along the way finds that heroism isn't always found where you expect it, and it's not so easy to define

Although the novel opens then with the experiences of two friends during WWII the events that shape their lives up to that moment are largely determined by the experiences of their fathers - Gav Sutro and Stan Kemp - and it's around the Great War that the majority of the novel takes place. Although one man is a wealthy Sussex landowner, and the other his bailiff, there is a friendship between the two men - an unequal one - that carries through to the Western Front, where Guv is hailed as a daring war hero in the developing field of air combat, and Stan his underappreciated sidekick gunner. Thus has it always been, from they were idealistic boys building their own gliders to the first attempts at true aviation feats, and so it is too in later life - Guv basking in the acclaim and having his choice of women, Stan picking up what's left-over.

There's not necessarily anything new in such characterisation, but Barnard has a good sense of the period and there's authenticity in the nature of the characters that is realistically related to the times. Just as importantly, it provides the necessary dynamic for the other questions that are raised in the book regarding the positions of class and gender inequality and the nature of heroism that are redefined by the First World War. The author takes those issues through to their respective sons where the conflict is also as much a generational one - the latter having to cope with the failures and the legacy of the preceding one - but disappointingly, the potential that is there in the sons and the unusual nature of their origins, isn't fully developed.

A Time for Heroes nonetheless brings all this together reasonably well, in military and social terms as well as in the personal circumstances of the family sagas of the Sutros and the Kemps, but particularly in terms of it being a coherent story. The WWI wartime episodes are well-researched and well-written, giving a sense of the personal cost within the context of the greater scale of the war, both on the front and back home, the need for heroes and the problems with heroes living up to the high expectations demanded of them. It does perhaps overstate the case at little with some broad strokes of characterisation, but the basic principle is sound and the novel remains an entertaining and enjoyable read throughout.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barnard Flies, 12 Nov 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Paperback)
One of the best reads I've had this year. Superb descriptions - you can smell the engine grease and see the Sussex landscape. His characters are vibrant- some have a touch of Somerset Maugham. The flight sequences are thrilling. This is a man who knows his subject to the finite detail. I strongly recommend it - great holiday reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 8 Sep 2012
By 
Roger (Chiba-ken, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Paperback)
I must admit I had some misgivings when I heard that Frank Barnard was departing from the tried-and-true approach of his previous three novels, which I greatly admired. However, A Time For Heroes is a terrific read and proves that Barnard is a master storyteller, more than capable of handling a narrative that spans the first half of the 20th century. While fans of his previous books will still find enough flying (and motor-racing) action to keep them happy, this time the human element is given greater emphasis, and A Time For Heroes is essentially a riveting family saga which will appeal to a much wider audience. For this reader, episodes such as the pioneering flight from High and Over in Sussex and race days at Brooklands racing circuit are entirely convincing and stick in the memory in a quite mysterious way. Characters, relationships, and class divisions are explored in more depth than before, and at the centre of the story is Guv Sutro, an uneasy mix of bravery, patriotism, self-advertisement, ambition, and ego. This is a novel for everyone interested in people. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barnard flies high!, 21 Aug 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
I love Frank Barnard's writing and this is his best book yet, in my view. He has a wonderful evocation of period, with the grip of a master thriller writer. This is the best novel about this era since Len Deighton's "Bomber". I devoured it in three sittings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Time For Heros. by Frank Barnard, 23 Jun 2012
This review is from: A Time for Heroes (Hardcover)
I was hoping the book would be a good story, in the vein of the books by Julian Fellows, as he has written a recommendation on the back cover. ( Noted when I bought it)I was not disappointed.This is a very enjoyable read. It gives an insight into the world of aviation and history of the two wars that was very informative, without baffling the reader with too much technical information. The storyline is compelling and satisfying. There were places that were really funny and lightened a sometimes diabolical time in dreadful wars. The hero? is a complete monster and you cannot wait to find out what happens to him. Also it captures a local area which played a key part during the wars regarding aviation.An area the author is obviously well familiar with. Highly recommended.
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A Time for Heroes
A Time for Heroes by Frank Barnard (Paperback - 13 Sep 2012)
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