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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First in what Promises to be An Entertaining Series
This is the first in what is hoped to be a series of Jack Lark books.
The second ' The Maharajah's General' has already been published.

It is a good read. exciting informative and captures the army, the battles and paraphernalia of the times well.
At just over 350 pages it does not outstay its welcome once.

True many will link this book to...
Published 2 days ago by Glenn Cook

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something of a disappointment
I'd already read the sequel to this book, and quite enjoyed it, so felt a bit let down by this. There's nothing drastically wrong with it, but it came across as flat and unengaging. This may be because the events of the Crimean War are better known to me than the situation in India (the subject of the second book), and so I'm already familiar with a lot of factual...
Published 6 months ago by T. Russell


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First in what Promises to be An Entertaining Series, 23 July 2014
By 
Glenn Cook (South Cave, near Hull UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This is the first in what is hoped to be a series of Jack Lark books.
The second ' The Maharajah's General' has already been published.

It is a good read. exciting informative and captures the army, the battles and paraphernalia of the times well.
At just over 350 pages it does not outstay its welcome once.

True many will link this book to Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series (along with Patrick OBrien's Aubrey and Maturin along with Forresters Hornblower.) I would also add the little known William Clive's Dando series to that list.
DANDO ON DELHI RIDGE

It is everything you would expect in a book of this ilk, a good central character with flaws and a past, a little romance- great battles and well written (10 out of 10 there) a puzzle and ... well you add the rest.

The sign of a good book is that you are left wanting more.

I certainly was and cannot wait to read the second volume 'he Maharajah's General'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 25 Jan 2014
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very gory and realistic,no glamorisation of the hardliner led by the majority back in the Times of the Crimean war
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start, 14 Dec 2013
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I'm a big fan of this type of military fiction and have plenty to compare this story with, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone looking for a new hero to follow, I hope the author will forgive me comparing the main character with Sharpe, perhaps he will be flattered if I do.

Either way, I certainly look forward to reading more about Jack Lark, come on, let's have a whole series.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best début novels for 2013, 29 April 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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Review

Paul Collard in the form of Jack Lark provide the reader with a new man, not a hero, but a man flawed and heroic, a product of his environment, but with a desire to pull himself away from the squalor that is the lot of the poor man in the 1850's.

His story has flashes of the writing that gave Bernard Cornwell his man Sharpe, but it is also more, There is no pretence to the man which is funny given that his entire career as a Captain is a pretence. He is who he is, even hiding as a Captain the man will out, his colourful language, his ability to think for himself, to act, to think of the men under him and the way they are treated, so many things that would and do set him as a Captain apart. There is a different camaraderie in the book coupled with a small level of romance that were flashes of John Wilcox and his Simon Fonthill series, the interplay between batman and officer.

I'm no expert on the period so cannot say if the history is accurately depicted, but it felt accurate, it felt real, it felt alive.

The story its self contains some of the most riveting battle scenes I have read ever, every line every paragraph and page of the battles had me hooked, riveted to the page, there were times when I was almost as breathless as the exhausted soldiers. Paul Collard put the reader through the mill (almost as much as the soldiers). Death is on a huge scale, but not gratuitous, it merely shows the reader the hell of the battles in the Crimea, and the worthlessness of having a command built on privilege rather than skill, and even the skilled can break in the teeth of the utter horror that is war. It also shows that the writer is not afraid to kill off what would be key characters for other authors.

I really like reading debut books, to see who are the starts of the future, and Paul Collard is most certainly one. Book two cannot come soon enough for me

Book 2 The Maharajah's General is due 21st November 2013 The Maharajah's General

Jack Lark barely survived the Battle of the Alma in Crimea, and his future seemed bleak. But now he's found a way to get back to war, masquerading as a captain who died of his wounds. Arriving in India, Jack finds new enemies to fight, but this time they're on his own side. Unmasked as a fraud, he escapes with the chaplain's daughter, and in desperation, they seek refuge with the Maharajah the British Army is trying to defeat. The Maharajah sees Jack as a curiosity, but recognises a fellow military mind. In return for his safety, Jack must train the very army he came to India to fight. And one day soon, the two sides must meet in battle...

Highly Recommended
(Parm)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a new series that I hope will run and run..., 10 May 2013
Any debut novel with quotes from both Bernard Cornwell and Anthony Riches must have something going for it so I bought this book with confidence. Im pleased to say I was right to do so.

The pace of the book is fast. It is not so quick that you don't get to feel the setting or learn a lot about the period but fast enough that the story flows effortlessly along. I hate historical fiction where the writer shows off their great in-depth knowledge of their period at the expense of a good story. I want the flavour and the feel, I don't want a history book. Collard delivers the right balance.

Jack Lark is a great new hero. I am pleased to see that this is just the first book in a series and I am really looking forward to book two that I see is out in November. I missed the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell. I can only hope
that Jack Lark gets as long a run.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The adventures of a great military opportunist, 13 July 2014
By 
T. J. Sowerbutts (U.K) - See all my reviews
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What a great start to a new series, long may it continue. I knew very little about the war in Crimea with all it's despair & ugliness,a forerunner to the WW1 waste of human life if only those in power had the sense to realise it. It does bring home to the reader how brave the ordinary officers & men of the British Army were despite the very poor leadership & appalling conditions they had to endure. Perhaps a lesson to all. The characters were well thought out with Jack Lark being particularly appealing as a great opportunist who could make full use of the situations that arose. Well done that man & may he long prosper if only the benefit himself & show a thumb to the establishment of the period. His exploits kept me interested right to the very end & I look forward with great anticipation to his further adventures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the start to a great series, 21 Jun 2014
By 
B. Innes "Mtoto" (London) - See all my reviews
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Massive fan of Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwall. This book is not yet at that sort of level but is a pretty rollicking read and with some great military descriptions.

Really hope this is a series that will run and run.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another likeable hero, 16 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark) (Paperback)
Enjoyed it. Good plot and subplots. Gripping description of battles (quite gory) and great historical research. Excellent idea behind the story and surprising characters. Well written and very enjoyable. I recommend it to fans of historical fighting heroes!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and horrifying picture of the atrocities of war., 21 May 2014
This review is from: The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark) (Paperback)
Reading The Scarlet Thief at this point in time was an oddly well-timed choice as it turns out, set as it is in the Crimea. It appears history truly can be cyclical if one compares what is revealed about the origins of the Crimean War with what is happening there now. It was also a closer look at a conflict I've never learned that much about, beyond Florence Nightingale and Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade. And what a hopeless conflict it was. Paul Fraser Collard paints us a vivid and horrifying picture of life at the front and the terrible cost of life, not just to the armed forces on both sides, but to the innocent inhabitants of the Crimea as well, who were burned out of their houses and robbed of all their possessions in a scorched earth policy to deny resources and cover to the enemy. But The Scarlet Thief is more than descriptions of death and horrible war wounds, there is also a lot of humour and a wonderful protagonist who will capture your heart.

Said character is Jack Lark, former mud lark from London's seedier streets. As a commoner, Jack's opportunities for advancement are limited. He will never be able to rise above the rank of a non-commissioned officer, with Quartermaster being the pinnacle of achievement. For a young man set on bettering himself and one who considers many officers incompetents, this is a frustrating situation to be in. He feels that the redcoats are not treated well by their officers and he has some rather progressive (for the time) ideas as to how one should lead his men. The way his frustrated ambitions influence his decisions was interesting, unlike another factor influencing him that I didn't care as much for--his relationship with Molly. Molly was my biggest problem with this book. Not the character in itself, which was fine, but her story arc and how this was used to move the plot forward felt a little clichéd and it's a trope we've seen many times before. Once Jack and his officer, Arthur Sloames, leave the Aldershot garrison to join the King's Royal Fusiliers and ship out to the Crimea the narrative picked up and really started speeding up once Jack arrives at Kalamata Bay.

Collard shows the bleak life of the enlisted (or drafted) men in the Victorian British Army, one on the cusp of modernity with its leaders struggling to adjust their thinking and strategies to new materiel and changing social mores. Jack's leading from the front fits right in with this. Jack starts of despising the other officers thinking them all arrogant aristo's who are only there because they had the money not because they had the skills, but throughout the book he learns that they are not all alike and comes to view them in a different light. In fact, Jack's connection with some of his fellows and first his officer are delightful and one of the strengths of the book. The way he bonds with his orderly was wonderful and I loved how he gains respect for his second-in-command Digsby-Brown. I adored the quiet scenes we're shown of camaraderie between the men and the way that they all become equal, be they enlisted or criminal conscript. But not just Jack's dealing with his friends is wonderfully written, The Scarlet Thief has a fantastic villain in Sergeant Slater and some more equally distasteful characters, most notable the aptly named Major Peacock.

One element that confused me was the troop formations. There were divisions and brigades and companies and they all had different names and in the end I rather lost track of how the command structure worked and who belonged with whom. This difficulty might be due to my unfamiliarity with the British Army of that era, but this was one of those occasions where an appendix showing how the forces were structured would have been useful. Then again, it seems as if once the battle started the hierarchy in and structure of the army didn't really matter in any case, as it's one chaotic mess and many soldiers lost their unit and forgot their orders anyway. The battle depicted is terrifying, chaotic, noisy, stinking of death and blood and an enormous amount of casualties, who often perished from the most gruesome wounds.

The Scarlet Thief is an impressive look at the atrocities of war; unflinching in its descriptions and honest in its assessment of its characters' human nature in all of its beauty and monstrosity. Collard leaves us with a great set up for the following book, which promises to be interesting and very different from the Crimea. I'm curious to see where exactly Jack will go in The Maharajah's General and whether he'll remain there or move on to a new identity after. Needless to say I'll be back to check in with our Mr Lark in the next book, hopefully sooner than later as I already have the review copy for it on my shelf. The Scarlet Thief is a must-read for any lover of military historical fiction.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read, 26 Feb 2014
By 
sjs101 "SJ" (UK) - See all my reviews
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jack lark is a new hero. the book is well written and has a decent pace at which it moves along, which holds the readers interest. I am not usually one for historical fiction but I really enjoyed this book await the next instalment with anticipation.
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The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark) by Paul Fraser Collard (Paperback - 21 Nov 2013)
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