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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 June 2013

Author Iain Gale begins a new series with his protagonist James Keane, and oh what a series it is. I will not pretend to know the history of this type of Soldier in this period. But Keane commands the first example of Special forces for the British Army. A company of men with exceptional skills, and like most highly skilled and tuned men, men with their own flaws and issues. These men are the top of their field, but don't think SAS, imagine the time period and the pool being pulled from. Heroic, but flawed. Keane must shape this group, a group with access to the best materials and also privy to information the enemy would kill to get their hands on, into the best of the best. Viewed with suspicion, envy and potentially awe by their comrades in other units, the regular troops, cannon fodder.

This is a must for those who love Sharpe and or the peninsular war. It takes the sort of story a Sharpe fan would love and takes it to the next level. Anyone who knows Iain Gales work will already be aware that he is an exceptional writer, skilled in bringing the sights sounds smells and brutality of war out on the page and alive in the imagination.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell: please do beware this covers the same ground trodden by the illustrious Sharpe, and as such there can be only one hero... But also remember, Sharpe is fictional, as is Keane, so don't expect Sharpe to save the day in Gales book. There is an element of the Dirty Dozen style in the band, but for me that added to the enjoyment, in this style plenty may shall I say... Magnified, something that seems a little unbelievable, but remember these boys are the elite company. This really is action adventure set with a historical back ground, something I suspect would have been published in Boys own once upon a time.

In summary...Loved it, bring on book 2.

Highly recommend

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on 1 July 2013
A new novel about the Peninsular War is always going to be put onto my immediate reading list as a must read, with background in reading and wargaming about the period for some time. And with this book I really wanted to enjoy it, both with an interesting storyline and with the assurance of Iain Gale's previous novels in the Jack Steel series and Four Days in June. Taking the typical historical fiction route of taking the events of the Oporto Campaign as its setting, disgraced card sharp officer James Keane is ordered to form a new unit in the Corps of Guides, discover the traitor, help the guerrilla's, win the battle, save Arthur Wellesley's honour and win the girl, while dodging evil officers on his own side, being maverick and different, while commanding a unit of prisoners, rogues and individuals. Good, solid breadth for lots of expansion. Then it goes downhill. For a start a basic back story is presented, all good and dandy, but Keane in himself is almost presented as this superhuman, with no flaws, perfect, who seems to have held every position in the army, been at every battle, know and talk himself out of all situations, never upsetting anyone and yet upsetting everyone else. He's supposed to be a maverick, individual rogue and yet throughout the story seems to fit perfectly well into the mess and be a liked individual. Details of his units and fighting experience are repeated throughout the book, but he switches from a battalion officer, to commander of the light company of his original regiment and details of his weapons change, from a sabre to a scimitar and from a carbine to a Baker rifle. His band of ne'er-do-wells are perfectly happy to settle down and get married, agree with everything Keane says, are totally disciplined and generally are the opposite of what they are thought to be like, making the main characters very shallow (also a very likeable friendly Wellington, slightly scary). Equally the story becomes too predictable and seems to have far too many loopholes through which Keane as an officer comes out shining of roses, with few cliff hangers created and every thread of story resolved, leaving little to look forward to reading in the following book. That and a preponderance of simple mistakes throughout the story in grammar, word order and punctuation just act as niggling annoyances. It is not obviously my place to tear apart his story on what are merely details, the historical detail is there and the story has potential. It is just a case of the focus and in depth nitty-gritty of the story being pulled out. Iain Gale obviously knows his subject from the undoubted successes of his previous novels, his position on the Waterloo2015 committee and his reputation as a wargamer. That said this novel will undoubtedly be compared to Sharpe. Don't try too hard Iain Gale in creating a new Sharpe, make James Keane his own character and then the story will be much more enjoyable
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on 17 May 2013
ok the dirty dozen lift irritated a bit to start as did the silly editorial mistakes which do appear in the first part, but and i do mean but this is a great scene setter for what could be a great little series of stories.

the author writes in a light and simple engaging style. His books, this and others are just what they say on the tin. Fun adventures not history and i look forward to the rest.

formulas work for a reason and these are very pleasing to satisfy when the mood takes. Thank you Mr gale.
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on 25 June 2013
The premise of the book is very good as is the possible story of the building of the team. But I was getting increasingly frustrated as the book went on. The story line was becoming too unbelievable as I turned every page. Then to use the same battle as in Sharpe's Havoc but then hand it to Keane was too much!

I'm a big fan of Sharpe and have been since 1985. This book can be in no way compared to any of Bernard Cornwell's - who in this genre is on his own.

On a brighter note I've read many of Iain's other books and found them all to be pretty good.
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on 26 June 2013
Weak characters, plotlines that were left hanging in the air, weak description of crossing the River Douro in 1809.- Sharpe's Havoc is so much better. But for the quote attributed to Bernard Cornwell on the cover, this smacks of a rejected first novel that has been issued on the back of later successes. Give this one a miss..
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on 26 June 2013
It's wrong to draw comparisons with Bernard Cornwell's `Sharpe's havoc', in the sense of any war book in any era. WW2 is littered with cross-over adventures across all fronts by thousands of authors. So, I read Keane's Company with a view of reading it as a stand-alone adventure.

The problem with this book for me is the weak characterisation from the very start; Gale fails to invest in them, leaving the reader slightly bored and failing to engage. It's an adventure story by numbers, with a prologue setting up James Keane's disgrace and as `punishment' handed a role of leading a group of soldier's behind enemy lines.

The book really needed to be taken by an enthusiastic editor and push Gale harder to develop the characters and locations in greater detail and turn a clichéd premise into something a little more worthwhile. As it stands it's a novel of thumbnail images threaded through a tenuous plot.

Certainly not worth the price.
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on 25 December 2014
A good read but could have had a little more detail on the privations that the soldiers suffered the lack of food and shelter poor equipment while the soldiers in charge of supplies made money by selling it to anybody willing to pay. I look forward to the next book,
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on 6 April 2015
The kind of book that the writer has got the pace of the story and attention to detail just right. The characters and plot keeps you interested nott wanting to stop reading
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on 11 October 2015
Like many others, my initial thoughts are that this will be a pale imitation of Sharpe, but Keane would appear to have his niche. The plot is a bit fanciful and the historical accuracy maybe not as well researched as Cornwell's, but if I wanted a history lesson, there are many good books I could choose from.
This is a pacey, gripping read, with great characters and plenty of action. I choose the audio book version to entertain me on long drives, and it was well read. There's room for Sharpe and Keane out there. Can't wait to download the next instalment.
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on 5 April 2014
I had high expectations for this book. It had every opportunity of being an excellent historical fiction of the Peninsular war. It fell at every hurdle. The writing was stilted and cliqued. Typical of an amateur authors first book. The story line was contrived and too conveniently constructed to show the unnatural characteristics of the main characters. As a result they came through with little or no personality. The historical setting was poorly portrayed and laboured. Historical accuracy was also poor. The author did not, for instance understand the difference between a carbine and a musket or the way these were loaded and fired, and seemed unfamiliar with artillery ammunition. Heresy for the description of troops and battles of this period. I persevered till the end but it was a struggle and I was glad to put it aside.
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