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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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 February 2007
This is a departure from the Legions of Rome for Simon Scarrow, but he has proved that he is not a one trick pony by coming up with another excellent read although he has moved through history by almost 2,000 years.

Set in late 18th century Europe, the book follows the military career of two men who were to become the major driving force of their respective countries. The two men are world's apart, not only in physical distance but also in their backgrounds and upbringing.

on the one hand Napoleon Bonaparte caught up in the sordid dramas of the French Revolution and the wars that France is waging. On the other the young man Arthur, who is to become the Duke of Wellington, blooded in battle in Ireland and Flanders.

Both men have a love of life and a love of women and their nature will not allow anyone or anything to stand in their way.

This is an excellent start to what is sure to be a wonderful series.
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on 12 June 2006
Just finished this. To be honest I love his Roman series and was not quite sure what to make of this foray into the Bernard Cornwell territory of the Duke of Wellignton and Napoleon. However, Scarrow has proved to be as gifted at depicting the manners and setting of the era every bit as believably as he has created the barrack room life of the Roman legions. Young Bloods is the first in a series of four books apparently, so we followers of Conn Iggulden might find this a suitable follow up to the Emperor quartet (except this time there really is an Emperor!).
Young Bloods begins in 1769 when both these sons of destiny were born. It follows their childhood into the first throws of the revolution and by the end of it they are fully fledged soldiers. The book is pacy, the action is breath-taking and there's a real sense of being there as history is being made. I can't wait for the next book.
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on 11 April 2007
I haven't read Scarrow's Eagle books, but keep meaning to, so when I saw his latest offering I thought I'd try him out.

I'm glad I did. Writing in a style very similar to Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden (in that at no time does the story get dull!), Scarrow's idea of alternating the story of Napoleon and Wellington (or Buona Parta and Wesley as they start out in life) makes for an interesting, immensely readable story.

Not knowing too much about either of the protagonists early life, I also learnt a thing or two, and eagerly await the next instalment.
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on 28 March 2006
This is a cracking good yarn! Simon Scarrow has taken the known facts about the boyhood and early careers of Wellington and Napoleon and woven a fascinating pair of stories around them. He moves from one to the other and back again in a skilful way, making the reader want to know what comes next but still be happy to catch up with the other man's progress at the same period of his life. He makes both of them come alive for readers, and puts them in their respective settings so we can understand the attitudes to other people - soldiers, commoners and aristocrats - that they showed later in life. He captures the general thinking of the period very well, on both sides of the Channel and in Corsica, to show the influences around both young men and gives us some great action set-pieces to enjoy as well. I can hardly wait for the next book in this series. Highly recommended!
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on 30 June 2007
I have just recently got into Historical non-fiction and i must say what an introduction to the genre. Young bloods is compelling, tense and exciting. The book keeps you hooked, i found it hard to put down and found myself reading into the early hours of the morning. If this book has one downside i would have to say if you are a busy person you will struggle with the lack of sleep this book allows you. I as a GCSE student found it hard to cope with school life while reading this book, but don't let this stp you. Unless you are a swat, you will not mind messing up your school life for this epic. 5 stars, I am definitely going to buy more historical fiction books. I think i will try Wolf of the plains, after the praise Iggulden recieved for the Emperor series i find it hard to ignore the new Genghis series.
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on 22 June 2007
I was never much bothered about Napoleon and Wellington until I read 'Young Bloods'. As an avid reader of Simon Scarrow's 'Eagle' series, I decided to give this book a go, expecting something similar albeit in an 18th century setting. How wrong I was!

The story is a beauty! Simon skillfully weaves his story back and forth between the two characters, from the circumstances of their birth to the start of their military careers. As they grow up, Scarrow teases out aspects of the personalities they are later to be remembered for in entertaining as well as gripping episodes, that makes the book difficult to put down.

It's made exciting a period of history I was never much interested in, and paints a vivid picture of the main protagonists who dominated European history at that time. A great read! I look forward to the sequel!
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on 7 June 2006
As a massive fan of the Sharpe books the period has always interested me and as as a big fan of the Eagles books I was keen to read this book and was not disappointed.

It was with some apphrension that I picked up the book, so often authors you like start a new series that is different from what they have done before and it turns out to be weaker then what has come before but this an exception. The story flows easily moving from character to the other, and most impressively making each character as interesting as the other, as the book swings from one to the other I found myself suffering annoyance at leaving a character I liked but at the same time pleasure in returning to the tale of a character that I liked just as much! My only complaint? That is ended!

I leave the best praise to till last, in my honest opinion this book is far and away Simon's best offering.
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on 22 March 2006
Young bloods gives you a view of how Wellington and Napoleon grew up, what events influenced and molded them into the 2 of the greatest generals of our time.

The story begins with the 2 protagonists at a very young age simply being young children, even though they live worlds apart some very similar events cause them to settle onto a collision course at Waterloo. We all know what happens at that fateful meeting, but very few of know how they got there, the horror and heartrending decisions that they made/had imposed upon them to create the cool calculation generals that history remembers.

Simon weaves the story masterly, taking you from rural Corsica to central London/Ireland with ease and you never find yourself thinking how did I end up here. You really get a sense of watching the events unfold in front of you and you root for them equally, wiling them on to succeed, and feeling the emotions well up when things go wrong.

For readers of Simon's Eagle series, this is a different look at a different era, and shows us that the author can cross the classes and the centuries with ease. Everyone has read the excellent Sharpe books from Bernard Cornwell, because this is set in the same time line, you'll recognise many locations and events over the series that will remind you of the Sharpe books particularly the early ones from India and the siege of Seringapatum and onto waterloo, over the series.

Young Bloods is the first in series of 4 books, and knowing what i know of the exploits of these 2 generals we've got plenty of great reading ahead of us from a master story teller.
Highly Recommnended!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2011
With this latest book Simon embarks on a new series, Book 1 is based around the young lives of 2 of the great generals from European history, Napoleon and Wellington.
The story Switches easily between life in aristocratic Ireland and rural Corsica, showing the differences in character and environment that shaped these two great men.
I myself have not read much about these two men and this period in history, except Bernard Cornwells Sharpe. I have found in the past that this can put some readers off, but I promise you it will not hinder your reading of this book. This is a great read with easy flowing writing, well paced and full of action.
The characterisation is brilliant, by the end of the book you have real feelings for these 2 men, and amazingly you find yourself switching between supporting the French and wanting them to win, to rooting for the English with their destructive musket volleys.
I have read all of Simons books to date and have enjoyed all of them immensely, but this is in my opinion his best work to date, I think its because the book starts with the main characters from birth and allows you to grow with them on their road to fame and glory! I especially like the little true stories that crop up throughout the book (I will leave it to you to discover these for your-self).
If you are a fan of Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell, David Gemmell or William Napier then this is a must buy for you. (And don't forget to try his eagle series as well)
(Parm)
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