This is an excellent story around one of the many classic "gunboat diplomacy" operations carred out during the rise of the British Empire. This time it is the Boxer Rebellion against which is set some nerve jangling set-piece actions on sea and land.
In addition there is a brilliant love story between a British officer and a German countess caught up in the rebellion. This is touchingly done in a true-romance way. This contrasts with the brutality of the rebellion and the professional and throughness of the British forces in stamping it out. There are other sub-stories around Blackwood's cousin and many of the other charachters which are all well drawn. It is a story that stays in your mind for some time after, which is a testament to how well it is written.
This is the second book in the Royal Marines Saga/Blackwood novels. I found this a good read and an excellent follow on from book 1 in the series (Badge of Glory). The Blackwood family theme continues but with a fresh complement of characters,events and historical backdrop.
His second book to deal with the Royal Marines, this time at the time of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. The author does action and the navy elements very well and this is fast paced and easy reading. Reeman's weakness usually revolves around the ladies and there is a terrible love interest in here that just does not fit and detracts from the story, but apart from that this is entertaining stuff and while not the authors best, is diverting enough.
The First to Land is in my opinion one of the best novels dealing with small scale combat in one of Britain's 'little wars'. The characters are well developed, the story is interesting, the romance is just right and the battles are exciting and believable. The story follows on well from the equally excellent Badge of Glory. I just wish it was a longer tale.
Second book in the Blackwood Royal Marines saga and my favourite out of the series. Action-packed with excellent characters and events. A naff love affair interest - goes with the territory of the series. If you enjoyed the film - 55 Days in Peking - then you will love the Boxer Revolt scene in the book.
I have liked reading Douglas Reeman for some time, but had only read the WWII books. I looked on the website 'Fantastic Fiction' and found he had another series of books about the Blackwood family. I bought the first in the series, 'Badge of Glory' just to see what it was like. Although it was set in the old Royal Navy with sailing ships (1850), and recounted the tales of the first of the Blackwoods in the Royal Marines, I found I liked it and bought a couple more. These follow different generations of Blackwoods, all in the marines, as they go to war. This one is 50 years later and is about Captain David Blackwood V.C. and his exploits in the Boxer Rebellion in China. It is well written and 'sucked me in' rapidly. Recommended.
Have read the 4 books in this set a number of time but still learn a lot about war, some of it great, other parts tell of the stupidity of the top brass and their lack of using modern methods to fight the wars of the period. I have been to the western front to see the trenches and battle fields it is very hard to relate what I read in this book in real terms but knowing it true or most of it.