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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Good Third Outing.
Well, after Norway and France, James Holland has Tanner fighting in Crete. I enjoyed the book, taking into account other reviews I think the story telling was out of the pages of the "Victor" I read as a boy and in this day and age, it was no bad thing for that. Granted some of the Cretans were taken from the film "Ill Met By Moonlight" which incidentally was on telly...
Published on 5 Aug 2010 by Nicholas Peacock MA

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good, the bad & the ugly
'Blood of Honour' is the third Jack Tanner adventure (the previous two involving the retreat from Norway and the Retreat through France to Dunkirk). This time its 1941 and Jack and company are retreating through Greece to Crete with Sgt (now CSM) Tanner getting increasingly angry at spending his entire war going backwards. Sadly with Kurt Students Fallschrimjager heading...
Published on 11 Jun 2010 by Peter Symonds


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good, the bad & the ugly, 11 Jun 2010
'Blood of Honour' is the third Jack Tanner adventure (the previous two involving the retreat from Norway and the Retreat through France to Dunkirk). This time its 1941 and Jack and company are retreating through Greece to Crete with Sgt (now CSM) Tanner getting increasingly angry at spending his entire war going backwards. Sadly with Kurt Students Fallschrimjager heading his way this isn't going to change anytime soon. 'Blood of Honour' is a fast paced adventure story in as the Daily Mail quote says 'the style of the old Commando comics' because of this it has some very good features but also some very bad ones:

The Good: I was fortunate enough to be on Crete for the 50th anniversary of the invasion, visited the battlefields and cemeteries and later was very good friends with some Greeks, including one girl who's grandfather was a leader in the Cretan resistance (and still has a barn full of brand new, 60 year old captured weapons in case the Germans come back.... ). As such I'm a good position to judge Hollands accuracy and he does a very, very good job. Crete is unusual in that the Cretans have made a point of not cleaning up much of the debris of WW2 so a bridge dropped by the Royal Engineers over the Travanites river is still lying where it fell, the hotel I stayed in had a German radar dish lying in the long grass near the beach, old Venetian forts still have bleached wooden signs with 'VERBOTTEN!' written on them and in Heraklion harbour there's a sunken freighter occupying some valuable wharf space with obvious cannon holes in the bridge. The Cretans don't want to forget the battle. The epicentre of the battle was at Malame airfield which was defended primarily by New Zealanders so rather that try to come up with an unlikely scenario to put Tanner at Malame he sensibly deploys the Yorks Rangers around Heraklion. The description of the geography round the city is spot on, the accounts of the incredible losses the Germans suffered well written, the assessment of the weapons used perfect (for instance Holland reckons correctly that a sub machine gun is useless beyond 40 yards). I like the way that periodically the action jumps to Freybergs HQ to explain whats happening beyond Tanner's battlefield which puts the whole battle into context. Basically so far its a very readable history.....

The Bad: .... and this is the problem. Its meant to be fiction. While the events told are 5* Holland is far less skilled at writing fiction. The characters in the book are 2 dimensional at best and the description of the conditions Tanners men experience doesn't convince. A book like Alistair MacLains 'HMS Ullyses' makes you feel cold when you read it. You almost experience the biting howl of an arctic gale. Other historical fiction writers like the great George McDonald Fraser or even Bernard Cornwell can write great descriptive prose and also get the facts right. When Cornwell writes about the sweat, smoke and blood of a battlefield I'm at Talavera. When Holland writes about fighting on Crete I'm not in Crete. Heraklion is a hot, dusty, noisy, smelly city but none of that comes across in the writing. Basic geography apart the action could be set anywhere for all the difference it makes. Likewise the fighting on Crete was some of the nastiest of the war yet there's little suspense, little fear and you know the good guys are going to do O.K. even though the outcome of the battle isn't a suprise. There's a pointless feud with a Greek Partisan that highlights how proud and fierce the Cretans are but it starts and ends in such an unconvincing way that it would have been better edited out. Finally the bit that really let the book down:

The Ugly:.... Crete was unique in that it had major civilian resistance from the start of the invasion. Other nations like France took years before effective partisan groups started fighting but on Crete, men woman & children were waiting for the Germans with old hunting rifles and knives and butchered any German they could get their hands on. In fact it took all the powers of the British and New Zealand commanders to stop some serious massacres being carried out. In reprisal the German paras committed some very nasty war crimes such as the massacres at Kondomari & Kandanos. The german para officer Holland describes is presumably based on Oberleutnant Horst Trebes the officer commanding the firing squad at Kondomari. Holland's German transfered from the SS to the Paras and is indistinguishable from the SS Captain Tanner fought with in the previous book. He's a teutonic beast straight out of the worst 1960's comics. Holland repeatedly uses lines like 'using the techniques he learnt in the SS.... ' 'his time in the SS taught him that.... ' and reinforces the myth that only the SS carried out war crimes. On Crete there were no SS and massacres of civillians were carried out throughout the entire war by regular German soldiers. Worst of all Holland is describing really, really horrible events that are still remembered by many Greeks today in such a way that its little different from Herr Flick in 'Allo 'Allo "torturing" Rene from the cafe. There's no passion, no drama, no suspense and its all very matter of fact. Again comparing it to Bernard Cornwell is falls short.... Cornwell can describe atrocities (Sharpes Gold springs to mind) carried out against civillians in a way that revolts. Holland doesn't.

As a page turner 'Blood of Honour' is O.K, not great but O.K. However compared to the Cretan action in Evelyn Waughs The Sword of Honour Trilogy: Men at Arms, Officers and its very shallow. Its great that someone is writing historical action thrillers set in WW2. We really need a Sharpe or Hornblower from the 1940's but I'm not convinced that Sgt Tanner is that character.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Good Third Outing., 5 Aug 2010
By 
Nicholas Peacock MA (ConnahsQuay, Flintshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Well, after Norway and France, James Holland has Tanner fighting in Crete. I enjoyed the book, taking into account other reviews I think the story telling was out of the pages of the "Victor" I read as a boy and in this day and age, it was no bad thing for that. Granted some of the Cretans were taken from the film "Ill Met By Moonlight" which incidentally was on telly this afternoon, it is no secret the Cretans carried out the most blood-thirsty resistence of all the occupied territories during the Second World War. Germans do not go on holiday to Crete, when I was there 20 years ago the British were accorded great warmth and respect. The book was formulaic in that Tanner had a nasty German officer bent on revenge in general and him in particular, NOTE: Tanner would have killed the b-stard at the first opportunity, and of course a British officer who knew him as a boy, which was pretty much what went on in book two.
A couple of errors which should have been catered for, first in the book he is a Colour Sergeant Major, when in fact he is a Company Sergeant Major. He shows a medal ribbon for gallantry but we never find out what it was awarded for? Norway or France?
In the next book Tanner should be given that Field Commission I keep harping on about, lets face it the men call him sir already. There were segments I found unconvincing but overall a good read, but not the best in the series. The Odin Mission takes the prize, so far!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read. A good series., 7 Jan 2012
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I really enjoy James Holland's approach with this series. As has been said in earlier reviews, the stories are woven into actual events. I think it is very well done and is a good way to learn of these events. I was inspired to read more deeply about Dunkirk after book 2 for instance and will do so with regard to Crete. These early novels are set during the darker days when the Allies were in retreat. Jack Tanner, as the lead character is not so invincible that he can avoid having the proverbial kicked out of him but he always wins through in the end in the platoon level actions he is involved with. I actually think the story lines are improving as the series gets established and look forward to more. I have read most of the Sharpe novels and think the Jack Tanner books compare very favourably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sgt Tanner gets his feet wet again...., 25 Oct 2010
By 
P. Brooks "Peter Brooks" (Manchester, England.) - See all my reviews
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Sgt Tanner like the British Army of the Period did a lot of Retreating. I hope by the time Sgt Tanner goes on the offensive this potentially outstanding series improves too!
Mr Holland knows his stuff but something still lacks - he doesn't have the ability to put you there in the story like Bernard Cornwell or John Harris Could.
His Detail regarding Weapons, Equipment and Locales is first rate however does Sgt Tanner really need to get his "Leg Over" with ever tale told?

Still all said and done I will be saving my 'Hard Earned Gelt' to Pre-Order Mr Holland's Next Jack Tanner Novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Boys Own stuff, 8 July 2010
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This is the third novel by James Holland to feature his WW2 hero, Jack Tanner. A blend of those old war comics that some of us read as kids, Bernard Cornwell style stories and the author's historical knowledge. Cornwell comparisons are inevitable, but the author rightly identified a cap in the market for Sharpe like stories set in the Second World War. In general the series is fun and does exactly what is says on the tin, a fast moving action story laced with slightly over the top bad guys, incompetent officers and good old British fighting spirit.

Here we have Tanner in Crete helping fend off the German invasion. In fairness to the author, he tries to flesh out Tanner a little more. Our hero arrives on the Island a bit grumpy about the way the allied forces are retreating and it does not take long for him to upset a new officer and the leader of the local partisans. We also learn a few more snippets about his background which helps add to the character.

As German paratroopers drop onto Crete, Tanner and his men are involved in fierce fighting, but after initial success the situation changes and Tanner and co end up retreating towards the mountains and needing the support of the partisans that he has made enemies of. So it has pace and drama a plenty, it sometimes lacks a bit of the atmosphere of the time, the culture and the climate. It's an place and aspect of WW2 that I knew little about and perhaps could have done with more atmospheric background but this is still boys own stuff and an easy fun read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ravening a blood drinker you may be,yet will i glut your tast for blood, 15 July 2010
I was not sure what we were going to get with this third outing of Jack Tanner,as i thought he had lost his way in the Darkest Hour,which was a disappointment as the Odin Mission had been so good.I am please to report that all is well and we are back on form with Blood of Honour.This had me page turning well into the dark hours of the night.We are back in the dark days of the Second World War on the Island of Crete with Colour Sergeant-Major Jack Tanner and Sergeant Sykes of the King`s Own Yorkshire Rangers and we know from the start it is not going to go well.This has all the ingredients of a good old-fashion action pack adventure, put together by soneone who know`s and loves his subject,James Holland draw`s you into the time and the place,which had me hooked and unable to put it down until the very end.It was good to get more meat on the bone about Tanner past life,as well as a little bit of romance,we need a Richard Sharpe for this period and Jack Tanner could be our man.We are left with our chiselled protagonist with his boots on and leaving the Island with few regrets and i hope he moves on to more adventures in the not to distant future.In the last year we have had three really good reads set in the Second World War,Death or Glory by Michael Asher,Blood of Honour and for me the best of them all Alamein by Iain Gale.James Holland also has had another book out this year,the 70 anniversary of the Battle of Britain, on the Battle of Britain, a great read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, 8 April 2012
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As a Military historian I couldn't wait to read this book. The author had immense knowledge of WW2 and it shows throughout this book. Its like the old Commando comics but for adults! I would definitely recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still good the second time around, 24 Mar 2014
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P. M. Otter "PatrickOtter" (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood of Honour (Jack Tanner 3) (Kindle Edition)
It was only when I was 20 pages in to my Kindle edition I realised I'd read this before. But it was certainly good enough to be worth a second reading even though some of the characters and the non-stop action seem drawn from the comic book characters of the 1950s. It's not the best of the Tanner series but James Holland has set the bar pretty high.
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5.0 out of 5 stars review, 14 Mar 2014
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would recommend this author for a great read,based on ww2 reality not to far fetched the seargent tanner is a great character in these books,part of a series
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of experience spoils story, 4 Mar 2014
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Although James Holland is a very good historian his lack of service experience lets him down. There are a number of inconsistencies that add up to spoil what is a laudable attempt to write a 'Sharpe for WW2'.
He refers to a CSM as a Colour Sgt Major when the correct rank is Company Sgt Major. He also frequently quotes Jack Tanner as using Hindi as part of British Army slang while this is correct he would be more likely to use 'Jeldi' than 'Iggery', this was still in use in the Army in the '60's.
Carrying a telescopic sight separately from the rifle and fitting it - in action, and then achieving a first round hit at 400+ yds is pure Hollywood. The rifle and sight would have needed to be re zeroed after having been separated.
The fallshirmjager jumping with his rifle slung over his shoulder.and MP40 machine pistol strapped to him is again totally impractical. The German parachute was awkward to use with the soldier hanging from a single point of contact with no control over his descent and a very clumsy landing roll.Which is why the Luftwaffe dropped their weapons in a separate container. Furthermore carrying two heavy weapons of different calibres necessitating two kinds of ammo is an unlikely complication for any infantryman, let alone with a pistol of a third calibre, hence the use of 9mm for the Walther P38 and Luger P08 pistols and the machine pistol MP38/40.
The Germans were aware of the shortcomings of the MP40 and Kar 98k combination which is why they attempted to overcome these with the FG42. Unfortunately, as the Americans discovered with the M14,a full power rifle cartridge used in the fully automatic role becomes unmanageable which led to the StGw 44, the first assault rifle. This used the Kurz (short) 7.92 x 33 mm round. This was much more successful and heavily copied by the Russians and became the AK47.
It is also evident that James Holland has never handled, let alone thrown, either of the hand grenades he mentions, the No 38 grenade, used by the British Army from 1915 till the '70's and the German Model 24 'potato masher'
Having said all this his research is excellent on the historical side and the foregoing will not prevent me from reading the others in the series.
I do wish Amazon didn't put an American spellchecker on their review system.
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