on 13 August 2013
I have not read every page but started it; read a fair bit, then moved on - read a bit more and read a fair bit before the end! Maybe that is a comment but I've been busy and it's not meant to be.
First, on the positive side, he is a superlative writer and can create charming repartee and excellent scenes - the Trafalgar battle for instance is exceptional as a narrative of ship conflict. So, this is an accomplished writer (all in my view it goes without saying).
However, and bear in mind I did not read all of it; I find the main character tends to slip inexorably from the noose to his next mission half way through the book (I will say no more as I do not want to spoil the reader's pleasure); this dramatic license is I guess necessary to preserve him but Ethan is clearly a Flashman come Sharpe type character who is (aren't they all) fantastically "un-killable!" This dramatic license is okay I guess but added to it; to my mind, is the rather weak plot about the barbed crown replacement at Napoleon's coronation. So, I just felt it was artistry hung on a poorly thought out plot peg. It's just my view and I guess ideas for these novels are never easy but I was not convinced that it was realistically feasible - Ethan's interaction in it all; nor the barbed crown idea. But, the writing saves it - I felt. Because of that I am giving it 4* but if I judged on the plot and realism of the character itself, rather than its context of action; it would be less.