Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
Excellent Historical 'Faction'
on 20 February 2009
As another reviewer noted, Fire and Sword, the third in Simon Scarrow's quartet of books following the lives and careers of Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, is a very different animal to any of the author's 'Eagle' series of novels set during Roman times. Whereas the books following the adventures of centurions Cato & Macro, all of which I can highly recommend, are works of pure fiction with a focus on action and adventure, Fire and Sword along with the two preceding volumes are a mix of historical fact and some fictional license that seek to offer an accurate portrait of the lives of two undoubtedly great (if flawed) men.
In pursuit of this aim both 'Young Bloods' & 'The Generals, the earlier volumes, succeeded admirably and 'Fire & Sword' maintains that record. Sticklers might quibble over idioms of speech the author uses, some of the traits individual characters display or the accuracy of some minor historical facts, but as a work of part fact and part fiction, or 'Faction', 'Fire and Sword' works admirably. It is informative without being dull or dry, holds the reader's attention and imbues the iconic figures on display with real humanity.
Simon Scarrow must also be congratulated for again crafting a book that is so satisfying out of real historical events without the need to substantially alter the facts. The twists and turns of history, whilst often fascinating, do not always unfold in a way that makes for smooth story-telling. Battles aren't always won when they should be and big events don't always coincide with the timing of a book's big finale. With straight bio-graphical history this is not a problem but with a novel like Fire & Sword however, it can be. Readers of novels, even ones based on fact, expect a story that unfolds in a dramatically satisfying fashion. Simon Scarrow once again manages to offer that, and the result is a book that feels cohesive and self-contained rather than just a series of episodes in a larger story; an accomplishment which is a hell of a trick to pull off once but he has now done three times.
If you haven't read Young Bloods or The Generals I suggest you go back to the beginning of the series and start there. You'll find doing so to be very worthwhile. If you're a fan of Scarrow's Eagle series chances are you'll find this series just as enjoyable. If however, you're looking for pure action adventure or something along the lines of Cornwell's Sharpe this may not be for you. The same applies if you're looking for pure historical fact and analysis. There are biographies of both Napoleon and Wellington and wider studies of the period that will provide far more detail than this series. If like me however, you want real, world changing historical events offered in an accessible, exciting form you cannot go far wrong with the Revolution series and its latest instalment.