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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.
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on 2 January 2009
One of the problems with books written in a series - this being the third of (reportedly) four - is waiting for the next one to be published! After waiting for some twelve months for this one, and having read it within two days over the New Year, I am going to find it very difficult to wait for the final volume in this fascinating series. I just couldn't put this one down. By the author's own admission these are fictional accounts based on historical fact, but they are truly engrossing for anyone interested in Wellington, Napolean and this period of European and British history. Please hurry up with the next volume!
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VINE VOICEon 8 May 2009
As a constant reader and reviewer of historical fiction, or more the point 'faction' I believe this genre has recently been labelled, Simon Scarrow is one of my favourites with Iggulden & Cornwell. This is much more recent than his Roman novels, and it that aspect much more accurate. As normal with Scarrow, he has an excellent way of telling a story, keeping you engrossed whilst teaching you a history lesson at the same time. OK, this is probably biased against the French and pro British, especially in the way in this novel he talks about Arthur and Napoleon, however he certainly doesn't hold back from criticising the British when he needs to, especially about the politics, old school army generals and the treatment of the Irish. This once again is a superb, gripping tale, but as with some of the other reviewers on here I am frustrated that I probably won't be able to read the last instalment for another year.
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Originally designed to be a trilogy Simon took the step to extend the series by another book so that it wouldn't be rushed in any way. This I feel was not only a brave step by the author but a necessity as otherwise a lot of the beautiful prose along with descriptive work that has carefully been laid down in the previous two books would have been for nought and really not done justice to the pair of historical nemesis. Its well written, lovingly crafted by an author who cares for what he creates and above all deals with a period of history that France and Britain are both proud. It's going to be interesting to see the final build up to the epic conclusion of the series and one that's really going to enthral fans of historical fiction even though the outcomes set in stone. An author I sincerely wish I'd had teaching me history at school.
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on 7 June 2015
First in the four part series. I love history and reading it in an interesting and entertaining novel is even better. Yes, part of it is tweaked and manipulated so it is not as historically accurate as say a historical book on Wellington or Napoleon. That being said, Sinin Scarrow really knows his stuff and would only cut out what he thought was necessary. I really like his work and this is some of his best yet! Also, it's really exciting to read several chapters about one general and then switch to the other during the same time frame. It works well.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2009
I felt this series started fairly well and then improved hugely with Book 2. Sadly, I feel this one is a slight blip ahead of what I'm confident will be a barnstormer to finish. There's a lot of politics here, inevitably I suppose, both in Britain and France and I'm afraid I tended to lose interest in Napoloeon's long slog in Austria. Whether it's me, or Scarrow, or both [?] but I felt he was much better when dealing with Sir Arthur. However, one thing the book achieved was to make me dislike both leaders who come across [probably rightly] as avid warmongers when the common people of both Britain and France were crying out for peace. Scarrow's research throughout is excellent but it's important to realise that this series is non-fiction. He's tried fairly successfully to make it read as a novel but there can be no getting away from the facts, given what he's set out to do. There is no Sharpe here, who can do more or less what he likes within broad historical parameters. Wellesley can't do that, any more than Napoleon. Book 4 will clearly be about the Peninsula and as such I look forward to it very much. Those who've read Sharpe will be at home! One more thing - the cover. It mentions that the book is about Wellington [sic] and Napoleon's attempt to dominate Europe. Then adds the idiotic question 'Who will win?'. And anyway, he won't be 'Wellington' until Book 4. It's the publishers' fault but I'm surprised Scarrow allowed it.
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on 22 December 2013
These are truly remarkable tales and whilst fact is interlaced with fiction what a story this is, I've already downloaded the next instalment and am looking forward to getting stuck in. Simon Scarrow is a master story teller.
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on 17 September 2015
For fans of the historical novel, the third installment of this series is more of the same facinating intuative insight into the lives of these two great men, and the huge influence they had right across the Europe and the rest of the world. Compelling and exciting, I don't want the series to end, but also can't wait to begin the final installment!! For solace I can take comfort from the fact thet Simon Scarrow has an ever increasing catalogue for us all to explore. Highly recommended.
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on 8 January 2013
All of the series are very in formative. Bringing the two lives in parallel is very helpful . It is useful to read up on Wekipedia about the lives of the various characters and not just the two main ones
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on 23 March 2013
The task and scale of these series is huge. Sometimes you wish Scarrow would .....just keep writing. Things are skipped,but they have to be to maintain the flow, who cc h is achieved everyone. Great read.
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