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on 14 June 2017
This is one of the best series of novels I've ever read. Difficult to put the books down.
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on 8 June 2016
Simon Scarrow is the master he is fantastic, when reading I feel as though I am in the battles with the sounds of gun and canon fire, can`t put Simon Scarrow down. More please keep them coming and I will buy.
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on 6 October 2015
Good book. Good author
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on 26 April 2017
Great read, kept interest all the way through
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An excellent series.
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on 7 April 2017
very good
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2011
I really struggled with what to write for this review, the story its self was never going to be a huge surprise, we all know the basic plot.
But it's so easy for this sort of this to be told in a dry bland fashion.
Anyone who has read the first 3 books in the series (Young Bloods, Generals, Fire and Sword) will know that Simons writing is anything but dry and bland, he brings
forth the pace and characterisation of his hugely popular fictional eagles series and applies the writing skill to a more confined writing area, having to stick to the bounds of real people and what they actually did, rather than the freedom of fictional characters who can play around in a time period, yet he still brings these people to life in just the same way something you just don't often see with many writers these days.

This book is no small offering at 500+ pages its easy to class it as a hefty tome, and yet it was the first book in my hand luggage for holiday this year (my fault for starting it a few days before we left, but there was no way I was waiting a week to finish it). Its very easy to say you cannot put a book down, but it really is the case with all 4 of the books in this series, not only are they fun , absorbing, escapism and exciting but they are also hugely entertaining and educational as well.

This book is sure to top the charts and deservedly so, I think every author has a crowning achievement in their writing repertoire (and who knows Simon may prove me wrong and go on to write even better...I can only hope) but for me this could be his master piece. David Gemmell wrote his Troy Series to culminate his career, Feist wrote The Empire Series early in his career, you never know when that perfect storm of writing skill, character, plot etc will happen, maybe this is Simons?

Either way this is a must buy for this year, if you have not read the rest of the series then buy the lot, it's a real treat.
(parm)
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on 10 July 2011
Having read most of Bernard Cornwell's novels, it is surprising that I only picked up this novel by chance on my way to a holiday in Corsica. Cornwell's comment on the back cover being quoted that he does not need this kind of competition pushed my decision to buy it. And what a gem it turned out to be!

The pace of the story is high and with the story alternating from Wellington to Napoleon it builds a great suspense that makes you want to read on and find out what happens next, despite the fact that most of us already know how the book will end. The descriptions of the various battles with their tactical decisions for infantery, cavalry and artillery are gripping and revealing at the same time. Not only the issues that both commanders faced in battle are described, but also in other matters like retreats, supply lines and communication lines. And yet this is all written as a tale and not just a historic description.

Where Cornwell's books are often written from the perspective of a fictional character close to the main historic person, this book is written from the perspective of Napoleon and Wellington themselves. There is therefore a greater sense of getting to know these characters more intimate and being closer to where the action is. At the same time I must assume there has to be some more colouring of the characters by Scarrow using his writer's creativity. Wellington is portrayed as an integer, righteous man that wins symphaty that becomes the good guy while Napoleon is the impatient, insensitive self glorifying commander that therefore tends to become the baddie. I wonder if the contrast would have been painted this strong had Scarrow been a French writer.

Although this is the 4th book in a series, it reads equally fine as a stand alone. I have never felt that the story referred to a past event that was described in a previous book.

If you like Cornwell's books, then there is a good chance you will like this one as well.
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on 1 July 2010
Well, we seem to have been waiting for this book for a very long time.

Was it worth that torturous hiatus?

Undoubtedly so! This is by far the best book in the series and was well worth the frequent checks on Amazon for the publishing date and the eventual trip to the local bookstore on the morning of its release.

What of the content itself?

The book follows Arthur as he continues his campaign across the Peninsula, over the Pyrenees and eventually into France. Napoleon's adventures begin with battles against the Austrians, continue as he makes the ill-fated decision to invade Russia and come to an end as he is forced to abdicate at which point he is exiled to Elba. As is to be expected the book and the series reach a climax at the infamous Battle of Waterloo when Napoleon and Wellington finally have the opportunity to cross swords. The final few pages give us a glimpse of the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, but the book really comes to an end at Waterloo.

From the moment I picked this book up, I struggled to put it back down again. Work and sleep were unnecessary obstacles which forced me to grudgingly set the book down for a while. I have read all of Scarrow's previous books, but I have to congratulate him on the way he made me feel sorry for Napoleon during his inglorious retreat from the depths of Russia when everything was going wrong and turning to ashes. I think this is the sign of a truly gifted writer, when the reader can sympathise with the chief villain.

I have to ask; was that a cheeky reference to our beloved Richard Sharpe when Wellington meets the unusual Major who carried a Rifle and spoke with what appeared to be a slightly Northern accent? Definitely not, I hear the publishers cry! I thought it was brilliant all the same.

This series has given me many hours of pleasurable reading. After finishing the book I was left pondering whether or not more books could have been written to expand the series further. I think the answer to that question is yes, without a doubt; the author could have completely changed the appearance of this series by writing a detailed account of the Napoleonic Wars. On the other hand, would a lengthy series have made for truly engrossing, page turning, historical fiction? Probably not! I think the author has managed to get the balance just right with this series. At the end I was left thinking `I wish there was more'. As a result I will be guaranteed to buy Scarrow's next book in an attempt to fill the gap.

If you have stumbled on this book by a random search, I implore you to start with the first book in the series `Young Bloods' and work your way through.

You certainly won't regret it.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2010
The cover would have you believe this weighty tome is all about Waterloo, which would have been a bit much even for that great fight. Truth is, it's about the whole Peninsula War so begins in 1809 at Talavera. Not only that, in order to get the balance right, it covers Napoleon's campaigns in Austria and Russia. That, I think, is one of the problems I have with this book - it attempts too much. Because of that, inevitably some things are overlooked or not gone into and perhaps others given too much. The disastrous retreat from Moscow is given about as much room as Waterloo itself. OK, I know some would argue it was equally important I suppose? Others writing here have wished for more about St Helena and the alleged poisoning [try 'The Emperor's Last Island' if you want more]. I did get a bit battle-weary at some stages in Spain; Badajoz, for example, gets mega coverage. But it's easy to forget that this is essentially a work of non-fiction. Scarrow's research appears excellent but he has [to my knowledge] nothing but real people and events and let's face it, that's something you can't change. I am, however, glad I'm not the only one to have spotted the cameo appearance of A Certain Person [on p359]!! That was a nice touch. All this makes it appear that I didn't enjoy the book but the truth is that I did - for the most part. I did find it long and unlike others, I'm not sure it's the best of the series but Scarrow is a fine writer who I will continue to go back to. This has been a mighty undertaking which may make him afeared of revisiting the Peninsula and staying with good old Cato. We'll see!
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