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Publisher's Summary

It's 1814, and Napoleon is hard-pressed to defend France from a combination of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Britain. Nor is he the only one in a quandary.

Matthew Hervey, a young British cornet, is in a rather unusual situation. As far as he knows, it's highly irregular to be arrested on a battlefield after a successful action.

Still, it's hardly the first time politics has interrupted war, and as Hervey's career progresses, he increasingly balances both, sometimes more successfully than others!

©2000 Allan Mallinson (P)2017 W.F. Howes Ltd

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 02-06-18

A Historical Military Story

This is book one of a series about Cornet Matthew Hervey. In this book Hervey is with the Duke of Wellington’s Army in the Napoleonic Wars. The time frame is about 1814 to 1815. We follow Hervey through the Peninsular Campaign to Waterloo.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Mallinsen provides detailed information about the period as well as life in the army. The book is weak on dialog. The author has done an excellent job in putting the reader into the period of history. I assume that Mallinsen is setting the scene and building his background for the series. Hervey is a Calvary officer and the author provides a great deal of information about Calvary horses and their care during the Napoleonic Wars. I was impressed with the section about the battle of Waterloo; Mallinsen did an excellent job describing the battle. Napoleon came so close to winning. It started me thinking about what Europe and the world would be like today if he had won. The author is a retired British Army Officer who turned to writing both non-fiction and fiction. I enjoyed this and will be looking for book two of the series.

The book is fourteen and a half hours. Errick Graham did a good job narrating the book. Graham is an actor and audiobook narrator.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A little disappointed

I’m writing this as an admirer of the Richard Sharpe series, so this might be a little unjust. Anyway, my criticism:
1. I thought the book lacked excitement. I never got the feeling of “being in the action” so to speak as I do when reading the Sharpe books. For example, Instead of saying “Matthew Hervey closed on the French, sword aiming for his enemy, screaming his battle cry as he rammed the cold steel through the Frenchman’s neck,” we would have something mild like “Hervey watched the dreadful carriage. It was unlike anything he had scene. The Frenchman’s attack had been quick, and he felt lucky to be alive.” In other words, we are told that he fought the French, but there’s no up-close in the moment descriptions of his fighting. I realize this is a stylistic difference, I just find the former more captivating. I don’t think Hervey tells
2. There’s not really a single unifying theme from beginning to end (other than Hervey’s desire for promotion) that the story revolves around, although this did not really bother me too much.
3. Hervey needs a companion. I realize he gets engaged to his sweetheart Henrietta Lindsey, and Sgt. Armstrong appears to be Hervey’s Patrick Harper, but the dialogue feels forced. The strict formality smothers any kind of intimacy, amorous or of friendship.
4. There’s not a real antagonist. General Slade is an irritating nuisance to Hervey’s career, but he is not the cunning villain whom Hervey must defeat.
My Praise:
1. The descriptiveness is excellent. The authors knowledge of smaller incidents, such as the troubles in Ireland, is impressive.
2. The female characters are more than the “bond girl” variety found in the Sharpe series.
3. The formal way of talking, though overdone, is refreshing at times.

Anyway, it’s a good story, but the authors style is far more akin to Jane Austin than Bernard Cornwell. If that’s what you like, you will love this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Espen
  • Illinois, USA
  • 08-06-18

Detailed and well written

I discovered this detailed and well written series while searching reddit for something similar to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series and it has done an excellent job of scratching that itch. Much like Aubrey/Maturin the books are good but the series really finds it's feet around book 3 and 4. I really enjoy the feeling of being transported to another time and place that such a detail oriented author can create. Would highly recommend despite some specific equestrian vocabulary, as (again, like Aubrey/Maturin's technical sailing vocabulary) it provides depth but the overall idea is still comprehensible. I really hope you enjoy these as much as I have been.

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  • mrmalaya
  • 09-14-18

a great start

Having listened to all of the Aubrey/Maturin series several times, this book took a bit of getting used to. The details are as bold and the accuracy as great.

I think the reader certainly grew into his role as the story progressed and he has a great ear for regional and national accents. Looking forward to the second book...

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  • Mr. Anthony D. Bateman
  • 05-02-18

an excellent listen

As a fan of historical fiction I have enjoyed this book very much. in the 70s as a school boy, I first read c s Foersters hornblower books and find this in that vein. in latter yrs the books of Cornwall and scarrow among others have been my favourites, and the difference between them is one of rank. the writings contrast language of the street and that of an officer class which at the time of king george felt themselves superior.