Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lighter Summer Reading

I needed a little light relief after struggling to read Nick Lipscombe’s epic “Peninsular War Atlas”. And Simon Scarrow’s “Young Bloods” was just what I needed. It tells the story of the early years of Wellington and Napoleon, from 1769 to 1795. It is a novel, rather than a history.

I had read a number of books about the personal, rather than military, lives of both Wellington and Napoleon. In particular Elizabeth Langford’s two volume biography of Wellington, and J M Thompson’s “Napoleon Bonaparte” So I was not particularly interested when I first heard about this project in 2006.

Last year a friend, another active reader but not a wargamer, mentioned that he has read all of the “Sharpe” series. I have read them a couple of times, and enjoy them for a little light reading. He mentioned that Simon Scarrow had written a similar series about the Roman Army called the “Eagle” series. He loaned me the first volume, and I was hooked. Over the year I read the whole series.

It was then that I realised that Scarrow had also written four books about Wellington and Napoleon. When we were last in UK I bought all four, and have just read the first one.

I know that some wargamers are dismissive of the “Sharpe” series, and I suspect that they will feel the same about “Young Bloods”. I have always admired that Cornwall wrote a good yarn based on an historical incident. And Scarrow has done something similar here. I found it a very enjoyable read, and an excellent introduction to the early life of Bonaparte and Welsley.

I am looking forward to the second novel, “The Generals”, which covers 1795 to 1803.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

..a good series - I've read them all.. I'll be interested in your thoughts of the later volumes and see if they coincide with mine... :o)

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Steve

Pleasantly surprised with the first volume. Despite a few errors I found it a very enjoyable read. The early period is less well covered, so easier to accept the storyline.

It will be interesting to see how he deals with the better known military history.

I also enjoyed the Sharpe series, and I particularly liked the way he created a total fiction within a historical storyline. Unlike other novels, Sharpe does not steal large tracts from well known descriptions of battles.

A good start, and looking forward to reading the second volume.