20 Oct 2013


The fifth and penultimate book read for the What's In A Name 6 book challenge. This seemed like the perfect choice for the 'Book with fire (or equivalent) in the title' category.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock. 

December 1804. Napoleon Bonaparte is Emperor of France, and his desire to rule Europe is overpowering. Soon after France’s spectacular defeat at Trafalgar, he wins a glorious victory against Austria at Austerlitz. Turning on Spain, he deposes the king and places his brother Joseph on the throne. Napoleon is now at the height of his powers. Yet his victories are bittersweet, for the Empress Josephine has failed to bear him a child - and he has yet to triumph over his most hated enemy: Great Britain. 

Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) is proving himself as astute a politician as he is a military tactician. His marriage to Kitty Pakenham is less successful, though, and by way of escape he throws himself into the army's campaign in Europe. After leading his men to glory in Portugal, he goes on to command the army in a series of triumphant battles across Spain, bringing him public acclaim. For those living reluctantly under French rule, his victories suggest that Napoleon's progress is not inexorable: that freedom may yet be restored.
...... Inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: Napoleon: Paris, December 1804): As Napoleon's carriage pulled up in front of Notre-Dame, the vast crowd that had been waiting in the chill air let out a cheer that echoed off the massive grey walls.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 235): There had been over twenty thousand casualties, nearly a third of the army. By the gathering light of the dawn the battlefield looked like an open-air slaughterhouse.

MY THOUGHTS: The third in the Revolution series (I believe there is now a fourth book available). Whilst at a push Fire And Sword could be read as a standalone novel but because it follows the story of two such historical giants (Napoleon Bonaparte and, the perhaps less well known, Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington) and contains a mix of fact and fiction I highly recommend that the books be read in order. 

Both a hit and miss for me. Told in tandem, whilst the book followed closely the military careers of both men it was the Wellesley's life story (and in particular his relationship with Kitty) that had me totally gripped. Following his personal and political life much more closely than that of Napoleon I could have quite happily skipped the chapters regarding the Emperor of France and concentrated on his story.

An epic read of over 500 pages (and from what I can remember the two previous novels were of similar length). Because of the very nature of the book at times it did verge on reading like a text book and yet at others felt almost like I was reading the plot of a film/tv series.

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Naida said...

This does sound like heavy reading and I know what you mean on it being like reading a text book at times. Sounds interesting though!

Kelly said...

Perhaps someday I will take on this series as it does sound interesting. It's a time period I've not read about much.

Brian Joseph said...

This was such a fascinating period of history and these were fascinating characters.

I probably would find Arthur Wellesley's life more interesting then Napoleon's too.

Alexia561 said...

Not a big fan of historical fiction, so don't think that this one is for me. Thanks for the reminder about the What's In A Name Challenge, as I need to get busy and start reading!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... sometimes I just enjoy a historical fiction, other times, I'd rather see the tv show. Not sure which I would choose in this instance, but it does sound interesting enough to try. :)

Suko said...

Great choice for the reading challenge and terrific review, Tracy!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

A nice honest review, as always.

I don't think this is a book I would invest in, as firstly it does sound a little heavy going and secondly we are already well into the series with this book and I should imagine it to be the type of series where you need to be in from the start, to have any chance of knowing 'what's what' and 'who's who'.

On a slightly different note, I was wondering if you had changed email addresses or made any other changes to the site, during your recent computer issues, as your comments are being dumped in my moderation box, which should generally only happen when you leave your initial comment.

I hope that you have a great book lined up to read next and that you have a good week,


Cherie Reich said...

Great review! I hadn't heard of this book before. And in the book description, I read Arthur Weasley instead of Arthur Wellesley at first. LOL!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

sounds a bit too hefty for me, but that's great you enjoyed one half of the story a lot.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This sounds like heavy reading, but it does sound interesting. I was glad to hear it could be a standalone, but better when read in the series. The cover is just beautiful! Great review!

Tracy Terry said...

Enjoying the historical aspect to Wellesley's story (and yes I know what you mean Cherie as at one point I also read this as Weasley) it was the battle side of the story and in particular details of Napoleon's campaign that I found a bit tedious.

As for any changes Yvonne. Once back online I'd made the decision to start writing as Tracy Terry instead of Petty Witter. I wonder if this could be having an effect.

Jinky said...

I'm glad something in this book gripped you considering the heaviness of the read. :)

Mamakucingbooks said...

i think i will give this book a miss as it's a bit heavy for me :p