Fire and Sword


Paris, December 1804. Napoleon Bonaparte is about to enter the Cathedral of Notre Dame for his coronation as Emperor of France. The revolution is a thing of the past, and, following his victories in other parts of Europe, the people appear to be delighted to have him lead them. But Bonaparte’s ambition to rule not just France but the whole of Europe soon leads the nation into wars in which, on land, he is always the victor. We move on to September 1805 and Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, returns to England after nine years’ service with the British army in India, in which he rose from the rank of colonel to that of major-general. From thereon the book charts Bonaparte’s dream of becoming the emperor of Europe, his campaigns over the next few years to realise that dream and Britain’s response culminating in the defeat of the French forces at Oporto in 1809.

Simon Scarrow is a born storyteller of history. His research is impeccable, and the events he portrays come alive. The reader is there with his characters, whether it be conniving with Bonaparte in his council chamber, sympathising with Wellesley in his frustrations to persuade the British Government to take the war to Bonaparte if there is to be any hope of finally defeating him, or smelling the smoke of the gunfire or feeling the cold snow covered land.

This is the third of a quartet of novels on this period. I look forward to the fourth.

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