True Soldier Gentlemen

True Soldier Gentlemen

Book - 2011
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The year is 1808, and Hamish Williams is a 'gentlemen volunteer' in the 106th regiment of foot. When the 106th embarks for Portugal to begin what will become known as the Peninsula War against Napoleon, he knows his chance of glory is at hand. Soon he is receiving a sharp lesson in the realities of war, as the 106th undergoes a bloody baptism at the hands of the French-- and he realises that his single-minded devotion to honour may not, after all, be the quickest route to promotion.
Publisher: London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011
Description: 377 p. : maps ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780297860358
Branch Call Number: Gold


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Dec 02, 2015

If you like reading realistic portraits of the British army at the time of Napoleon then this story will highly interest you. It's several steps above the Sharp series in this way. At the same time, the descriptions do make the story plod a bit, something like life in the army when not in the field. The addition of George Wickham into the narrative was a whimsical character choice. The only other issue with characters is the two characters with the similar William/Williams name and trying to keep their development untangled among the other characters also being introduced. Once the 106th lands in Spain the narrative becomes more animated. All in all I like the book and plan on reading the series.

Jun 05, 2014

I'll start by saying that I am a big fan of this period of English history. Bernard Cornwell and Jane Austen have made it one of my favorites actually.

The story starts with William Hanley, bastard & failed artist and grows to include several other members of the 106th foot, including Hamish Williams, gentleman volunteer and Billy Pringle, a womanizing lush & sometime romantic. It begins in 1808 with Hanley joining the regiment after escaping from Spain and ends with Wellingtons first major battle in the war against the French in Portugal.

The first two thirds of this book seemed to be one long introduction to the characters and life as a soldier. So many characters were mentioned in the first few chapters that until about halfway though I don't think I had them all sorted out. There is a massive amount of detail on the uniforms, living arrangements and regiments, all of it very thorough but it does bog the narrative down a lot. There was also quite a few side stories that felt like they didn't belong, I am assuming that most of them were a start to a larger view though maybe not all and sometimes they didn't fit into the storytelling that well. The addition of several characters from the novel Pride & Prejudice was curious and I personally didn't really appreciate it, though it neither detracted or added to the story in my view. I see the potential in the story and with promised future battles in Canada and at Waterloo I am hoping for better in the next book.

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