Young Bloods by Simon Scarrow
Simon Scarrow is Bernard Cornwell’s successor, competitor, or pretender to the throne as the pre-eminent British historical action writer. So far Scarrow has stuck to Roman Empire era fiction, but here he forays into Cornwell’s heartland with a series about Wellington and Napoleon. Interestingly enough, though his books about Cato and Macro are very much like Sharpe set in Roman Britain, this book though it shares the setting of Sharpe is quite different in tone and subject. Obviously with the subject being the two most important generals of the period there is less emphasis on swashbuckling, but the overall concern is more with psychology and social setting than with straight action per se. I was prepared to be bored with this series, thinking that Scarrow might have strayed too far from his strengths, but instead I was gripped with the way he maintains tension with his story (even though you know the overall outcome) and keeps your interest in the two main characters. The recurring theme throughout is the striking similarities and parallels in the lives of Wellington and Napoleon as well as the equally striking differences. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, Scarrow’s other books, or Bernard Cornwell’s novels.