Friday, 17 July 2009


Man of Honour:

The first in a stunning new historical adventure series, perfect for all fans of Sharpe. Upper Bavaria, 1704. The British army, triumphant, fresh from victory, stands proudly to attention, ready to fight for honour and glory. Their enemy is Louis XIV of France, a megalomaniac intent on possessing all Europe. Among this proud group of men stands Lieutenant Jack Steel, admired by his men, the finest infantry in Queen Anne's army. Much praised for his courage, his strength, and his loyalty, Steel has come to the attention of his Commander in Chief, the Duke of Marlborough. Tasked with rescuing a letter whose controversial contents could destroy Marlborough, Steel leads his men through the battle of Blenheim, risking death and destruction in the fight for another man's honour. And along the way he is constantly threatened from within by the mellifluous Major Jennings, intent on destroying Steel and all he stands for. The first in a stunning new series featuring Jack Steel, Man of Honour is historical adventure perfect for all fans of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe.


With Bernard Cornwell currently engaged in writing his Alfred series many people have been looking for a Sharpe type of hero to come to the fore. Currently, there’s no better example than Iain’s Jack Steel who charges into the literary world in this, his first novel set during the War of the Spanish Succession (early 18th Century.) Not only is he a hero with a sense of honour and tries to engage in the rules of warfare according to his personal code but he also refuses to endanger his men unless he accompanies them personally.

Gripping, addictive and above all a series that will soon endear itself to the fans of the genre. A cracking fictional debut by a true historical master.

Rules of War:

Jack Steel, first introduced in Man of Honour, is a splendid hero on a new and dangerous mission. Perfect for all fans of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe. MEET JACK STEEL - GENTLEMAN, SOLDIER, HERO. In the early eighteenth century, the British army led by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, were the leaders of a wide-ranging and very successful alliance. Jack Steel, maverick gentleman, superb soldier, was in the middle of any fight. Ramilles 1706. One of the great victories of the British army, a signal battle honour for the regiments who were there. But for Captain Steel, standing at the head of his Grenadiers, sinking into the swampy ground, at odds with his Allied partners and receiving contradictory orders, it was hard to see the General, Lord Marlborough's grand stratagem. Even after victory, Steel finds himself mired in further difficulties. The Allies had thought that they were liberating the Low Countries but some preferred their previous masters, the French, who at least were Catholic, and some wanted independence from all powers, while others of his fellow officers wanted out of the war altogether.Far from the battle lines he enjoys, Jack Steel is sent undercover to discover and deal with the traitors. He needs to identify the loyal locals who would help a few British advance troops into the besieged city - a dangerous mission made deadly by his identification by an old enemy of his and the brilliant malevolence of the renegade French pirate who is in charge of Ostende.


When it comes to the
second book of any series (this being Jack Steel 2), you get to know whether an author has real talent and able to maintain the standards portrayed within the original or whether the pressure was just too much and a poor offering was presented. There just isn’t a middle ground, it maintains and builds or it goes down in flames, so what did Iain’s writing do?

The fact that I’m having an Iain Gale Day should pretty much tell you. The writing was a pure joy, the characters fresh and complete although personally I’d rather have a Sergeant Slaughter series over a ranking officer any day. I love this series so far and to be honest there’s not much more that can be added other than its something special for all readers. Special mention also has to go to the wonderfully creative villains that have so far appeared within the context who give Steel a real challenge and are just as wonderfully addictive, long may they continue to elude the hero to generate more chaos into which he’s plunged. Cracking stuff.

Brothers in Arms:

Charismatic hero Jack Steel returns, in a new and perilous adventure. England 1708 and Jack Steel returns to Flanders from England a married man. But his wife Lady Henrietta Vaughan is proving expensive and Jack must look for a promotion. At the battle of Oudenarde Steel is sent in to stem off the French attack and wins a glorious victory for Marlborough.The allies eyes' turn from Paris to Lille, where the Dutch have recommenced a siege. Unbeknownst to them, Marlborough sends Steel, his trusted envoy to Paris to broker a deal with a man who has the ear of the French King. Disguised, in danger of exposure and in fear of his life, Steel accomplishes his mission and makes it back to the bloody, mud-logged siege of Lille -- a victory for the British in the end, but at huge cost of human life. As Steel desperately tries to open supply lines to his troops, he discovers that his wife has been unfaithful to him, though he has risked all to rescue her from the besiged town of Leffinghe. Jack returns to England covered in glory from Lille, and with the promotion that he desired.Although he has lost his reason for desiring money and honour he is now even more determined to win further military accolades in order outshine his wife's new lover.


Finally we come to the third part in Iain’s Jack Steel series to date, Brothers in Arms. Beautifully recreated historical accuracy occurs throughout the novel which makes this pretty addictive from my point of view. Whilst to some, Iain’s writing may come across a clichéd, for me it adds more depth and hooks the reader deeper within the series as Flashman meets Sharpe through the daring do of the protagonists actions. You really aren’t going to get historical fiction as jam packed with the same sort of fight sequences or with the challenges within. Definitely an author to enjoy and, if you’re on the odd day trip to Belgium, then take these with you, cracking good fun and there’s no better way to learn the history than to enjoy it first hand with Steel and Slaughter.

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