True Soldier Gentlemen Paperback
A brilliant new Napoleonic military fiction series from one of the UK's brightest young historians. The year is 1808, and Hamish Williams is a 'gentlemen volunteer' in the 106th regiment of foot, a man serving with the ranks but living with the officers, and uncomfortable in both worlds: looked down on by those with the money or influence to buy their rank, and distrusted by the common soldiers who know he is not one of them.
But Williams is determined to prove by deeds alone that he is a man worthy of advancement, and 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.
Combining the vivid detail of a master historian with the engaging characters and pulsating action of a natural storyteller, TRUE SOLDIER GENTLEMAN is the first volume in what promises to be a classic series.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages, black & white illustrations, maps
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 10/11/2011
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780753828366
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Review by DWWilkin
Adrian Goldsworthy starts us in his tale of the exploits of a fictional English Regiment ahead of the action that was to take place in the Peninsula Campaign by several months with the conquest of Madrid by the French. Such a terrible time can only be conveyed into words with tales of atrocities, which might not recommend such a work to the many woman who read of the Regency Era and the romances that are created for it.Goldsworthy further mixes in, with a hint here, and a glimpse over there, that the familiar George Wickham, the well remembered Rake we have met through Jane Austen's creative work, Pride and Prejudice, has a part to play here as well. Later, rather than earlier, we find that Goldsworthy's Wickham, along with his wife Lydia, and a personal favorite, Colonel Fitzwilliam, all have parts in the drama. But they are not central to our story.Goldsworthy's regiment, the 106th Glamorganshire Regiment is central and several characters within. There are moments where POV shifts rather rapidly and so that detracts from a solid read of the material, as is always the case when a writer attempts to be so omniscient. And as this is a piece of Military Historical Fiction, one might ask where is the romance. We best nor forget we have re-met Lydia, and though she is not central to our romance sub-plots, that Goldsworthy has given us this lady, shows his affection for Austen. And he has painted a picture of other romances as backstory, as well as the quest of one of our fine young heroes of the piece.One should not look to True Soldier Gentlemen for the romance, for that is secondary. Where this book shines is as a Military History, it is well researched to give one the sense of what regimental life was like at this time, and though Goldsworthy makes his heroes the first to stop dyeing their hair, and the first to form a regimental mess, ahead of the other regiments serving under Sir Arthur Wellesley, once battle is joined he follows the scripts of what happened in these early days in Portugal. His use of language is vivid and evocative and this is what makes the book shine amongst others that have also told us of these battles. If you ever would look to find out more detail of what occurred on the continent for the heroic troops of England, this may be the very place to start.