Thursday, April 24, 2008

Soldier of Fortune by Edward Marston

Captain Daniel Rawson, spy, soldier, ladies man and the Duke of Marlborough's right hand man is in trouble. The son of a Somerset rebel, who fled to the Netherlands with his mother after killing a soldier, Daniel has returned to England as a member of the Dutch Army to serve in the Spanish Wars of Succession. However a recent mission has earned him an enemy who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. With both an assassin and an admirer chasing him across Europe's battlefields, can Daniel survive and save the girl?

Marston is easliy one of my favourite authors. I was very much looking forward to this book and in some ways it did not disapoint. Captain Rawson is an out and out hero, courageous, foolhardy, gallant, charming and intelligent. He is a skilled swordsman and linguist and has many other talents to his name. Marston has created a likeable character to whisk us through the trials and tribulationsof late 17th/early 18th century Europe. The only problem is that sometimes Rawson is too perfect, with only his confirmed batcherlorhood a possible negative to his character.

The battle scenes are well written and in some ways mercifully to the point for those who do not want to get too entrenched in the minute details. I often find this a problem with Simon Scarrow's Roman Army books for example. That is not to say that Marston skimps on these scenes but I didn't feel as if I was reading a detailed report of several battles with the occasional storyline between. It certainly makes the book far more accessible to the average reader.

As always, Marston has researched his period well and I found no glaring inaccuracies. It was particularly interesting to see that he included scenes from the Monmouth Rebellion and I look forward to this aspect of Rawsons history playing a part in future books. Its a good introduction to Daniel's character, particularly his notion of honour and family. For those with in-depth knowledge of this period the book may not be as accurate as you would hope for, but its not as bad as some I have read.

Despite all of this though, I did not enjoy the book fully. The storyline involving Abigail Piper, the young lady with an infatuation for our hero, I found tedious and irritating. It reads almost like some tame historical Mills and Boon with swooning, two dimensional women and a hero fighting for their honour. Although I like a good love story plot, what Marston provided is not what I am looking for. I was left feeling like Abigail needed a good slap and that Rawson is a confirmed batchelor who enjoys female attention. The whole plot seemed to be thrown in for good measure to try and fill a gap. Perhaps Marston should avoid this type of plot in future or work on his female characters.

Otherwise this was a good light hearted romp that shouldn't be taken seriously. Ideal as a holiday read.

*3 stars*

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