Rebel (Starbuck Chronicles 1)

Bernard Cornwell


rebelThe first book in Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling series on the American Civil War.

It is summer 1861. The armies of North and South stand on the brink of America’s civil war.

Nathanial Starbuck, jilted by his girl and estranged from his family, arrives in the capital of the Confederate South, where he enlists in an elite regiment being raised by rich, eccentric Washington Faulconer.

Pledged to the Faulconer Legion, Starbuck becomes a northern boy fighting for the southern cause. But nothing can prepare him for the shocking violence to follow in the war which broke America in two.

Cornwell turns his attention from the Napoleanic Wars to the American Civil War in this new series, and he does an equally good job with it. The writing, the research, and the characterisations are all as good as anything in the Sharp series, perhaps even a little better – it’s nothing I can articulate, but I find Starbuck a more interesting character than Sharpe, it might be because he changes so drastically.

A great job is done here of showing the divisions within a country as it fights itself, not to mention showing why people go to war: some for pride, some because they have no other choice, and others to prove something to themselves or to the people around them.

Every character in this book has their reason for fighting, and for picking the side they do, and it’s not always easy to to tell what that reason is straight off because these are believably real characters.

The characterisations are what makes the history come to life, they turn what could have been a dry account of events into something worth reading.

If you’re a fan of the Sharpe books, then you should definitely give this a go.

Sharpe’s Tiger

Sharpe’s Tiger

Bernard Cornwell


328907Richard Sharpe is a private, fighting with the British army in India, and he’s had enough of it. He’s ready to desert when he’s punished for striking the sergeant who is making his life a misery; the capture of a British agent by the Tippoo of Mysore provides him with an opportunity to escape – he’s asked to rescue the agent, a dangerous mission that he hopes to turn to his advantage because to save Colonel McCandless he must desert the army and join the Tippoo’s forces.

Will he desert for real, or will he find a reason to return to the British army and put on that red jacket again?

In the timeline of Richard Sharpe’s career, this book sits right at the beginning, where his rise through the ranks starts, but many of the books in the series had already been written by the time Bernard Cornwell put pen to paper on this one. The gap between the first book he wrote and this one shows; over the years he has become a much better writer, in every sense – there is more to the plot than in his early books, the characters are better developed, the narrative more flowing, and the scenes more richly described, and he manages all of that while retaining the historical accuracy he is known for.

As a fan of history, warfare, and good characters, this book has pretty much everything I want in a read. I especially like the fact that Sharpe is successful at fighting but unlucky in love, he can get the woman, he just can’t keep her; that helps to make him more human and easier to empathise with.

You don’t need to start the series with this book, but if, like me, you like to follow a character from beginning to end, you probably should.