Wednesday, March 04, 2015

On His Majesty's Service (Matthew Hervey) - a review..

...so after the better part of 3 months, and in preparation for the release in the next week or so of the new volume ("Words of Command" released March 12th on Amazon at least) I have just completed the hugely enjoyable job of reading all eleven of the current Matthew Hervey series....

The last one in the series, hints at least at later troubles in the Crimea, but is set against the background of Russia's earlier war with Turkey in the Balkans (the Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829). Hervey has been posted as an official observer, but as is his way he refuses to take a sedentary role in the war and is soon in the thick of the action..

Hervey continues to be the tortured, thinking man - but is now mature enough to recognise that he is a good'ish solder, and is most at home in action (just as well really as the number of weeks he has spent at home on leave over the period of all 11 books must number in almost single digits! ) As ever, though, he also remains ambitious, and the book is overshadowed by three separate opportunities, one of which is quite surprising.. 

At the end of the previous book he was offered command of the 6th Light Dragoons, all he has ever wanted, but at the beginning of this book he is advised that they are to be "re-trenched", reduced to a single squadron as part of service cuts (nothing new there then) and not suitable for command by a full Colonel - he is instead offered command of a battalion of infantry garrisoning Gibraltar, and leaves for the Balkans unsure of what he wants to do...

Once he gets there however, he sees action in support of the Russian army, first at the siege of Silistra where he provides much help to the Russian commander in the way of tactical observations, and then later at the amazingly described Battle of Kulewtscha, where he and Fairbrother play a much more practical role in rallying a routing Russian infantry regiment and leading them to eventual success.

As a result of this success and endeavour, Hervey is offered command of a brigade in the Russian army with a promise of senior command within a short time...  Much food for thought, for Hervey...

At the end of the book - while on observational duties, he and Fairbrother are ambushed by Bashi Bazouks, and only just escape with their lives (not the case unfortunately for the whole party, and Fairbrother is badly wounded). Arriving back in England to recuperate, he is met by his old friend John Howard however, and told that the spending cuts have been reversed, and he has been confirmed in his command of the 6th..

So... roll on the next volume - lots of threads left unanswered and untidy!!



8 comments:

  1. I'm a fan of Mallinsons writing- not just Hervey but his factual stuff too have most of them as First Editions so will add this new one as soon as I can

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    1. Thanks for the heads up, Andy - I know of the Light Dragoon history, I must try it...

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  2. I read the first 3 books years ago, when thats all that was out, and enjoyed them.
    Must get back into these now there are more adventures to enjoy!

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    1. Paul - you'll not be disappointed... the writing is as good as ever...

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  3. I'm the same as Paul, read the first three or four and then stopped. I must dig them out. Last one I read he had just been captured in thee Peninsula...

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    1. Legatus - he's captured at the end of "Rumours of War".. if you read them in order, you got further than you think as that's the sixth book..

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  4. Nice synopsis Steve, my copy of the new book is on order

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    1. Thanks Nigel J - just had word mine is on its way

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