Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rules of War.. not a set of wargame rules, but the latest book by Ian Gale in the Jack Steel series. This is the second one and follows on from "Man of Honour" which I reviewed previously here and here...

..the first book was set against Blenheim - this one is set against Ramillies. Gale has a fairly interesting approach to these major engagements as unlike Cornwell, who works his way up to the major engagement throughout the course of his books, Gale seems to start his books off with the actual engagement, the rest of the book then deals with the aftermath. this case then the story starts off at a cracking pace with Jack Steel (the hero of the story, and a Captain of Grenadiers in a fictional British infantry regiment) taking part in the assault on Autre-Eglise and subsequently, Ramillies. Excellent description of the battle and some good insight into the views of the commanding officers (especially Orkney - who sounds an interesting if not very pleasant character!) when told they had to withdraw from Autre-Eglise following their hard won victory...

Following the assault on Ramillies however, and Marlborough's victory, the rest of the book covers off the aftermath of the battle. Gale goes into some detail on the difficult political position Marlborough faced in Belgium with the start of Belgian nationalism (Marlborough was offered and turned down the governorship of Belgium - I think he knew it was going to be a thankless task!) Also the difficult political position at home - Marlborough never had an easy ride of it.

Most of the second part of the book however, deals with the siege of Ostend. The port was needed to provide a supply line for Marlborough's further campaigns, it was also a base for French privateers who preyed on British shipping in the Channel. Gale packs in some interesting description on Vauban's fortification. Steel of course is selected to lead the forlorn hope in the assault, but not before he experiences a number of other adventures and escapades in and around Ostend.. good book, recommended!


  1. Gale has an easy style of writing and although he gets some of the uniform description wrong is generally accurate.
    It's on my wish list right now.

  2. OK, I must get the copy from the library of man of honour and request the latest one.

    I've recently tried "Soldier of Fortune" by Edward Marston set at the same time, but the battles are just skipped over so don't spend any money on it


  3. I will keep an eye open for this, I enjoy a good novel of the rip roaring genre.

    I have just read The Blooding of Jack Absolute, CC Humphreys. set in the FIW. I enjoyed it.

  4. Thanks for the review, Steve. I've seen Gale's books but not as yet taken the plunge. Sounds like perfect reading for the 24-hour flight to New Zealand next month!

    Best wishes


  5. I recently also read the 'Soldier of Fortune' book. I am happy to try out all these books but that was the first for a long time that I thought was tosh. Really don't waste your money.

    I will certainly try these gale books as I liked his book on Waterloo.