Monday, February 14, 2011

"The Fields of Death" by Simon Scarrow

At last some time to review this one... this is the fourth and last in the series, and although it was good I'll come right out and say it's not the best.... in fact in my honest opinion the best was probably volume one or two - I got the distinct impression that by the time this volume came round Scarrow just wanted to get to the end and had finally realised just how much he'd chewed off...

Wellington and Napoleon are true giants of history, but they really did have very little to do with each other until Waterloo - each of them fought the others nation for years but they never came face to face until the Hundred Days... so this idea of their combined story is a little strained, and none more so than in this volume despite Waterloo....

The period is so rich and so full of history and detail it must be really off putting to any author to face it and out it into a fictional context, and I think Scarrow has glossed over a lot of the detail here... how else can you cover practically the whole of Wellington's Peninsula Campaign, and Napoleon's invasion of Russia in just one of the four volumes??

So having said that, did I enjoy it?? Damn right I did - on two counts... while I never thought the portrayal of Napoleon in these books was particularly convincing, I really did think that Scarrow had got inside Wellington's head, and his fictional portrayal of the iron Duke was brilliant... completely torn, and despite his certainty on the battlefield, completely the opposite in his private life..

Second, despite having read a number of books about Waterloo, Scarrow really (really!) describes the battle well and shows how it really was a "very close run thing".....

Steve the Wargamer gives the series as a whole a solid 8 out of 10, but this one only a 6, oh go on then, 7.


  1. Damned with faint praise Steve!

    Mmm...I think this one might be one to borrow rather than buy.

  2. Personally I never got past volume 1. Of all of his works I thought Scarrow was struggling with this idea and finding it difficult to get the concept right. As a result I've not bothered with the others and don't feel as I'm missing out by doing so.

  3. Cheers guys...

    I hate giving bad reviews of books as having kept a blog for a few years now I know (albeit very slightly) how much damned hard work is involved in putting something down on "paper".... I am endlessly impressed with any author who can get published, Scarrow's four volumes represent an enormous amount of work & effort, but it just fell slightly short for me.... it's well worth borrowing for a read, or buy it second hand....

  4. This one is in my pending reading pile and on your recommendation I picked up the Wounds of honour book and started that last night. I think I will need to buy the first one. I really enjoyed the Sidebottom books - 3 so far in the series. I thought the first in the napoleon/wellington series was the best.