Monday, August 15, 2011

"On His Majesty's Secret Service" Allan Mallinson

The long wait is over (3 years!) and the latest Matthew Hervey novel, the eleventh, is set in the Eastern Balkans...

With no war on the horizon, Hervey's ambition's to finally command his beloved Light dragoon regiment are kicked into touch as the government of the day announces budget cuts that impact deeply on the army (sound familiar?? free smileys) and in particular his light dragoon regiment, who are to be reduced considerably, to the point where a colonel would be wholly inappropriate... as a sop, Hervey is offered command of a regiment of foot currently based at Gibraltar but while he makes his mind up is seconded as an observer to the Russian forces currently at war (Russo–Turkish War of 1828–1829) with the "sublime porte" (Turkey) in the Balkans.

Not surprisingly, Hervey and his compatriots are soon in the thick of it and despite being an impartial observer and a neutral, is more active than perhaps he should be.. directly leading to other possibilities for Hervey, and the offer of promotion and a command within the Russian forces. I get the distinct impression Mallinson would very much have liked to serve with a Cossack regiment himself as the parts of the book dealing with them are particularly good.

End to end excellent, and some very good news to finish - but I do wish I could give him a good slap and bring him to his senses with regard to the current Mrs Hervey!! free smileys

Steve the Wargamer rates this 9 out of 10 - if only because it allows for the possibility of improving on perfection!


Separately, the WWII re-basing project is complete, and has provided a welcome filip to the painting totals for the year - I thought long and hard about it but given the amount of effort that has gone into the activity (158 bases!) I felt it only right to give some token value to the activity - one point per base seems "right"...

I've also cleaned up and prepared the next American Civil War regiment - just need to undercoat them and get on with applying the brush... this regiment will represent Wheat's "Tiger" Zouaves, and I give due warning that I'm really not interested in comments and posts that the Tiger Zouaves were only ever company strength, not regimental, and that they didn't really have brown coat, etc etc etc. I'm a hopeless romantic, and no American Civil War project of mine would be complete without the little brown jacketed fellows.. besides, unlike the Union army, from what I can tell the Confederacy only had one regimental strength unit of Zouaves (Coppen's), and their uniform is just too similar to the Union regiment I've just completed, case closed... free smileys I only hope that when they are finished they look even half as good as these...

Newline figures (same as mine will be), painted by napoleonminiatures and very nicely too - I especially like the conversion on the straw hat...


  1. First I've heard of the new Mallinson book, great news!!!
    You don't get to paint much brown in the ACW, so why the heck not!!! They they great to me. Brave man taking on them stripy troos though!

  2. Ray - the Mallinson is cracking - equally as good as any of the previous one's...

    Re. troo's - yes - was thinking I might experiment and see if I can get some permanent markers - extra fine tip - foil pens or something like that - I also think less may be more so not to do every stripe but give an "impression"...

  3. I've read a few of the novels and enjoyed them, thanks for that.

  4. Couldn't agree more, I've not painted too many stripes, but when I did I tried all sorts of pens and such, but couldn't find any I was happy with, so like you.......out came the paintbrush and the Paracetamol!

  5. Cheers for the heads up on the new Hervey. I shall add it too my list! I've really enjoyed the previous ones. I think his style is very 'traditional' but it has a nice feel to it. More like a Victorian novel in some ways...

  6. Tigers! Proper ones too, in brown jackets and ticking pants as per Kannick. Good choice! I was very fond of my 15mm Battle Honours ones.

    The latest Mallison sounds good too. Thanks for the review.

  7. I'm waiting for the softback but only because I don't like mixing formats on my bookshelf. Thanks for the review it is a long time between books (not as long as Donaldson & his Thomas covenant series though!).
    As for the Zouaves - it's your collection to play with and hang everyone else. Don't like painting stripes - hand shakes too much.

  8. I also enjoyed it and it was about a campaign I knew v little about. You hit the nail on the head - Hervey does need a good slapping. Perhaps that is why I like this series. He's not a Sharpe like character. Hervey has some major character flaws and the pace of the action can be frustrating but I do feel Mallinson has the period feel correct and the language etc does not pander to a modern audience wanting an easy airport read. Its a bit like O'Brien in that regard. The books require a bit of effort but are so much more rewarding as a result. Also characters die and I really never feel that with a Cornwell novel as Sharpe and Harper always survive. I look forward to the next one when Hervey hopefully at long last gets his regiment.


  9. One of the better Mallinsons- I have them all - the previous couple were a bit below par IMHO.
    Try his factual stuff- His history of the british army is possibly the best single volume on the subject and "Light Dragoons" is worth a look too.