Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/
Liz has been reading Burke In The Peninsula by Tom Williams
Having read The White Rajah by Tom Williams several years ago I knew that this book set in the long-lasting Peninsular War, in Portugal and Spain, would be an action-packed story told in an approachable style.
We meet Major James Burke in 1809, an experienced soldier with particular skills in working under cover. Having returned from South America he is hoping to rejoin his regiment accompanied by his loyal Sergeant William Brown. Instructed to report to General Hill he finds that he is needed to reconnoitre with some of the guerrilla bands of Spaniards who seem to have more success than their army. He soon finds that some of the gangs are only out to loot, rape and murder, so he is relieved to find one trustworthy group lead by El Gato. Burke is involved in several dangerous skirmishes as he travels disguised as a priest.
When Sergeant Brown returns to the British army, he discovers that he is needed to lead a squad into battle at Talavera de la Reina. Written in the third person, we are given a clear description of the lines of infantrymen firing their muskets but also of the mayhem when they are attacked by canon-fire. Meanwhile Burke continues to work independently, in increasingly dangerous circumstances alongside an old flame.
Although at times quite upsetting, the violence and death reflects events accurately. I found William Brown easier to empathise with as Burke sometimes appears detached. The only female character, Bernadita, is quite inscrutable though fascinating. The atmosphere of the countryside in central Spain is effectively described and seemed familiar to me even visiting in the present day.
Although part of a series this book works well as a stand-alone story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even though the ending came rather suddenly.
Things getting a bit messy in Spain. Lots of irregulars. Civilians joining in the fighting. That sort of thing. Wellesley needs all the help he can get. They need a man who can pass for a Spaniard. Someone who can make himself useful with the irregulars. Someone who is prepared to fight dirty if it gets things done.
1809 and Burke has barely returned from South America when he is sent off again, this time to join the war being waged by Spanish guerrillas against the French. It’s not long before he’s fighting for his life, but which of the Spaniards can he trust?
Burke faces new adversaries and finds old allies in a dramatic tale of adventure during the Peninsular War, set against the background of the bloody battle of Talavera.
It’s real history – but not the way you learned it in school.