A Close Run Thing (Matthew Hervey)

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9780553380439: A Close Run Thing (Matthew Hervey)
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In the tradition of Patrick O'Brian's beloved historical military adventures comes the first in a dashing new series featuring Cornet Matthew Hervey, a young cavalry officer in Wellington's army of 1815.   A Close Run Thing

For two decades, since the French Revolution, England and her allies have fought a seemingly endless war to loosen Bonaparte's stranglehold on Europe. Matthew Hervey, a twenty-three-year-old parson's son, has risen through the ranks of His Majesty's cavalry to a junior command in the 6th Light Dragoons.

Torn by ambition and ensnared in the intrigues of Wellington's army, Matthew struggles to shape his destiny, but his efforts are about to be cast to the winds of fate. For amid the clash of armies, he will find himself a catalyst in the battle of the century...near the small Belgian village of Waterloo.

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Review:

Allan Mallinson wastes no time getting the reader into the thick of things: by page 2 of this novel, set during the Napoleonic wars, protagonist Coronet Matthew Hervey of the 6th Light Dragoons is up to his neck in battle and blood. By page 8, he's on his way to a court martial, the result of his own hasty temper and the politics of the military. Though the young soldier's career is never in serious danger, Mallinson uses the episode effectively to make a point about 19th-century military life:

Anyone who thought that survival in this war depended merely on fighting the enemy was naïve in the extreme. Jealousy, snobbery, intrigue, and patronage were the preoccupations of men of ambition in the Marquess of Wellington's army; and Hervey and others like him, decent officers with little but the ability to recommend them, were increasingly resentful of Wellington's indifference to it all. Indeed, many believed he actively connived at it.
Politics and infighting within the ranks are, indeed, important elements in A Close Run Thing, which follows the fortunes of young Matthew Hervey, his regiment, and Wellington's army through the last year of the Napoleonic wars. What makes the novel so fascinating is that the most dangerous enemies are seldom the ones being fought on the battlefield. There are the villains--General "Black Jack" Slade, for example, "as incompetent an officer as was ever placed in command of a brigade of cavalry"; and to a lesser degree, Wellington himself, who seems indifferent to the system of patronage that kept people like Slade in positions of power. And there are the heroes--Hervey and his commanding officer, Major Joseph Edmonds, among others. As war's fortunes take them from France to Ireland and back again to the continent and an insignificant Belgian village called Waterloo, Mallinson paints a vivid portrait not only of military life but of the European political milieu.

In his note at the beginning of A Close Run Thing, Mallinson writes that he's long been a fan of Patrick O'Brian 's naval fictions set during the Napoleonic wars and that he "began to fret for anything remotely comparable for the cavalry of that period." Though one might wish Matthew Hervey had been more fully developed as a character, à la O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, Mallinson writes a battlefield scene with the same brio and encyclopedic knowledge that O'Brian brings to his engagements at sea. From the details of charging a French battery of guns to the peculiar ailments of a cavalry horse, Mallinson, himself a serving officer in a British cavalry regiment, knows his subject inside and out. This is a book sure to appeal to military-history buffs and readers looking for a ripping good adventure tale alike. --Alix Wilber

From the Back Cover:

"Of recent years many eminent hands have undertaken to lead the reader deep into the Royal Navy of Nelson's time, describing the life of the service, the men who sailed those 'far-distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which the Grand Army never looked' but which 'stood between it and the dominion of the world.'

"Hitherto nobody that I know of has done anything like the same for the army, which did after all have a not inconsiderable share in winning the war; but now at last a highly literate, deeply read cavalry officer of high rank shows one the nature of horse-borne warfare in those times; and Colonel Mallinson's A Close Run Thing is very much to be welcomed."
--Patrick O'Brian, author of the Aubrey-Maturin series

"Mallinson's A Close Run Thing is an astonishingly impressive debut in the field of Napoleonic fiction. Convincingly drawn, perfectly paced and expertly written, this cavalryman's tale is a joy to read. I hope it will be the first of many."
--Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780553507133: A Close Run Thing (Matthew Hervey, Book 01)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0553507133 ISBN 13:  9780553507133
Publisher: Bantam, 2008
Softcover

9780553111149: A Close Run Thing (Wellington's Infantry)

Bantam, 1999
Hardcover

9780593043738: A Close Run Thing

Bantam, 1999
Hardcover

9781841976419: A Close Run Thing (LARGE PRINT)

W F Howes, 2003
Hardcover

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