Storm Child by Bernard Cornwell

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First Lady by Michael Dobbs

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Sharpe’s Devil by Bernard Cornwell

About time, I felt, to revisit Richard Sharpe and his travels round and about the Napoleonic Wars.

As always, Bernard Cornwell’s yarn rattles along at high speed, and, as a change from the normal land based novels, much of this takes place at sea. He writes very evocatively of the joys of life on board ship in the early 19th century, including weevils in the ship’s biscuits!

Lord Cochrane, as much a great British naval hero as Nelson, plays a major role here, and even outwits Sharpe and Harper. Cochrane’s real life story is remarkable and Cornwell weaves it into his book seamlessly.

Sharpe’s role in the independence of Chile is, as usual, a lot of fun.

Even Napoleon gets a walk on part in this book, and he too outwits Sharpe! The end poses an interesting “counter-factual”. What if Napoleon had been freed to command an army in South America in 1820? How different would the world be? Would he have embarked to re-ignite Europe, or instead taken the Americas under his control, as he had done in Europe… If no-one has written that story, then I might!

Cornwell’s villains are typical, but always fun to cheer against. Another fun read!

Score 8/10

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Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Back again to Discworld and another of Sir Terry’s excellent books.

This time Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg decide to visit Agnes Nitt (or Perdita) as she tries to make it in the opera.

Cue lots of humour and mystery, as the witches try to stop the Phantom (for it is, of course, he) killing more people and destroying the Opera House. Sir Terry manages to drop in quite a few barbs about the ridiculousness of the whole set up, but seems, at least to me, to have a love fr it nonetheless. I will need to drop some of Nanny Ogg’s explanations into my discussions with my opera loving friends (if indeed I had any!)

The show, of course, must go on!

Greebo the cat plays another two footed walk on role as well.

We have a few red herrings and a redemption/transformation story told too.

The coach journey from Lancre to Ankh-Morpork is wonderful and one can almost be in the carriage with the witches – or at least for the five minutes until one insists on taking a place up top?

As is always the case – excellent.

Score 9/10

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Coalescent by Stephen Baxter

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The Lords’ Day by Michael Dobbs

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Odds and Gods by Tom Holt

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