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Soldier of Fortune
Captain Daniel Rawson series #1

by Edward Marston

      Captain Daniel Rawson’s career began at the age of ten, when he killed a soldier who was trying to rape his mother. Twenty years later he is a star turn in the Duke of Marlborough’s army, leading Forlorn Hopes and adept at winkling out military secrets via pillow talk. This has made him a bitter enemy of General Salignac, who has sent two assassins to bring back Daniel’s head. They will have to catch him first of course, but soon Daniel’s guard is down when an unusual visitor arrives in camp. All the while, the army marches towards their date with destiny in Blenheim.

Edward Marston has written many novels under at least three names, but to date they have all been whodunits. Here is a departure from this in the shape of a military novel in the tradition of Sharpe, and I couldn’t wait to see how he handles this unfamiliar type of novel. Reasonably competently on the whole, as Daniel himself is a likeable fellow, and he has an essential sidekick in Henry Welbeck, pessimistic and misogynistic to the core as well as being a confirmed atheist. In short, the opposite of Daniel. Mr. Marston is at his best when dealing with characters or plot, and much of the action revolves around the two assassins sent by the cuckolded duke rather than displays of military fireworks. The battle itself is possibly the most forgettable part of the book, and despite being set in an army camp on the move there is perhaps nothing particularly military about the atmosphere. If you are reading the book because you enjoy military history you might be disappointed in this, and of course there is no actual crime to solve; but Mr. Marston is good at making a story trip along winningly and I confess to finding it an amiable and entertaining tale. Marring all his books is the tendency to make his characters talk in short, flat statements, where they are usually to be found being patted back and forth like ping pong balls in endless bickering conversations. But all this aside, he has still produced a readable and pacy novel. How does he do it?

The Book

Allison & Busby
28 January 2008
Historical / Military / 1704, Bavaria, various locations
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008