Monday, 3 November 2014

A truly amazing Saturday

Saturday was, as all my younger friends would say, a pretty awesome day.

It started with the paperback of Burke and the Bedouin arriving in the post, so the book is now definitely officially out there. I think Accent are doing a lovely job with the covers. Don’t they look impressive?

Then I saw that the Historical Novel Society's review of Burke in the Land of Silver (reviewed under its original title of His Majesty’s Confidential Agent) had come out.  HNS reviews matter: they are selective about what they review so just getting a review from them means that your book is taken seriously as a historical novel.

Here’s what they said.

This tale of espionage is set against one of the lesser-known fields of conflict in the Napoleonic Wars – South America – with the real-life British secret agent, James Burke, as a dashing protagonist. In the early years of the 19th century, Burke and his servant, Private William Brown, are dispatched to the Spanish province of La Plata in South America in order to find a way to prevent its riches finding their way into Napoleon’s coffers – but once in La Plata, “our man in Buenos Aires” finds himself becoming drawn to the idea of the province’s independence and to the lovely (and married) Ana O’Gorman. He makes a very dangerous enemy and discovers to his cost that idealism has no place in politics.

The action gallops along, taking us with Burke from the Caribbean, through the capitals of the Europe, to the colonies of the New World. Burke holds the narrative together. He is the most strongly realised character – an ambitious, ruthless man, committed to kill, deceive and seduce in order to promote Britain’s interests – but who sometimes makes errors of judgment, who can let his emotions sway him but who is steadfastly loyal to those close to him.

There are occasional jumps in viewpoint, which can jar the flow of the narrative and a couple of characters are rather one-dimensional (Molly, the patriotic “tart with a heart” comes to mind), but overall this is a well-crafted adventure yarn with exotic settings and plenty of suspense. I wonder if Tom Williams has any more adventures lined up for James Burke.

Then there was the Halloween skate to round off the day. Hundreds of people in fancy dress skated through the centre of London and on to a truly horrifying party. I didn’t take many photos myself, but here’s a tiny sample of the costumes on display.

All in all, this has to have been one of the most comprehensively excellent Saturdays I’ve seen in a while. I hope your weekends were even half as much fun.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great review! Oh jeez, if I'd been you - I'd probably have swooned or burst into tears to be reviewed by HNS! And sounds like you had a blast of a week!