Monday, 18 May 2015

James Burke: the story so far

Last week saw the publication of 'Burke at Waterloo'. It's the third book in the 'His Majesty's Confidential Agent' series. (Hereabouts we refer to them as 'the Burke books' but that's not their official name, for fairly obvious reasons.) Our hero, James Burke, was a real person and his first adventure ('Burke in the Land of Silver') was based on a true story. The other two are written around actual events, but Burke's role in them is entirely fictional. It's given me more of a free hand in developing James Burke as a sort of cross between Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe and Ian Fleming's James Bond. The stories aren't really written in order (there's quite a long time gap in the middle of the first book and the adventures in the second one fill that gap) and you don't have to read them in order. But I did realise the other day that if you buy all three on Kindle, you can get them for a whisker under £5.($7.65 in the US.) That's a quarter of a million words of Napoleonic adventure for £4.97. You'd be mad not to, really.

Anyway, her's what you get for your £4.97.

Burke in the Land of Silver (originally published as 'His Majesty's Confidential Agent')

James Burke is sent to South America to prepare for a British invasion. (We're not that keen on the Spanish at the time.) All goes well until the British occupy Buenos Aires and, instead of allying with the locals, start treating them slightly worse than the Spaniards had. Burke's attempts to negotiate a British withdrawal end with him in front of a firing squad.

There's more double-dealing, wild women and political intrigue than you could ever make up. A thrilling tale from a time when the world was in turmoil and a few good men (or, I'm afraid, quite often bad men) could change the course of history.

Burke and the Bedouin 

In 1798, there were rumours that the French might be planning an expedition to Egypt. James Burke is despatched by the British Secret Service to see if there is any evidence of French activity in the country. Irritated by what he thinks will turn out a wild goose chase, Burke is far more interested in the fate of Bernadita, the Spanish girl he finds imprisoned as a slave in Cairo, than he is in improbable French agents. Then, fleeing with Bernadita, he stumbles across the French plot.

The race is on to stop Napoleon and Burke sets in motion a train of events that ends in one of the great naval battles of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Review described 'Burke and the Bedouin' as "an entertaining light read", which is good, because that's what I set out to write. The history is solid, though, (and the Historical Novel Society likes the battle scenes).


Burke at Waterloo

If you write stories set in the Napoleonic Wars, it's the law that you have to do Waterloo. 18 June is the 200th anniversary of the battle, so now seemed a good time to have Burke there at Napoleon's downfall.

Burke is sent to Paris where Bonapartists are plotting the assassination of the Duke of Wellington. (For some reason, the history books tend to neglect this, but they really were.) Having foiled their dastardly plans (spoiler: the Duke of Wellington survives), Burke pursues their leader to Brussels where people are far too busy celebrating the peace to think that Napoleon is still a threat to Europe.

Then the Corsican Tyrant flees Elba and everything changes.

As Wellington arrives in Brussels and Europe prepares once again for war, Burke is at the centre of affairs. And his own mission and the fight against Napoleon both come to a bloody climax on the field of Waterloo.

Paul Collard (author of the Jack Lark series) said of this book,"This really is historical fiction as it should be written."


What reviewers have said about James Burke

"James Bond in breeches, this novel (and others in the series) should satisfy fans of the era and the Sharpe novels." Laura Wilkinson on Amazon

"... exciting, clear, fast moving and so interesting about the history and geography of the time" on Amazon

"Tom Williams brings Burke and his adventures in South America to vivid life through telling but never intrusive detail" on Amazon

"Great swashbuckling fun!" on Amazon

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