Magazine article The Spectator

'Words of Command', by Allan Mallinson - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Words of Command', by Allan Mallinson - Review

Article excerpt

Words of Command Allan Mallinson

Bantam Press, pp.383, £18.99, ISBN: 9780593073223

Allan Mallinson's historical series concerning Matthew Hervey, the well-bred, thoughtful soldier, details a world where men are practical and not too clever; where the only sensible vote is Tory; where Moors make 'uncommonly good cymbalists'. Everything gleams, buffed up to a shining surface: it is a fantasy of empire and glory.

Two thirds of the way through this, the 12th book, our hero finds himself at the site of the Battle of Waterloo. He himself had fought there as a young cornet; now, almost 20 years later, and in command of his own regiment, he reconsiders the scene. It's a nice meta-fictional moment, as he comments upon the adventures that were expressed in such swashbuckling manner in the first book, A Close Run Thing (which, intentionally or not, is also one of the chapter headings here).

It is necessary for Hervey to look back over his past as, unfortunately for him, it's peacetime, and snowing, and there are precious few opportunities for sabre-thrusting or leading charges, other than a couple of skirmishes with ruffians. …

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