Category Archives: Paul Fraser Collard

Paul Fraser Collard: The True Soldier (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

UK flag (1973 – )

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

The True Soldier  (2017)
(The sixth book in the Jack Lark series)
book cover of The True Soldier

April, 1861. Jack Lark arrives in Boston as civil war storms across America.

A hardened soldier, Jack has always gone where he was ordered to go – and killed the enemy he was ordered to kill. But when he becomes a sergeant for the Union army, he realises that this conflict between North and South is different. Men are choosing to fight – and die – for a cause they believe in.

The people of Boston think it will take just one, great battle. But, with years of experience, Jack knows better. This is the beginning of something that will tear a country apart – and force Jack to see what he is truly fighting for.

Review

I have to be transparent from the start, i’m a HUGE fan of this series, If any writer has managed to capture the spirit and adventure of Sharpe and the daring of his character then its Paul Collard, but he has done it in his own unique way with his own unique character, Jack Lark. ( Jack Lark v Sharpe).

What this series has (for me) more than Bernard Cornwells Sharpe is a disquiet about war. Jack like Sharp is a beast of war, but Jack Lark sees and feels the darkness and futility of war, he like Sharpe has also been on both sides of the army line, both soldier and officer, but his was always riven with fear of being discovered. But no longer, now Jack is himself and essentially a mercenary, he is in America and Civil War has begun, Jack has been tasked with looking after a rich mans son, but Jack is also a consummate professional, and can’t help but impose his skills on his men, to turn them into the best fighting men they can be.

When i started reading this book i felt it had a slight melancholy edge, one that blended perfectly with the feelings i experienced after waking to the Manchester bombings, joining Jack in that feeling of hopelessness and darkness, Paul Collard had captured that feeling so well, the futility of all that death. The book moves on from there, but gone is the Jack we knew, he is older, and no longer having to hide who he is. But does he like who he has found himself to be, he like America is searching for his identity, fighting to make a place for himself.

This is the best book Paul Collard has written, the most accomplished with the most mature writing, i did tell him it wasn’t my fav read when i was about 30% in, but i was wrong, it is. As the book progressed it worked its magic on me and it made me love it so much so that once again i miss Jack Lark his absence leave a hole that hard for another book to fill, a year is a long time to wait until his next adventure but the wait i’m sure will be worth it as there is so much detail and depth, and so many places for Jack to be Jack in a Civil War torn USA.

Very Highly Recommended

(Parm)

Buy a Signed Copy

 

Series
Jack Lark
0.5. Rogue (2014)
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
4. The Lone Warrior (2015)
5. The Last Legionnaire (2016)
aka The Forgotten Son
6. The True Soldier (2017)
Recruit (2015)
Redcoat (2015)
The Jack Lark Library (omnibus) (2017)
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Jack Lark v Sharpe….

Richard Sharpe and Jack Lark

THE LAST LEGIONNAIRE COVER

Richard Sharpe 21 (11)

Jack Lark 8

What is the score for you might wonder? well since Paul Collard burst onto the scene only a short 3 years ago i have been unable to do anything but relate his fantastic character Jack Lark to anyone but Sharpe, not because he is a copy or parody of Sharpe, but its the closest genre comparison i can think of.

Jack Lark is a man from the ranks making his way as an officer, only unlike Sharpe who makes no pretense to being well bred and from the upper echelons of society, Jack must do so. He is a trickster a Loki character,  making his way by guile, deception and skill. This for me makes him a more subtle character than Sharpe who bludgeons his way through his escapades, his softer edges provided by his ancillary characters, Jack can’t have those blending tones provided by anyone but himself, to do so would be to admit to what he really is (which doesn’t come until more recently in the series), so Paul Collard needs to really expose and explore the soul of his character, making him someone the reader can really connect with, in comparison to Sharpe who you want to be because he is the rugged adventurer.

From a readers perspective i always have to play “which is my fave series” , its just one of those reading things, and its a hard thing to consider with these two series…. (lets face it Sharpe would wipe the floor with Jack in a one on one scrap…) but this is more subtle than that. Sharpe was a stand out book of its time, the character so iconic that it inspired a TV series, but then the TV series took on a stature greater than the books, Sean Bean became Sharpe. Can anyone honestly read or picture Sharpe as anyone but Sean Bean? that’s a huge testament to the production team and also to the actor himself. But this achievement also in my opinion also sounded the death knell for the quality of the books, i don’t know what it was, time? having to commit so much to the TV series  or just that the author didnt need to try so hard any more? but for me the books declined from about book 11 Waterloo (note the bracketed 11 above next to Cornwells name), maybe its just that a series ultimately has a lifespan and you have to kill people. This possibly is where Sharpe has some strengths that Jack Lark doesn’t, Sharpe has his Rifles, he has characters to build, to make you connect with and love, and then to kill in sudden startling realism, leaving behind a hole, a loss that cant help but have an impact on the reader (Lets face it Patrick Harper became almost as iconic as Sharpe). Jack Lark being a solitary character  with his only co-stars coming and going in a single book means that the readers don’t build that bond with anyone else, and Jack Lark cannot die, not without the death of the series, so there is certainly something to be said for a band of men v a solo character, maybe the longevity is provided by the variance of the group?

From a plot perspective, you want your man in all the big fights of their time, Sharpe was always constrained by the War he was in, and where his regiment was, and who he was, his rank etc. Jack Lark has never had those constraints, he is whomever he makes himself into. This means that Paul Collard can take him anywhere, any country any conflict, always one step ahead of the establishment, one step ahead of his past, and as such always in the thick of the worst that humanity can imagine on a battle field, where Jack doesn’t have a group dynamic for longevity i think he gains ground with the fact he has freedom to go and fight anywhere.

So ultimately while Sharpe is a few goals (books) ahead , there is lots of this game left to play and with the way the Jack Lark Series is growing and the intricacy and depth of the plot increasing i can see that 3 book deficit being closed down very fast…. hopefully the publishers will see the power of the series and we will have many more to come, as well as mixing it up for the writer with something else (cant beat a bit of diversity on series). Who knows, maybe Jack Lark will get his own outing on the screen, its certainly a very intriguing idea for a TV show.

If you have not read the books i hope this gives you pause to stop and go get one

Inspiration for Jack Lark

 

Jack Lark Novellas / Prequels:

Buy Rogue

Review

book cover of Rogue

The first e-novella featuring the early life of Jack Lark, the boy who will one day become The Scarlet Thief.

As pot boy at his mother’s infamous London gin palace, Jack Lark is no stranger to trouble.
Between dog fights and street scuffles, if he’s not being set upon, he’s starting a brawl himself. But when an unlikely ally draws him from the dark alleys of the East End into the bright lights of a masked ball, he gets a glimpse of another life. That life, once seen, is impossible to forget.
Jack will do anything to outwit, outsmart and escape the cruelty in his own home. He is determined to get out, but what price will he be forced to pay for his freedom?

Buy Recruit

book cover of Recruit

Forced to leave London, young recruit Jack Lark is determined to make his way as a Redcoat. Despite the daily tirades of Sergeant Slater, a sadistic monster of a man who sees his new trainees as the scum of the earth, Jack holds on to his belief that the Army will give him a better life.

His comrades are a rough and ready bunch, and Jack falls in with Charlie Evans, a cheerful young clerk who quickly comes to regret joining up. But once you’ve taken the Queen’s Shilling, there is no way out: deserters always pay the highest price.

As Charlie schemes to escape, Jack, always a loyal friend, is forced into an impossible situation where the wrong move could leave him taking the long walk to the gallows…

Buy Redcoat

book cover of Redcoat

The third e-novella featuring young Jack Lark – now a young Redcoat yearning to rise above his lot in life – following Rogue and Recruit

Private Jack Lark wears his red coat with pride. Though life in Queen Victoria’s service is tough, he relishes the camaraderie of Aldershot barracks, and four years’ harsh discipline hasn’t blunted his desire to be more than just a Redcoat.

When he learns that Captain Sloames needs a new orderly, Jack is determined to prove his worth both to the officer and to Molly, the laundry girl who has caught his eye. But standing in his way is Colour Sergeant Slater, a cruel and vicious bull of a man who loathes Jack, and is longing for the chance to ruin his ambition…

The Jack Lark Series (full Novels)

Buy Scarlet Thief

Debut Review

The new Richard Sharpe bursts onto the historical adventure scene in a brilliant, action-packed debut of Redcoat battle and bloodshed.

1854: The banks of the Alma River, Crimean Peninsular. The Redcoats stagger to a bloody halt. The men of the King’s Royal Fusiliers are in terrible trouble, ducking and twisting as the storm of shot, shell and bullet tear through their ranks.

Officer Jack Lark has to act immediately and decisively. His life and the success of the campaign depend on it. But does he have the mettle, the officer qualities that are the life blood of the British Army? From a poor background Lark has risen through the ranks by stealth and guile and now he faces the ultimate test…

THE SCARLET THIEF introduces us to a formidable and compelling hero – brutally courageous, roguish, ambitious – in a historical novel as robust as it is thrillingly authentic by an author who brings history and battle vividly alive.

Buy The Maharajah’s General

Review

A riveting tale of battle and adventure in a brutal land, where loyalty and courage are constantly challenged and the enemy is never far away.

Jack Lark barely survived the Battle of the Alma. As the brutal fight raged, he discovered the true duty that came with the officer’s commission he’d taken. In hospital, wounded, and with his stolen life left lying on the battlefield, he grasps a chance to prove himself a leader once more. Poor Captain Danbury is dead, but Jack will travel to his new regiment in India, under his name.

Jack soon finds more enemies, but this time they’re on his own side. Exposed as a fraud, he’s rescued by the chaplain’s beautiful daughter, who has her own reasons to escape. They seek desperate refuge with the Maharajah of Sawadh, the charismatic leader whom the British Army must subdue. He sees Jack as a curiosity, but recognises a fellow military mind. In return for his safety, Jack must train the very army the British may soon have to fight..

Buy The Devils Assassin

Book Review

The bold hero of THE SCARLET THIEF and THE MAHARAJAH’S GENERAL returns in an exhilarating and dangerous new adventure.

Bombay, 1857. Jack Lark is living precariously as an officer when his heroic but fraudulent past is discovered by the Devil – Major Ballard, the army’s intelligence officer. Ballard is gathering a web of information to defend the British Empire, and he needs a man like Jack on his side. Not far away, in Persia, the Shah is moving against British territory and, with the Russians whispering in his ear, seeks to conquer the crucial city of Herat. The Empire’s strength is under threat and the army must fight back.

As the British march to war, Jack learns that secrets crucial to the campaign’s success are leaking into their enemies’ hands. Ballard has brought him to the battlefield to end a spy’s deceit. But who is the traitor?

THE DEVIL’S ASSASSIN sweeps Jack Lark through a thrilling tale of explosive action as the British face the Persian army in the inky darkness of the desert night.

Buy The Lone Warrior

Review of Book

Jack Lark, once the Scarlet Thief, has fought hard for his freedom. But will he risk it all to do the right thing?

Bombay, 1857. India is simmering with discontent, and Jack Lark, honourably discharged from the British Army, aims to take the first ship back to England. But before he leaves, he cannot resist the adventure of helping a young woman escape imprisonment in a gaming house. He promises to escort Aamira home, but they arrive in Delhi just as the Indian Mutiny explodes.

As both sides commit horrific slaughter and the siege of Delhi begins, Jack realises that despite the danger he cannot stand by and watch. At heart, he is still a soldier…

Buy The Last Legionnaire

Book Review

Jack Lark has come a long way since his days as a gin palace pot boy. But can he surrender the thrill of freedom to return home?

London, 1859. After years fighting for Queen and country, Jack walks back into his mother’s East End gin palace a changed man. Haunted by the horrors of battle, and the constant fight for survival, he longs for a life to call his own. But the city – and its people – has altered almost beyond recognition, and Jack cannot see a place for himself there.

A desperate moment leaves him indebted to the Devil – intelligence officer Major John Ballard, who once again leads Jack to the battlefield with a task he can’t refuse. He tried to deny being a soldier once. He won’t make the same mistake again.

Europe is about to go to war. Jack Lark will march with them

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Paul Fraser Collard (Guest Blog) Shades of Grey

Guest Blog: 

Shades of Grey

Paul Fraser Collard

The debate around the accuracy found in historical fiction novels has been going on for so long that it would appear that the argument has pretty much been settled. If you are in any doubt as to this, then read Professor David Starkey’s comments on the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11369868/Wolf-Hall-is-deliberate-perversion-of-history-says-David-Starkey.html)

Historians discover the truth of past events. They never say a thing happened unless they can prove it. They inhabit a world of footnotes and references, every fact crosschecked and verified. Theirs is a world of black and white, where opinion matters little and the evidence speaks for itself.

Writers of historical fiction are little more than plagiarists who steal the stories of the past and take them for their own, twisting and distorting the truth along the way so that facts become blurred with fiction. Theirs is a world of grey and shadow, where interpretation and imagination play as much of a role as research and investigation.

So far, so simple. Historians deal in fact. Historical fiction writers peddle stories.

But what are these facts? The truth is that for every known fact there are a dozen gaps in our knowledge. It may be inconvenient, but there are enormous swathes of the past that are simply covered with shadow. Historians work hard to discern the truth, but they cannot base everything on evidence. Where the details are lost in the murk, they do their best to interpret what they know and what they don’t know. They use logical construct to discern the truth and they do so through their own bias and experience.

Unsurprisingly, historians do not always agree. Those with differences in background, religion, ideology, race and experience will all interpret the past in different ways. This is what makes history so fascinating. It is alive. It is changing. And a lot of it is grey.

That is the key. The past is not all black and white. If it were so, then we would need just one historian per period to discern the truth and then write it down for future generations to enjoy. Simple. Job done. But like many things, it is just not that straightforward. Historians are individuals with their own ideas and complicated prejudices who discern historical events in their own way. They layer known facts with interpretation. They discover as much black and white as they can and then do their best to work through the grey. The result is their own, personal take on what happened.

But layers of grey do not make black. They just make grey.

Let us look at the area that fascinates me the most – war. Wars dominate history. They are the great, cataclysmic events that shape whole generations and, as such, they are often the places where historians congregate.

I have read a hundred accounts of battle. Resources abound for these major events, with dozens of plans, schematics and charts available for every military encounter I have ever researched. They all share one important trait: they were constructed after the battle.

It is only after a battle that some sense of it can be made. When two armies clash there is really nothing but chaos; a bloody, swirling confusion where no one, especially the generals ostensibly in charge, have little more than a vague idea of what is going on. Only when the killing and the maiming is done, can black and white be discerned from grey.

This interpretation of a battle will only ever tell us so much. We will know what the victor thinks happened, and perhaps what the loser thought too. We will know which regiment was ordered where, and maybe what it really did once it had received those orders. This is all fascinating stuff, but once it has been worked out, and a general consensus reached on what happened, the accounts quickly become dusty and dry. Although we have decided pretty much why one side lost and why the other was defeated, we have lost a sense of what happened in the murky, grey world of combat.

This is where I step in. I want to know more than just the strategy and the tactics. I want to know what the battle was really like. What did the soldiers feel as their general ordered them to march straight into the enemy’s guns? What was it like to go bayonet to bayonet with a foreign foe? What did a redcoat feel, as he looked another man in the eye and gouged out his life with seventeen inches of bare steel? I want to look into the grey and see what happened.

I attempt to do so by weaving a story around the events. I want my readers to know what the soldiers went through. I want to make them smell the powder smoke and to feel the thunder of the cannon fire. I attempt to immerse them in my story so they can feel something of what these soldiers endured when they did their country’s bidding.

To do this, I use a made up character, in my case the roguish Jack Lark, and throw him into my choice of historical event. Of course, my Jack did not really exist, but he is my device, my bridge into history. I use him to show my readers what it was like to cross the Alma River and march into the face of the dug-in Russian guns, and what it felt like to ride with the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry as they destroyed a square of Persian infantry at the Battle of Khoosh-Ab. It is through Jack’s experiences that we can understand the terror felt by the men ordered into the breach at Delhi, and it is through his eyes that we can witness the wholesale slaughter found at the Battle of Solferino.

Jack is fictional, but the events he lives through are not. His experiences are based on the first-hand accounts, and the words, of the men and women who really experienced them. I am not working in a world of black and white; I am firmly in the grey, but I would argue no more so than anyone else. I am interpreting what we know and what we don’t, and using a story to bring it all to life.

I am doing what historians do, just presenting it a different way. I tell a story rather than write an account, and there are dozens of brilliant writers out there doing the same. Together we are giving our all to make sure that the events of the past are not forgotten. Our novels can be as accurate as the best historian’s work, whilst being as exhilarating as watching a blockbuster movie.

We take the black, the white and grey and we fuse it all together. Entertainment and education in one scintillating package.

 

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‘Enthralling’ – The Times

 THE LAST LEGIONNAIRE

Paul Fraser Collard

 

The fifth action-packed Victorian military adventure featuring hero Jack Lark: soldier · leader · imposter

Paul Fraser Collard’s Jack Lark series continues with The Last Legionnaire,

which sees Jack marching into the biggest battle Europe has ever known.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow’s Britannia will delight in

the fast pace and vivid storytelling of Jack’s fifth adventure.

Jack Lark has come a long way since his days as a gin palace pot boy.

But can he surrender the thrill of freedom to return home?

London, 1859. After years fighting for Queen and country, Jack walks back into his mother’s East End gin palace a changed man. Haunted by the horrors of battle, and the constant fight for survival, he longs for a life to call his own. But the city – and its people – has altered almost beyond recognition, and Jack cannot see a place for himself there.

A desperate moment leaves him indebted to the Devil – intelligence officer Major John Ballard, who once again leads Jack to the battlefield with a task he can’t refuse. He tried to deny being a soldier once. He won’t make the same mistake again.

Europe is about to go to war. Jack Lark will march with them.

Reunite with Jack as he fights in the war between France and Austria, culminating in the Battle of Solferino, the biggest battle fought in Europe which led to the establishment of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention.

 

‘Brilliant’

Bernard Cornwell

 

‘I love a writer who wears his history lightly enough for the story he’s telling

to blaze across the pages like this. Jack Lark is an unforgettable new hero’

Anthony Riches

 

‘It felt accurate, it felt real, it felt alive… Every line every paragraph and page of the battles had me hooked, riveted to the page, there were times when I was almost as breathless as the exhausted soldiers’

Parmenion Books

About the Author

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British Army and he succeeded in winning an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

 

Headline │ISBN: 9781472222756 │ 7 April 2016 │ Hardback │ £19.99

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Paul Fraser Collard : The Last Legionnaire (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard
UK (1973 – )

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

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The Last Legionnaire  (2016)
(The Forgotten Son)
(The fifth book in the Jack Lark series)

After years fighting for Queen and country, and for his own survival, Jack Lark finds his way back to his mother’s gin palace. But life as a soldier has changed him almost beyond recognition, and London is no longer the city he remembers.

In a desperate moment, he makes a mistake that leads him back to where he swore he’d never return – the battlefield…

Review

Paul Collard’s Jack Lark series has joined a celebrated few that are on my “drop what ever you are reading and read his new book now” list. Which is exactly what i did when i got my hands on The Last Legionnaire.

The books have always had comparisons to Bernard Cornwell’s  iconic character Sharpe, and with good reason, both are the same character from the gutter making their way in an officers world, only their routes there differ, Sharpe by battering his way to the top, Jack Lark through lies, fraud and skill and courage. They both also have that fast flowing action packed writing style that keeps you turning the next page through to the early hours of the morning.

In this latest book Jack finally returns home to London and his mothers gin palace, bringing with him all his dark emotional baggage. Hi travels from the Crimea to Delhi, with so many battles and so much death in between, Jack is a man who’s soul is battered and scarred, he needs to come home to heal, to return to the old familiarity of the rough London streets.

Jacks home-coming is not at all that he wanted, this includes the return to his life of the Intelligence Major Ballard and his bodyguard  Palmer. Jack is soon back off to war to use his skills of lies deception and courage to help in a new mission. The theater is Europe, Jack marches with the French against the Austrians, and while many of the troop maneuvers are similar to ones that Sharpe may remember the ordnance isn’t. This is the start of a more modern war, rifled cannon, creating death on a new scale.

I powered through this latest book from Paul Collard, and when i finished i summarised the book immediatly, i wanted the instant impact to be the end line of my review: “harrowing and shockingly dark, this book is utterly emotionally mind numbing. Stunning work.”

I now have three of my top books for the year (including this one), choosing the best of 2016 is going to be almost impossible at this rate.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series

The Last Legionnaire (Jack Lark 5)

 

Jack Lark
0.5. Rogue (2014)
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
4. The Lone Warrior (2015)
5. The Last Legionnaire (2016)
aka The Forgotten Son
Recruit (2015)
Redcoat (2015)

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Paul Fraser Collard: The Lone Warrior (2015) Review

Paul Fraser Collard
UK (1973 – )

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

Buy a signed copy

The Lone Warrior  (2015)

book cover of The Lone Warrior

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Description

Jack Lark, once the Scarlet Thief, has fought hard for his freedom. But will he risk it all to do the right thing?

Bombay, 1857. India is simmering with discontent, and Jack Lark, honourably discharged from the British Army, aims to take the first ship back to England. But before he leaves, he cannot resist the adventure of helping a young woman escape imprisonment in a gaming house. He promises to escort Aamira home, but they arrive in Delhi just as the Indian Mutiny explodes.

As both sides commit horrific slaughter and the siege of Delhi begins, Jack realises that despite the danger he cannot stand by and watch. At heart, he is still a soldier…

Review

Paul Collard and Jack Lark have taken us on an amazing journey, from book one on the fields of The Crimea to India and Persia, from a charlatan to a man now possessed of the ability to keep his own name, and pursue his own destiny.

Last night I rather shame faced sat down with Lone Warrior, things had delayed my start of this book, in a series I truly love. Paul Collard has a style of writing that just grabs the reader and thrusts then to the fore with Jack, through escapades and emotions that take you from joy to despair, because Jack is a man driven by his passions. Most of all Paul Collard can tell a tale. As Tony Riches put it he is a “writer who wears his history lightly”, the research and passion for the subject is all there but it only compliments the story, Paul’s passion and characters drive the story.

Lone Warrior is no exception in this series, this is a 370 page book and I only started it last night about 10pm, yet when I closed the book to sleep, it was having read the words “Lets see where that takes him”. The last words of the Historical note and ones that again make me yearn for the next book. It was I admit well into the early hours to read that much, but at the same time, the book flew, the swashbuckling adventures of the start of this book, through to the inevitable horror of Delhi (we the reader have known that the series was heading for the Indian Mutiny). I think Paul Collard has been brave to tackle such a horrific incident as the mutiny, and the siege of Delhi is indeed a place of horror and the author pulls no punches, yet at the same time his writing and his character Jack Lark’s emotions and despair and personal turmoil somehow alleviate this horror (for me anyway), the personal experience of the individual somehow softens the overall scene. In amongst this Paul Collard takes the reader inside the British army of the 1850’s, giving a real insight into the why of the mutiny, whilst also showing the many faces of heroism and gallantry that were displayed in this horrific time.

As ever Jack loves with wild passion, fights with total animal instinct and desperate energy and manages to enthral the reader even amongst the horror of war. This series never disappoints, it delights, it entertains it thrills the reader. It is always on my must read list every year. I encourage each and everyone to read it, you don’t have to love History to read this (series), you just need to love reading great books.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

(I feel a book hangover now…. No idea what to read next)

Series
Jack Lark
1. Scarlet Thief (2013)
2.Maharajahs General (2013)
3. The Devils Assassin (2015)
4. The Lone Warrior (2015)
5. The Forgotten Son (2016)
Rogue (2014)
Recruit (2015)
Redcoat (2015)

 

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Paul Fraser Collard: Devil’s Assassin (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

Devil’s Assassin

The bold hero of THE SCARLET THIEF and THE MAHARAJAH’S GENERAL returns in an exhilarating and dangerous new adventure.

Bombay, 1857. Jack Lark is living precariously as an officer when his heroic but fraudulent past is discovered by the Devil – Major Ballard, the army’s intelligence officer. Ballard is gathering a web of information to defend the British Empire, and he needs a man like Jack on his side. Not far away, in Persia, the Shah is moving against British territory and, with the Russians whispering in his ear, seeks to conquer the crucial city of Herat. The Empire’s strength is under threat and the army must fight back.

As the British march to war, Jack learns that secrets crucial to the campaign’s success are leaking into their enemies’ hands. Ballard has brought him to the battlefield to end a spy’s deceit. But who is the traitor?

THE DEVIL’S ASSASSIN sweeps Jack Lark through a thrilling tale of explosive action as the British face the Persian army in the inky darkness of the desert night

Review

 DA PfC

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The book starts out with a splendid and evocative title, I have been speculating for some time as to the plot of this next Jack Lark book. Fortunately due to the vagaries of ordering some copies from the publisher im luck and they arrived so nice and early, my wait was finally over. Paul Collard has rapidly become mush read material, since the first book burst onto the market in 2013 (it seems so long ago) Scarlet Thief Review

Since that first book I have seen Paul Collards work get better and better ( Maharajah’s General Review ), more detailed, the plot tighter and tighter, the character growth sharp, to the point that you wonder if Jack will survive the book. There are the inevitable comparisons to Bernard Conwell’s Sharpe, Jack is a man from the ranks, brought up in the gutter. But that’s where in the main the similarities end. Sharpe never tried or pretended to the gentry, where Jack is living the lie, always looking over his shoulder, not to be stabbed in the back by some posh boy, but to be caught out, denounced. Will he get something wrong, will he bump into someone who knew the man he has assumed the identity of? That anticipation and fear oozes from the pages but only as the underlying heartbeat to each storyline, to each character that Jack dons and each dramatic situation he becomes embroiled in.

In devils assassin we are introduced to our usual cast of side characters, those who form the plot for Jack, the players in his elaborate scheme, those who really are the gentry of the regiment, the men who might find him out, the men he wants to prove he can be as good as , better than, to prove it’s the man not the lineage that defines.

Right from the start this book felt different, someone knows Jacks secret, and uses it to recruit Jack as a Spy Catcher, for once the fear of being discovered is reduced, and it has meant that the author is required to dial this back in the writing, it also means that that fear can be channelled into something else, and that’s the battles, the wild indiscriminate danger of war. No matter his orders Jack cannot restrain himself from being in the thick of the fight, a born leader, always at the front, going where many would fear to go, Jack has lost that fear, or at least lost the need to be controlled by it, because dead he has no more to worry about, and alive he must keep proving he is the better man and he can only do that from the front. Paul Collard has captured all of this perfectly.

I feel that many reader like me with be sat smugly from early in the book, saying “I know who the spy is”… I caution you now… beware that smugness, there is a twist in this tale, I had that smugness wiped off my face. Despite my protestations earlier in the review about the Lark/ Sharpe comparison, I have to admit to thinking that Devils Assassin could well have been a Sharpe tale, and that said fully as a compliment, I loved Sharpe. I think its because there was less fear at being caught as a pretender in his own life and more that he was an honest down to earth soldier thrust among the dandies and crazy gentry, trying to add some professional soldiers quality to the story, with a proper mission rather than just hiding in plain sight.

Personally I think Paul Collard has become one of the most readable figures in Historical Fiction, it helps that he is in a time period that is covered a lot more lightly than, eg, Rome, but I think he could pick out any period and his writing style would shine through. This truly is edge of the seat writing.

So once again I end a Jack Lark review with … HOW LONG …until the next one… a Year…. Sob??

Enjoy everyone, because if I get reading time I will do so again.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Jack Lark
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
Rogue (2014) (Short story)
Recruit (2015) (Short story)
The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharajah's GeneralThe Devil's AssassinRogue

2 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard

Paul Fraser Collard: Rogue (Review)

Paul Fraser Collard's picture

Paul Fraser Collard

UK (1973 – )
Paul’s love of military history started at an early age. A childhood spent watching films like Waterloo and Zulu whilst reading Sharpe, Flashman and the occasional Commando comic, gave him a desire to know more of the men who fought in the great wars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. At school, Paul was determined to become an officer in the British army and he succeeded in wining an Army Scholarship. However, Paul chose to give up his boyhood ambition and instead went into the finance industry. Paul stills works in the City, and lives with his wife and three children in Kent.

rogue

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Book Description

As pot boy at his mother’s infamous London gin palace, Jack Lark is no stranger to trouble.

Between dog fights and street scuffles, if he’s not being set upon, he’s starting a brawl himself. But when an unlikely ally draws him from the dark alleys of the East End into the bright lights of a masked ball, he gets a glimpse of another life. That life, once seen, is impossible to forget.

Jack will do anything to outwit, outsmart and escape the cruelty in his own home. He is determined to get out, but what price will he be forced to pay for his freedom?

Review

Short stories are always a tricky beast, how long should it be? is it a prequel? a side story and can you make a complete tale?

Rogue is 80 pages and that’s plenty for this tale, its a prequel, which for any fan or newbie to the Jack Lark story is great news, a chance to learn some of the background, the drivers for Jack, his personality and how he comes to blend so well with the officer class.

As ever the story is told with Paul Collards fast engaging pace, showing a rich vivid tapestry of the rookeries, Whitechapel London, the blend of poor society against the opulence of the privileged class.

I stayed up until midnight to start this short story (amazon wifi’d to my kindle at 00:01) and before my eyes gave out i have finished half the story, i woke up in the early hours with the kindle still in the covers. exhaustion was the only thing to stop this being a single sitting read. and for £1.99 its a bargain. In fact my only single gripe is why why why do we have to wait until June 2015 for part 2 *sob*

For those that have never read a Jack Lark book, please use this as an excuse to start, Paul Collard is a major new talent, who writes with a clear fast paced tight prose. His imagination and attention to historical detail clearly put him among the top in his field, Many have said his is the new sharpe, but that is a tired comparison now, used for too many authors. Suffices to say he has the skill and talent that Cornwell displayed, and that rocketed him to stardom.

I cannot wait for January 29th and Devils Assassin

(Parm)

Series

 

Jack Lark
1. The Scarlet Thief (2013)
2. The Maharajah’s General (2013)
3. The Devil’s Assassin (2015)
Rogue (2014)
Recruit (2015)
The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharajah's GeneralThe Devil's AssassinRogue

1 Comment

Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Paul Fraser Collard