Young Bloods by Simon Scarrow

A review of the historical novel Young Bloods by Simon Scarrow.

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Young Bloods is the first in a series of four books set in the Napoleonic era detailing the lives of Arthur Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington) and Napoleon Bonaparte. The series goes through timelines of both iconic characters from the moment of their birth, detailing key events in history from Napoleons attempted conquest of Egypt and his Italian campaign to Arthur Wellesley and the British conquest of the Indian sub-continent right up until the point where both characters meet at the legendary battle of Waterloo.

Rather than having an entire book dedicated to each character, the story changes from one to the other at key time intervals throughout. This style of writing allows the reader to keep up with the story on both characters without the need to keep referencing different books to know what each character is doing at that time. It brilliantly depicts the differences in each of the characters personalities, for example Napoleon seems to try and find the enemy in everyone and is very outspoken, whereas Arthur tries to find every reason to call someone a friend and is very reserved.

For the most part Napoleon’s life is set in a meritocratic society created in the wake of revolutionary France. It sees his career sky rocket through the opportunities that present themselves to him which eventually see him become Emperor of the French, an astonishing achievement for a man born to minor Corsican aristocratic family.

Arthur spends half his life in self-pity for being third born to a minor aristocratic Irish family, with no claim to inheritance, in a society that prides itself on pedigree rather than merit. Constantly reading French newspapers regarding the meteoric rise of his Corsican counterpart, Arthur dedicates his life to the destruction of Napoleon and the French revolution that threatens to destroy everything that he loves.

The story is a fantastic read and the author captures the traits and characteristics of these two men perfectly. Young Bloods is a great opening to the series, which overall is one of the greatest stories I have ever read.

David Delphine lives in Margate with his wife and daughter. He is an avid reader of historical fact and fiction.

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