Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Bloody Ground, Bernard Cornwell

Publishers: HarperCollins

Pages: 340

Main Characters:
Nate Starbuck

The Bloody Ground is the forth and at the moment last book in Bernard Cornwell’s Starbuck Chronicles. There are rumours that Cornwell will be adding to this series after a sixteen year break! I wish he would get back to Nate’s story because I love this series.
This novel picks up after Battle Flag as the Confederate army fights off the last Northern attack and finally goes on the offence and invades the North itself. The mastermind behind this plan is Robert Lee and for his plan to work he will need the best soldiers in the Confederate army, soldiers like Nathanial ‘Nate’ Starbuck. However instead of playing a key role in the leadership of the army, Nate’s enemies conspire against him and place him in the control of a ‘punishment’ Battalion. Hoping that with this Battalion’s poor record of routing, Nate will never become the great officer he is destined to be. But Nate turns his Battalion into a well-trained unit and is rewarded for his hard work by been given the command of the attack on the Northern Garrison at Harper’s Ferry. After his victory over the garrison, Nate and his Battalion then go onto Antietam Creek where the bloodiest battle ever fought in America pushes Nate to the limit. Meanwhile a conspiracy is happening at the heart of the Confederate army. One of Nate’s best friends Adam Falconer is trying to lead Lee’s army into a trap, to try and re-unite both the North and the South and stop the bloodshed spilt between American and American.
This book was brilliant and I can’t believe that Cornwell has left the series with this novel and hasn’t as yet written the next book. I suppose you could argue that during those sixteen years he has written some truly excellent books such as The Warlord Trilogy, The Grail Quest and The Saxon Stories as well as writing many new Sharpe books, so maybe hasn’t had time to get back to them. Nevertheless the four he has written were all brilliant and the thing I like the most about these books is that throughout the novels we get to see Nate grow from a boy into a man. As I have said in my earlier reviews, Cornwell’s technique of making a character who would not normally become a hero into a hero is most apparent in these novels. I think this is because they are set over such a small space of time. During that time Nate is put through some of the bloodiest battles in history, forcing him to become a leader of men (because so many officers were killed) and eventually become a hero. I do hope Conwell adds to these novels, it would be great to see where Nate’s path takes him after the Battle of Antietam.
Brilliant book, brilliant series but please Bernard do write some more of these books! Anyone who is a Cornwell fan will love this series. Also if you are interested in the Civil War period I think you would really like these books as Cornwell really brings the facts to life and portrays the horror of the battles in what some people call the first modern war.
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