January 28, 2006

Napoleonic Apples and Oranges

The Missus gave me a couple of new Richard Sharpe books this wee - Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Regiment.

I can't help noticing that Sharpe's Trafalgar contains a plug on the cover from The Economist that reads "The direct heir to Patrick O'Brian".

Pardon me, but this is complete rubbish. Bernard Cornwell is certainly an entertaining author, but O'Brian's novels rise to the level of what people like to call "liddashur" whereas Cornwell's simply don't. Indeed, his writing is much closer to C.S. Forester's Hornblower series if comparisons must be made.

Still going to enjoy reading them, tho.

Posted by Robert at January 28, 2006 12:36 PM | TrackBack

Right you are. Cornwell is entertaining, but not by any means in the same class as O'Brian.

In the historical fiction genre, for something absolutely unique (funny, thrilling, bawdy and historically accurate), I recommend the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. If you've already read those, try Fraser's comic short stories about Private McCausland in North Africa.

Posted by: D. Carter at January 29, 2006 04:52 PM

Thanks. I've read one of Dudley Pope's Lord Ramage adventures - it's enough to make me want to read more, although I think Pope's a better historian than dramatist. I've also read a couple of Richard Woodman's Nathaniel Drinkwater novels and find them really not to be worth the time.

I'm always on the lookout for good, solid historical fiction, especially that of sea life in the Napoleonic Era. I think the truth of the matter is that there are a goodish number of decent, workman-like stories out there. What makes O'Brian unusual is the literary merit of his writing.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at January 29, 2006 10:35 PM

You may very well also enjoy Alan Mallinson's books. He tries to do for the Dragoons what O'Brian did for the Navy, same time frame and all. Entertaining but also no heir.

Posted by: RP at January 30, 2006 08:43 AM

I'm currently reading Sharpe's Triumph, and have Fortress and Trafalgar on the shelf still to be read.

Posted by: Ith at January 30, 2006 11:31 AM

You're going to hate me for this, but the Sharpe's series, 14 DVDs long, is available on Netflix.

I'm up to #14.

Posted by: N. O'Brain at January 30, 2006 03:14 PM

Oooh, I probably shouldn't know that. I saw a few episodes quite a while back and my impression was that Cornwell translated to screen very well. (In fact, I believe he collaborates in the screenplays.)

'Bout time to check up, I guess.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at January 30, 2006 04:22 PM

I started reading the books from watching the movies. Good stuff! Doesn't hurt that they star Sean Bean either :)

Posted by: Ith at January 30, 2006 06:53 PM