I hadn’t read any of the Windrush books, but I will certainly be reading more. Mr Archibald has created a character that one wants to know more about.
The book is full of excitement and action, and the story holds the reader, wanting to know what happens next and how Jack can escape from the predicaments he finds himself in.
I read it in 3 sittings and found it hard to put down when I needed to do something.
Burmese War, 1852. Unable to join the famous Royal Malverns, Jack Windrush is commissioned into the despised 113th Foot.
Determined to rise in the ranks and make a name for himself, he is sent with the 113th to join the British expedition. But when they get involved in the attack of Rangoon, Jack realizes that war on the fringes of the Empire is not as honourable and glorious as he expected.
After a chance meeting with a renegade British soldier, Jack witnesses the true terrors of war, and begins to question the whole framework in which he has grown up.
The main character, Jack Windrush, is going to join the Royal Malverns like his father and grandfather before him. He has dreams of glorious warfare and winning honour. But things go against his dream and he finds himself in Burma with the despised 113th foot and discovers that war is dirty and frightening.
Through the book, Jack has doubts and fears but he grows and becomes a true leader.
Wells is a sergeant in the 113th. He is well-drawn by Mr Archibald. We can truly believe he is what he is portrayed to be, a hard-bitten career soldier. But why did he decide to stay in Burma and not return to England with his regiment? And why has he volunteered to join the 113th?
There is sensitive writing of the only female character in the Burma part of the story. Her name is Myat and she is something of a mysterious character, but she has an important role in Jack’s development.
The other characters are mainly officers who are hidebound and unbending. I suspect a lot of Victorian officers were like this.
Even the despised soldiers of the 113th have their own growth arcs.
The writing gripped me. I could feel the heat and humidity and the biting insects in the forest, and hear the drums of the natives.
I felt Jack’s suppressed fear, as he went into battle for the first time, and his determination not to show it. It would not be gentleman-like, nor officer-like.
There were one or two typos that had got through, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story.
I give it 5*
My ranking of books. In order to get a particular number of stars, it is not necessary to meet all the criteria. This is a guide only.
5* Exceptional. Wonderful story. Setting well drawn, and characters believable. Not perfect, but with flaws. Will keep you up all night. No typos or grammatical errors.
4* A thoroughly enjoyable read. Great and original story. Believable setting and characters. Very few grammatical errors or typos.
3* I enjoyed it. Good story. Characters need some development. Some typos or grammatical errors.
2* Not for me. Story not very strong. Unbelievable and flat characters. Setting not clearly defined. Many typos or grammatical errors.
1* I hated it. Story almost non-existent. Setting poor. Possibly couldn’t finish it.