My Review of BURKE IN THE LAND OF SILVER by Tom Williams #TuesdayBookBlog

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Book Description

James Burke never set out to be a spy. But with Napoleon rampaging through Europe, the War Office needs agents and Burke isn’t given a choice. It’s no business for a gentleman, and disguising himself as a Buenos Aires leather merchant is a new low. His mission, though, means fighting alongside men who see the collapse of the old order giving them a chance to break free of Spanish colonial rule.

He falls in love with the country – and with the beautiful Ana. Burke wants both to forward British interests and to free Argentina from Spain. But his new found selflessness comes up against the realities of international politics. When the British invade, his attempts to parley between the rebels and their new rulers leave everybody suspicious of him.

Despised by the British, imprisoned by the Spanish and with Ana leaving him for the rebel leader, it takes all Burke’s resolve and cunning to escape. Only after adventuring through the throne rooms and bedrooms of the Spanish court will he finally come back to Buenos Aires, to see Ana again and avenge himself on the man who betrayed him.

 

My Review: I gave Burke in the Land of Silver 3* out of 5*

Burke in the Land of Silver is an historical novel set mainly during the Napoleonic wars and in Argentina  It is obvious from the start that the author, Tom Williams, has researched extensively both the era, the customs of the countries that the protagonist, James Burke (a spy for the English) is purported to hail from, and the historical facts that are the background of the novel..

The plot is sometimes convoluted and quite slow but interesting.

And the details and descriptions that give the settings a good sense of place kept me reading.

 Told in the first person point of view from the perspective of James Burke (who, apparently actually existed), I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the world and the people he encountered. And I did like the sardonic tone of much of his internal dialogue. But I didn’t feel that I ever really got to know, or even like him much, and this detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

I also struggled with some of the minor characters, though I quite liked the way William, ex soldier and now servant to Burke emulated the way Burke assumed different roles in the plot. And the portrayal of O’Gorman was cleverly written; an astute merchant who was also rather a buffoon, I thought. But the love angle of the protagonist with O’Gorman’s wife, Ana, felt laborious and artificial in the beginning and lacking in really true attraction between them.

The dialogue is well written and differentiates the characters though; a great plus from my point of view.

Burke in the Land of Silver was drawn to my attention following reviews I’d read and I acquired it through Kindle Unlimited.On reflection I’d say I probably expected a more character driven story-line and was disappointed in this. But I did admire the author’s style of bringing to life the densely layered historical facts and so think this book would appeal to readers who enjoy both action adventure stories and historical fiction. 

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2DXfH4u

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2rtyCkT

 

About the author:

Tom Williams

Have you ever noticed how many authors are described as ‘reclusive’? I have a lot of sympathy for them. My feeling is that authors generally like to hide at home with their laptops or their quill pens and write stuff. If they enjoyed being in the public eye, they’d be stand-up comics or pop stars.

Nowadays, though, writers are told that their audiences want to be able to relate to them as people. I’m not entirely sure about that. If you knew me, you might not want to relate to me at all. But here in hyperspace I apparently have to tell you that I’m young and good looking and live somewhere exciting with a beautiful partner, a son who is a brain surgeon and a daughter who is a swimwear model. Then you’ll buy my book.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite true. I’m older than you can possibly imagine. (Certainly older than I ever imagined until I suddenly woke up and realised that age had snuck up on me.) I live in Richmond, which is nice and on the outskirts of London which is a truly amazing city to live in. My wife is beautiful but, more importantly, she’s a lawyer, which is handy because a household with a writer in it always needs someone who can earn decent money. My son has left home and we never got round to the daughter.

We did have a ferret, which I thought would be an appropriately writer sort of thing to have around but he recently got even older than me (in ferret years) and died. I’d try to say something snappy and amusing about that but we loved that ferret and snappy and amusing doesn’t quite cut it.

I street skate and ski and can dance a mean Argentine tango. I’ve spent a lot of my life writing very boring things for money (unless you’re in Customer Care, in which case ‘Dealing With Customer Complaints’ is really, really interesting). Now I’m writing for fun. OK, ‘The White Rajah’ isn’t exactly a bundle of laughs but it has pirates and battles and an evil villain and it’s a lot more fun than a review of the impact of legal advice on debt management. (Yes, in my time I’ve written some very, very boring things. Unless you’re interested in debt management, in which case I’m told my words are pure gold.)

If you all buy my book, I’ll be able to finish the next ones and I’ll never have to work for the insurance industry again and that will be a good thing, yes? So you’ll not only get to read a brilliant novel but your karmic balance will move rapidly into credit.

Can I go back to being reclusive now?

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My Review of Back Home by Tom Williams for #RBRT

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I gave Back Home 5* out of 5*

It is with thanks to both Tom Williams and Rosie Amber that I received this book as part of #RBRT for a fair review.

The Blurb:

The final thrilling instalment in the Williamson Papers, set in a superbly drawn Victorian London. Back in England after surviving the horrors of Cawnpore, John Williamson returns to his hometown. On looking up an old friend, he finds the man hasn’t been heard of since his departure to London, the glamorous capital of the British Empire. Concerned for his friend’s safety, Williamson follows him to the metropolis, where he has fallen into bad company and now dwells in the notorious rookery of Seven Dials. Worse still, the intelligence services are on his trail, convinced that something worse than petty criminality is occurring in the slum: that foreign subversives are at work there, with catastrophic designs on Britain herself. Blackmailed into helping the investigation, can Williamson manage to save his friend from certain death – and survive himself, in a world that condemns him for his sexuality?

My Review:

This is a brilliant read; a fascinating story tale of mystery in the slums of Victorian London.  And the research done by Tom Williams into the social, business, industrial changes of this era and the study of the environment of both city and countryside is both obvious and admirable

 As this is the third of John Williamson’s story and, as I have yet to read the first two books, I appreciated the explanatory Foreword; a very useful summary for the reader a good account of the protagonist’s previous life and background that immediately brings the character to life. It made it easier for me to begin to understand his motivations and decisions.

 Told in the first person point of view of the protagonist this is a man who has lived for many years in different countries and, although now rich and respected, his return to Britain becomes fraught with many dangers.

 The dialogue, especially the internal dialogue of John Williamson is excellent. Although, in many circumstances, ‘showing’ any action, detailing parts of a story, is a preferable way of writing, in this novel the ‘telling ‘ is essential and adds to rounding out the character. And the dialogue and language of the other characters give a real flavour of the era and their status in society.

 The sense of place is evoked succinctly through both the words of the protagonist and the descriptions; the atmosphere of despair, the bleakness of the world of these characters, the depths of poverty, conspiracies and lack of morals underpins the whole of the book. There is even an appearance of Karl Marx to add authenticity to the times.

I loved everything about Back Home and have no hesitation in recommending this book.

Buying Links:

 Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1qFA3Xw

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1Vg0kbG