Gerald Sinstadt's Reviews > Rebellion

Rebellion by James McGee
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Mar 18, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction-general
Read from March 12 to 16, 2011

As a swashbuckling spy-cum-adventurer tale, Rebellion probably works well enough at a not too demanding level. For originality of plot and command of language, the discerning reader may feel inclined to look elsewhere - perhaps to George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books or Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series.

Rebellion features Matthew Hawkwood, hero of James McGee’s earlier novels. Now he is sent under cover to France where he must work with a clandestine British agent to overthrow Napoleon. Alexandre Dumas, for all his wordiness, would have given the tale more edge, more flair, and - dare one say - more plausibility.

More pace, too. The unnecessarily elongated set-up, during which the reader is given little hint of Hawkwood’s ultimate task, takes nearly a third of the book. Not for the first time, one sadly suspects that publishers need five hundred pages in order to announce another blockbuster.

My advance copy was produced from the unedited typescript. No doubt the final printed book will have corrected such surprising errors as ‘spys’ and ‘jist’. But lapses into sub-Mills and Boon banality (“... Hawkwood found his attention drawn to a pair of cornflower blue eyes set above a pert nose, framed in an oval face ...”) may be beyond rescue.
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