The Ties of Blood series follows the adventures of a colourful cast of characters, real and imagined, through the gripping drama of the Peninsular War – featuring sieges and battles, love and death, honour and betrayal – a drama which takes its final curtain some seven years later, on the bloody fields of Waterloo. The stories offer a winning blend of adventure and Georgian social history.
The novels of the River Trilogy are set in early Victorian times and shine a light on this fascinating era through the experiences of a group of young friends entering adulthood together. Theirs is a new landscape of artistic and scientific wonders, challenging ideas, warfare and hardship. Going out into the world from their comfortable homes, many of these individuals discover a harsher reality, as each struggles to make their mark on Victorian society.
Ties of Blood
Alone With Glory (1)
1808: Napoleon commands mainland Europe. He is in the process of conquering Spain and Portugal, a final piece in the jigsaw. The British send help. Confronted by the threat of Bonaparte himself, backed by a huge army of veterans, Sir John Moore bravely decides to head into Spain and face the French.
Two of Moore’s officers on this campaign are the half-brothers Tom Herryck and Robert Blunt – the one a Royal Engineer, the other an experienced light infantry officer. Different kinds of men, but fiercely loyal to the army and to one another, these two become caught up in the gripping events that lead to the excitement – and tragedy – of Corunna.
The Colour of Blood (2)
Despite Sir John Moore’s gallant victory at Corunna, the British have been thrown out of Spain and taken away in the Royal Navy’s ships. But the British decide to have one more try: they send a new army to the Peninsula, under the command of the promising young general, Sir Arthur Wellesley.
Tom Herryck, the heroic young engineer who acted so bravely on the retreat to Corunna, is kicking his heels back in England. His half-brother Robert Blunt is training Portuguese soldiers. What part will they be destined to play, as Wellington sets off on his mission to root the French out?
A Different Kind of War (3)
1810 and the British have retreated to Portugal. Support for the war at home is luke-warm and the Portuguese and Spanish too doubt their allies’ will to face the enemy. Tom Herryck is working on a top secret engineering project, while Robert Blunt prepares his regiment to face the French. Isobel Truelove is once again caught up in perilous acts of espionage while her cousin Rico continues to fight his one-man war against the invaders.
But Napoleon has sent thousands of fresh troops with orders to sweep the British into the sea. Can the allies manage to hold on to Portugal or will the odds count in favour of the French at last? The rules of was dictate that the British must lose – but the rules are about to change.
The Hardest Fight (4)
Lord Wellington’s redcoat army is still in the Peninsula, doggedly clinging to its hopes of keeping the French from adding Portugal to the Empire. The enemy is in for a shock, for Wellington had ordered the building of a formidable string of fortifications defending Lisbon.
Eventually hunger and disease force the dispirited French to retreat. The redcoats give chase. But not everyone is able to enjoy these improved fortunes for the allies: Tom Herryck is in disgrace. Robert Blunt is parted from his regiment and ace sharpshooter Ned Truelove is threatened with being removed from his riflemen friends.
Can Lord Wellington afford to be without such useful individuals when his hard-pressed armies face a rapid succession of skirmishes, sieges and full-blooded battles?
The Blast of War (5)
The war in Europe is about to enter its defining phase. In the Peninsula, the year has brought significant victories, but Wellington has failed to take the key border fortresses. Luckily he has an army that is as gritty and bloody-minded as any the world has yet seen. The redcoats are determined to see the French beaten – and they have the valuable assistance of the new Portuguese army and the formidable Spanish guerrilleros.
Wellington can also call on steadfast generals and brilliant staff officers – as well as enterprising individuals who spy for him, lead daring raids, conduct sieges and blow up inconvenient obstacles. If the allies lack the manpower of the French, they can make up for it with the skill and finesse of their professionals.
Even to the Knife (6)
1812: dramatic events in Russia have altered the dynamic of Napoleon’s war. But not everything is going well for Lord Wellington in the Peninsula. Once again the British find themselves pushed across the Portuguese border. But Wellington is determined that his army will cross back into Spain – and beyond.
To have any chance of succeeding in his ambition, Lord Wellington must rely on men like the half-brothers Tom Herryck and Robert Blunt and their friends to do the work of confounding the enemy. The French can still call on the greatest army the world has ever seen – but will that be enough?
The Other Side of the Hill (7)
The brilliant summer offensive of 1813 has seen Wellington frequently outflanking the enemy armies, finally bringing them to a battle which saw King Joseph lose his artillery, his baggage and his crown. Threatened with the ignominy of invasion, the French make a remarkable recovery and bite back.
Among the sieges, battles and skirmishes there are many displays of individual skill and bravery – there is even time for romance and intrigue. The soldiers in red, green, blue and brown coats have made it all the way to the French border – but when might they see the other side of the hill?
The Dawn's Early Light (8)
The Peninsular War has come to an end. Now officers worry about half-pay and a lack of opportunities for advancement. Ordinary soldiers ask themselves where their next posting might be? For some, thoughts turn to home and family, long neglected in the interests of duty.
But Britain is still at war. Since 1812 a small redcoat army has been attempting to thwart the United States’ ambition to take Canada; the ships of the Royal Navy have been duelling with the Americans’ heavy frigates and privateers. With the fighting at an end in Europe, the British turn their eyes across the Atlantic.
A Battle Lost and Won (9)
The long years of war in Europe seems to have come to an end with the banishment of the Emperor Napoleon. Peace has descended on the continent and its nations have settled to reconciling their differences over the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield. Europe’s major cities quickly became playgrounds for the fashionable set.
But the peace is short-lived. Napoleon wearies of his exile. He believes that his destiny was to rule Europe, not a small island. In the spring of 1815 he is back in Paris and there is little doubt that the continent would once again be plunged into war.There will be one last battle – and few involved will escape its bitter sting.
Take, Burn or Destroy (10)
By 1805, the Emperor Napoleon is coming to the peak of his powers. But in London King George’s government remains committed to blocking his ambitions. The navy retains command of the seas and British gold buys alliances with foreign powers. Every effort is made to thwart the French.
The army does what it can to support the work of the treasury and the navy. The generals are not content that their men stay idle in home garrisons – they want to hit the enemy where and when they can. If the navy can put a force ashore, the soldiers will do everything in their power to bring confusion to the French!
This Ties of Blood prequel is set on three continents and offers the usual winning blend of solid historical fact and fast-paced adventure fiction.
A Dozen Bakers (11)
The leading Ties of Blood players are rounded characters, often with interesting pasts, not always thoroughly explored in the novels. The thirteen tales in this collection of short stories go some way to adding mortar to the strong stone-work of the series, involving key individuals in a number of dramatic encounters.
The book covers a lot of ground. The action takes place over a thirty-year period and is located in half a dozen European countries. The sequence looks at the back-stories of a number of the characters readers have come to know through the novels, but each tale stands up as a self-contained story.
The River Trilogy
The early Victorian period was a time of great change in England. The coming of the Industrial Revolution meant that, for many, life moved far more quickly than in earlier days. The railway, steamships and improved roads saw everything, even news itself, delivered more rapidly than ever before.
The way people thought was changing too, better information allowing many to question long-established values. Great Britain had a growing empire and enjoyed the biggest share of the world’s trade. But not everybody benefited from the country’s prosperity. This was not only the time of The Great Exhibition, showcasing British power and expertise, but also an epoch of famine, poverty and disease.
In the late 1850s, Great Britain is fast developing as an industrial power and flexing her international muscle. The growing empire finds itself confronting challenges in India, the Far East and elsewhere. In the United States, frequently at odds with London, the increasing domestic tension between North and South threatens to explode into open conflict.
At home, it is a time of opportunity. Fortunes are being made, relationships established, reputations won and lost. Among the young friends we see making their way, there is a driving hunger for success. Love, wealth, social advancement and creative talent variously colour their hopes. The story explores universal themes of love and death, passion and loyalty, guilt and betrayal.
This story covers the eventful years 1861 – 65. As well as concerning themselves with affairs at home in England, there was a keen interest in what was taking place across the Atlantic, where America was at war with itself. The close links between the two countries made it impossible to ignore the battle between North and South
As the tale unfolds, we meet some of the great figures of the day, at home and abroad. Important issues are confronted, not least war, poverty and slavery. All the while, the central characters are struggling to deal with every manner of personal challenge: love, loneliness, duty and loyalty ranking high among them.