Category: PRESENTATIONS


Advertisements

Introduction
I have chosen to read and to talk about “The Fields of Death” by Simon Scarrow. It’s a historical novel. I had finished another book shortly before, its title is “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger. It’s about a boy’s thinking and contradictions. A modern classic that has a very colloquial English. I’m sure you know that. I like it very much, but, being in the Casa del Llibre I saw Scarrow’s work. I glanced through it and I liked it. It tells about Napoleonic Wars. To be more specific, it tells about two great and real characters of this period: Wellington and Napoleon. Since 1809 to 1815, the author relates to us the main events, battles and two generals’ difficult decisions until the end in the battle of Waterloo. During the novel, you can discover a background of personal rivalry between those great historical figures. The promised outcome of this adventure, well drawn by Scarrow, is a double story line which is in a crescendo until, as I said before, Wellington’s victory. This book is the fourth of a series of books on Wellington’s and Napoleon’s lives.

Characters and plot

Napoleon is at the peek of his power in 1809. He is the most powerful  He has again defeated the Austrians at the battle of Wagram and he has occupied Vienna. Nobody resists his army and French military superiority. Only the British, Portuguese and Spanish disturb his control figthing against his army. They are lead by Arthur Wellesly, Duke of Wellington. In spite of that, Europe hates this situation and, when the rest of European kings and emperors can, they attack Napoleon. He sometimes trusts too much in his own skills, in fact he tries to conquer Russia and fails. It is his main mistake. Since that defeat, his opponents start preparing the final assault which will lead to Napoleon’s first end, the battle of Leipzig, and, later, to his second and decisive end in the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

On the other hand we find Wellington. From his base in Portugal, this general, with his allies Portuguese and Spanish, defeats different times the French army but he has to withdraw twice because of French counter-offensives. In the end, he wins a Battle in Vitoria, in 1813, and enters France until Napoleon’s surrender. Wellington fights against Bonaparte directly. This time, in Waterloo, in 1815, Napoleon fails in his last attempt to beat his enemies. A author’s note in the book reminds us that Napoleon died in exile, in Saint Elena, in 1821, maybe poisoned. As for Wellington, he dies in 1852 after a long a successful political career.

Personal opinion
I like this book. The writer manages to capture your attention involving you in the atmosphere of the novel. He uses a lot of military vocabulary and you have to look up lots of words. But, on the contrary, the rhythm that he stamps in his work, the details of struggles or the interest of the account  is good. The problem is that the author focuses his efforts on describing struggles, manoeuvres or strategic considerations which means repeating the same sentences or writing about parts of a battle very similar to others. In spite of that, there are very relevant parts such as the withdrawal from Russia or Napoleon’s generals’ betrayal. The main characters, that is to say, Wellington and Bonaparte are interesting, however they a little stereotyped. You can read some things about their privacy –how Napoleon obliges his wife, Josephine, to divorce him.