My studies both of classics and of the more modern history of the world shows that power inevitably corrupts. – Nicholas Ballantyne in Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherford
Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherford is a treat for the fans of historical fiction genre. Published by Hachette India the book is 429 pages long. And this is my maiden book review for Hachette India.
The novel is partly nonfiction. It follows the life of Nicholas Ballantyne who happens to be one among the many Britishers to have landed in India in hopes of making a fortune for himself. He along with a few others like “Robert Clive” travel to India and together these two best friends create history.
I mean to grab every opportunity to make my name and fortune. If the chances don’t come quickly enough, I’ll engineer them.” – Robert Clive in Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherfordtherford
Based mostly in Madras and Bengal, the novel renarrates for us the fall of two Nawabs – The Nawab or Carnatic and the Nawab of Bengal (or rather the rise of British empire in India). The story of the fall of these two dynasties has been narrated in the juicest manner. There wasn’t lack of action or drama throughout this book. The elements of suspense, romance, humour, thriller were peppered ratherly sufficiently. And I felt that though episodic the lives of Nicholas and Clive are presented wholly throughout the novel. The writing of the author is such that it will effortlessly get you involved. Especially, the details pertaining to wars and the action, described by the author makes the picture come alive for the readers.
All the while you are reading the novel you would presume that it’s life of Ballantyne that you see but here the author is focusing on Robert Clive’s rise during Moghul period; Ballantyne being just the narrator. Robert Clive or “Clive Of India” as he was fondly known, was the key figure in creating what later became British India. To bring such a magnanimous character to life must have been a daunting task however the author seems to have the knack of doing so with much aplomb.
Come to think of it, Alex Rutherford is a pseudonym of a writer couple, Michael and Diana Preston. When two writers come together there are chances of glitches appearing in the written word. However, there was enough sanity and harmony throughout this novel which is commendable! The fact that The Empire Of The Moghul Series, by the writer couple, Alex Rutherford, is accepted, admired and lauded worldwide makes this installment in the series yet another feather in the cap for the authors.
The sad truth is that death is a commonplace here – it often comes quickly, without warning. You get used to the transitory nature of existence because you must. You grow accustomed to looking forward, not backwards. God knows I’ve lost count of the funerals I’ve attended these past twenty years. The only advice I have is carpe diem – enjoy your life while you can. – Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherford
It took me approximately 20 days to wrap up this novel and the episodes at times did feel heavy and I was weighed down by uncanny emotions. But I fell in love with the way author has rounded the life of a brave conquistador – it’s easy and it’s subtle and yet overpowering at times. My rating could have been 4 stars had the author and/or editor cut down on some unnecessary details which sort of make this book an overwhelming read.
Overall, I think if you want a leisure read packed with action and fiction or if you love reading historical fiction, then this is, hands down, a perfect read!
Publishers: Hachette India
Available: Amazon, Flipkart, In-store