Title – The Black Lions of Flanders (King’s Germans Book 1)
Author – Dominic Fielder
Genre – Historical Fiction
In the war of the First Coalition, friend and foe know one simple truth: trust your ally at your own peril.
Private Sebastian Krombach has joined the army to escape the boredom of life in his father’s fishing fleet. Captain Werner Brandt yearns to leave his post and retire into civilised society and Lieutenant Erich von Bomm wants nothing more than to survive his latest escapade that has provoked yet another duel. Each man is a King’s German; when they are called to war, their lives will become inextricably linked.
The redcoats of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Regiment, must survive the divisions that sweep through their ranks before they are tested in combat. On the border of France, the King’s Germans will face an enemy desperate to keep the Revolution alive: the Black Lions of Flanders.
Rumes: 1st May 1793
In grim humour, von Bomm’s soldiers had christened the houses in which they would make their stand. The house nearest the road became ‘Apple House’ with its beautiful shades of garden blooms. ‘Hell’s Corner’ was the most exposed of the three houses and a delaying action at best when the enemy made to outflank the redcoats. ‘Broken Tail’, the middle of the three, was the position which von Bomm hoped he could somehow stall the enemy advance. The redcoats had christened the house because of the frightened young puppy that the grenadiers had found hiding in one of the rooms there. Soldiers took respite from the tension by playing with the small dog who had nipped at a few fingers before settling on a thin strip of beef that a grenadier had spared from his rations.
After twenty minutes of the battle restarting, Hell’s Corner had fallen and a brief lull had descended while the enemy organised for the next attack. A dozen wounded men had been rescued and ferried to a patch of garden in the rear of Apple House, now a make-shift medical post. The oblong of garden, a dozen yards by ten, was flanked on either side by a wall of thick blackthorn bushes, a sea of delicate white spring blooms and stiff, spiny branches. To its rear ran a long, low wall of old brickwork, against which a large pile of compost rotted. A pair of apple trees bloomed within its boundary and under the pink blossom of one of these, Fourth Company’s doctor fished with a bullet probe, long-necked scissors with flattened tweezers at their tip, for a spent musket ball which lodged rather doggedly in the right shoulder of a grenadier.
A table had been rescued from the barricade and as metal scraped against bone, then found the object of the search, silent tears rolled down the face of the grenadier who bore down on the table with grim determination. Scissors were withdrawn and a blackened musket round, covered in a claret sheen, was discarded unto lush green grass. Dark blood oozed over the Doctor’s nimble fingers; he wrenched free the soldier’s grip from the table edge and ordered his patient to place his left hand over the wound, where a torn patch of bedding had been placed.
By the foot of one of the apple trees, a stricken soldier laid deathly pale, his left leg now nothing more than a stump below the knee. The doctor cast an anxious look in the direction of the newly crippled boy then returned to the task of threading a needle with catgut. This done, he moved the redcoat’s hand and the swab of bloodied material which had been held in place, pinched together the skin around the wound and began to suture it closed. From the other side of the hedge came the percussive boom of the Grenadier battalion’s canon. Win or lose, the doctor knew his day would be busy.
Dominic Fielder’s debut novel The Black Lion of Flanders (The King’s Germans Book #1) is a historical triumph. The storytelling is vivid, violent, and victorious. Fielder has brought this era back to life in his masterfully written and vastly entertaining tale.
Like a master puppeteer, Fielder has a firm control of a large cast of characters. Drawing inspiration from complicated historical figures, and, up until then, one of the most turbulent times in French history, Fielder has taken the somewhat ambitious decision to describe both sides of the war. This was a risk, for sometimes the constant chopping and changing of sides can confuse the reader, but Fielder pulled this off wonderfully. Helped, without a doubt, by some very memorable characters such as the Dragoon Captain, Beauvais and the beautiful, yet resourceful, Countess of Marboré.
Fielder has an excellent eye for human detail — nothing is beyond the telling. His portrayal of the harshness of a soldier’s life spares no detail, nor does he spare his readers from the driving ambition of historical figures such as Charles François Dumouriez.
There is also a richness in the descriptive text. Fielder describes this troubled time with great respect to the history but also with a wonderful insight of his readers.
The Black Lion of Flanders (The King’s Germans Book #1) is very much a story where everything seems to be balancing on the blade of a bayonet. I sympathised with many of the characters, and I despised a few. But more importantly, I was swept along in a story that was so utterly compelling from start to finish that time simply flew by as I lost myself within the pages of this remarkable book.
Reading this book was like taking a step back in time, and as a bystander I watched this story unfold. Together with the political intrigue, the soldiers unrest and resentment, the poor preparations of the British Army, as well as the complicated alliances, this story is a must read for those interested in this era of history.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
99 c/p at Amazon US and Amazon UK!
Dominic Fielder (1968-present) was born in Plymouth to parents of families from Roman Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. Then such things mattered to others but not to a first-born son who knew only love and a stable happy family. Two brothers made for a warm and somewhat idyllic childhood. He was bright but a disengaged student preferring instead to spend time with his dad at the family book business (the Bookstall) where a love of literacy flourished. Having finished sixth-form at Devonport High School for Boys, he passed opportunities to join first, the Tank Regiment, then the Royal Air Force, settling instead on a career in banking. Three years later, fed up with counting other people’s money, he travelled to Australia for a year, working for a time in the Outback and thoroughly enjoying life!
On returning to the UK, he drifted into work at his family’s Comic Shop (Kathies Comics). Despite fifteen years of hard work, the business failed and so did his marriage. Working a series of odd jobs, with odd hours, he finished a degree course in History, gaining a First and drifted into the world of education. Now he divides his time unequally between private tuition, running the family book business which has survived for sixty years and writing. More important than all of these, is spending time with his son. With what free time he has, he enjoys cycling, walking and horse-riding on the moors that surround his home in Mary Tavy, Devon.
His passion and interest for as many years as he can care to remember has been ‘little model soldiers’, painting them, researching facts about the regiments and playing wargames with them. For a dozen years or more, Dominic ran a series of ‘Megagames’ where people would arrive from all corners of the globe to game out World War Two scenarios for a week. Such events needed a strong narrative and his first attempts at writing were contained within the pre-game intelligence and the post-action reports. His writing project, ‘The King’s Germans’ is a few steps further down that road. For the person who drifted from one task to another, it’s a commitment to write twenty-two years of the history of Hanoverian soldiers in the service of King George III.
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