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Sunday 23 October 2022
TALES OF EMPIRE by Tom William, Antoine Vanner, Jacqueline Reiter and Penny Hampson
In a Nutshell: 4 long-short stories set in the 19th Century.
What a gem this book is! Four long-short stories set during the age of the British Empire, and every one a winner. Brittannia's Chase by Antoine Vanner is a short story from the author's Dawlish Chronicles series, in which a young naval officer's vessel crosses paths with a slaver ship. A Clean Sweep by Penny Hampson focuses on an unscrupulous fellow who sends little boys up chimneys, and Tom Williams' The Tiger Hunt is an exciting side story from Tom's The White Rajah, and features John Williamson and James Brooke once more (The White Rajah is excellent too, incidentally!).
If I had to choose a favourite it would be Jacqueline Reiter's The Arabian, set in Gibraltar, from the point of view of an aide to the 2nd Earl of Chatham, John Pitt (I liked it so much I bought Ms Reiter's novel about Pitt, The Late Lord), though there's not much to choose between them, as they're all beautifully written, thoroughly enjoyable and perfectly illustrate the attitudes and social limitations of the time. Before each story is an introduction with background about how it came into being, which makes the collection feel rounded and complete - and there's a little something extra at the end. The book is a nice length - you could read them all in, say, one afternoon.
Tom Williams is the only one of these authors I have read before; I look forward to reading more from the others, too. This book comes most highly recommended, whether or not you have an interest in this period of history.