Thursday, November 15, 2012

The New Breed of British WW2 Fiction

As I begin work on the second novel in the COMMANDO series, I want to share with readers all the great World War Two fiction that's being written these days. People have been writing fiction set around the war since, well, since the war itself. But in the last few years, it seems like there's been a resurgence in WW2 fiction being written in the UK. I hope to touch on these books in more detail in subsequent posts, but here's a quick roundup...

James Holland

James is, like several of the authors in this post, a historian with a number of non-fiction titles under his belt. Starting with his Jack Tanner series, he branched out into fiction, starting with The Odin Mission, which deals with the British taking on the Germans in Norway. There are two other books in this series, but unfortunately none of them are available in the States as Kindle books. I bought my copy of Odin on Amazon as a used book - oddly enough, a large print hardcover for just a couple of bucks. James has a second series, Duty Calls, which is published through Puffin and is intended to be a "Young Adult" series. I've read the first title, Dunkirk, and I'm a quarter of the way through book 2, Battle of Britain. Although marketed as YA, these two books are certainly not "children's books" and perfectly enjoyable and entertaining to older readers. There's plenty of action, some of it pretty intense, and the books move along at a nice, fast clip. Both of these titles are available as ebooks in the US.

Max Adams

Max appears to be a newcomer to the field of WW2 fiction. He is an ex-Naval officer with a background in special operations. His two novels so far deal with a British soldier who used to be civil engineer, which means - for the purposes of the novels - he has some understanding of how to blow things up, and an above-average education. Eddie Dawson, the character the series is named after, is something of a British MacGuyver, able to build or tweak things, or find an unorthodox use for them (in To Do or Die, the first book, he uses German land mines as improvised grenades). I've read the first book in the series, but I'm wavering on the second; the one review the book has on Amazon says that Adams essentially reuses the plot of the first book in a different set of circumstances. I may get around to it, but I'm going to work on some of these other books first.

Iain Gale

Iain is another historian-turned-novelist. He has a British early 18th century war series, and he's now two books into his WW2 series, following a Territorial unit known as the North Kents, nicknamed "the Black Jackals". I've noticed a common theme in many of these books is the BEF's defeat and the retreat to Dunkirk, and his first book, The Black Jackals is no exception. Lieutenant Peter Lamb must lead the remnants of his platoon from the front lines back through France, getting into all sorts of misadventures along the way. The story is very Odyssey-like in that Lamb and his men keep getting side-tracked into battles or other assignments by whatever superior officer they run into, which I found could be a little wearisome at times.  Still, I'm looking forward to reading his second book, Jackal's Revenge, as it takes place in Greece and deals with partisan warfare.

Michael Asher

Michael is a travel writer with extensive experience in the desert. He's also a former British paratrooper and served with the SAS. He has several other non-fiction books out, but has become a novelist with his Death or Glory series. The first book, The Last Commando takes place in North Africa, and has some decent reviews. Interestingly, several of the reviewers liken this book, and especially the cover, to the Commando Comics that were published for ages in the UK (a post for another day). Like a number of these British authors, their works aren't available in Kindle form in the States yet, so Michael will have to sit on the back burner for a little while until I get around to buying in paperback or the Kindle version is available in the states.

Well, that's it for now. There are many more books I could include here, and I'll have to do a Part 2 to this roundup soon.

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