‘Blindheim, or Blenheim, or something like that . . .’
It is August 1704 and the Duke of Marlborough is leading an allied army through the Low Countries to challenge the Catholic Louis XIV of France, who has his eye on the Spanish throne. Charles Carey is a Captain in the Duke’s army, a moody, quick-tempered and charismatic figure who is also one of its most brilliant swordsmen – a skill he uses to great effect.
But swordsmanship is not Charles’s only talent. Having discovered that there is a traitor in the camp he is sent by his Colonel to spy in France, travelling under a false identity. His mission takes him to the Old Pretender’s dreary court at Saint-Germain, to Louis XIV’s court at Versailles – which he finds surprisingly grubby and unattractive, despite its superficial grandeur – and finally to imprisonment in the Bastille, from which he manages to escape, in time to take part in Marlborough’s march to the Danube and his decisive victory at the Battle of Blenheim on this very day (13 August) three hundred and fourteen years ago.
Do read on for an introduction to Ronald Welch’s Captain of Dragoons, a wonderfully atmospheric and fast-moving book set during the early years of the War of the Spanish Succession, by our dear – now sadly departed – friend, reader and regular contributor Jeremy Lewis.
With best wishes from the SF office staff,
Jennie, Anna, Olivia, and Hattie