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Captain of Dragoons
Set of Ronald Welch Novels - Slightly Foxed Cubs
The Carey Novels by Ronald Welch Timeline
  • ISBN: 9781906562717
  • Pages: 224
  • Dimensions: 220 x 155mm
  • Illustrations: William Stobbs
  • Publication date: 1 March 2015
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Age: 8+
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Binding: Cloth hardback
  • Trimmings: Illustrated endpapers; colour blocking to spine and front
  • NB: Hand-numbered, limited edition of 2,000 copies
Made in Britain

Captain of Dragoons

The Carey Novels

Ronald Welch

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Captain of Dragoons is a thrilling story set in the reign of Queen Anne during the early years of the War of the Spanish Succession. 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. A wonderfully atmospheric and fast-moving book with a shocking and unexpected dénouement.

About Ronald Welch and the Carey Novels

Ronald Welch’s Carey novels, written between 1954 and 1972, follow the fortunes of the same family from their involvement in the Crusades to their service in the First World War. Grippingly plotted and scrupulously researched, together they join up the dots of English history in a remarkably vivid and human way.

Welch was a historian who served as a Tank Corps officer in the Second World War and in 1947 became Headmaster of Okehampton Grammar School in Devon. He was, by all accounts, an inspiring teacher, and he certainly knew how to bring history alive for younger readers. You can’t finish a Welch book without having grasped such precise details as the construction of a crusader’s armour and why it was so designed, or why the longbow was crucial to the English victory at the Battle of Crécy. Most importantly they’re brilliant reads – fast-paced, colourful and imaginative, with entirely believable central characters. The Careys are a distinguished Welsh landowning family and are involved in all the great events of their times, from the plots against Elizabeth I and the Civil War to the Peninsular War, the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny.

The original editions, published by Oxford University Press and illustrated by some of the best book illustrators of their day, are now almost impossible to find and fetch prohibitive prices. We’re delighted to make these wonderful books available again, with their original illustrations, in an elegantly designed and highly collectable series.

‘Ronald Welch at his best. The story has it all, and it plunges immediately into action, danger, and nail-biting suspense, leading to a shocking and unforeseen twist at the end.’ Historical Novel Society

Marching with Marlborough

Published in 1956, Captain of Dragoons is set in the reign of Queen Anne, during the early years of the War of the Spanish Succession, and the relevant member of the family is Charles Carey, ‘a...

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Wolf Hall for kids: Why Ronald Welch’s novels will help your children fall in love with history

Ronald Welch, a tank commander turned schoolmaster, is one of the 20th century’s most underrated children’s writers. Like Hilary Mantel, he understood that what makes a lost epoch stick in your...

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Comments & Reviews

  1. 1704. The expansionist designs of Louis XIV of France, who has his eye on the Spanish Netherlands, threatens European stability. The British army under the Duke of Marlborough is en route to link up with Prince Eugene of Savoy and his German allies in a bid to halt Louis’s army.

    With Marlborough is young Charles Carey, Captain of Dragoons. Charles is moody and hot-tempered, but he is also intelligent, a master swordsman, and speaks fluent French. When suspicions are raised that someone is sending vital information to the enemy, Charles is sent to France to find the spy and put a stop to his activities.

    Meanwhile, Marlborough’s army is marching towards the Danube and a final reckoning with the French army at Blenheim. But has Charles managed to prevent the French getting hold of Marlborough’s plan of battle?

    Captain of Dragoons is Ronald Welch as his best. The story has it all, and it plunges immediately into action, danger, and nail-biting suspense, leading to a shocking and unforeseen twist at the end when Charles finally unmasks the spy.

    I enjoyed this book, not least for the way Welch brings the now little-known War of the Spanish Succession to life and makes it clear what’s at stake. Spain ruled the Spanish Netherlands and when the Spanish king died childless, Louis XIV of France claimed the throne for his grandson, Philip. It was vital for British interests that he be stopped. A British victory would also impact on the hopes of the exiled James III, now living in Paris, of regaining the English throne.

    This is a story of a young man’s coming of age as well as a thrilling adventure, as Charles learns to control his temper and becomes more understanding. Boys (and girls) who like adventure will enjoy this book.

  2. Peter says:

    This is very exciting! Ronald Welch’s Captain of Foot and Captain of Dragoons were two of the most formative books of my late childhood. This probably means most formative full stop. I shall never forget William Stobbs’ illustrations either – all those angular, bony, rather gaunt faced figures. How wonderful you people are.

  3. P. Hardingham says:

    May I say how delighted I was to find, by chance, your website and that you are publishing Mr Welch’s Carey novels. As a boy, I read and much enjoyed Captain of Dragoons; it must have been shortly after it was first published in 1954, so over sixty years ago. About twenty or twenty-five years ago, if not more, I had a fancy to read it again. I spent years searching for a copy, before access to the web, and when I had access to the web, trying to find a reasonably priced copy. Eventually, a couple of years ago, I found an affordable Penguin copy, which I bought and enjoyed. I then spotted copies of Captain of Foot, but all expensive. Last night, seated at the computer, rather idly, I put the title into Google and behold up came your website – I promptly ordered a copy! This morning, I decided that I would also treat myself to a nice hardback copy of Captain of Dragoons to replace my Penguin copy and have just placed an order for it. I wish you every success – keep up the good work! Best wishes.

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