‘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
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.