Young Christopher Carey is not afraid of fighting, but he hates the discomforts of military life – the cold and the rain, the heat and the dust, the uncomfortable bivouacs, the poor food and the long marches. So he’s a rather reluctant hero. But breeding will out.
The latest in a long line of distinguished fighting ancestors, Christopher in fact is a very good soldier, commanding tremendous loyalty from his men, whether the company is launching an attack against the French, protecting the straggling lines of the retreating English army, or defending a strategic position. Christopher’s qualities don’t go unnoticed and he’s chosen for a dangerous mission to a leader of the Spanish guerrillas, the colourful El Empecinado. As ever Ronald Welch skilfully weaves together fiction and fact to create a brilliant picture of the Napoleonic Wars in Spain, and the dangers and monotonies of an infantryman’s life in Wellington’s army.
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.
A Reluctant Hero
What would you do if you were a soldier, the last in a long line of fighting ancestors who had all distinguished themselves in battle, but you really hated going to war and wanted to give it all up...Read more
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...Read more