It is 1853, and on holiday in Italy, Captain Nicholas Carey is persuaded by his impulsive cousin Andrew to help three Italian revolutionaries avoid capture and escape the Papal States. After returning to England, Nicholas runs his cousin to earth in Paris, where he is still involved with the revolutionaries, and the two foil an assassination attempt on the Emperor, Napoleon III.
Rejoining his regiment, Nicholas is sent to fight the Russians with Lord Raglan’s army in the Crimea, where he experiences the horrors of a Crimean winter and distinguishes himself in the Battles of Sebastopol and The Redan.
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.
‘I was immediately intrigued . . .’
‘The other week, a surprise parcel turned up in the mail for me. Inside was a beautiful, clothbound new edition of a never-before-published Ronald Welch book, The Road to Waterloo . . .’Read more
‘Your set was magnificent . . .’
'Dear SF, I’m delighted that you are publishing Sun of York as a complement to the original Ronald Welch Carey Novels! I loved these books as a child and now my 11 year old daughter has read them...Read more
‘I was pleased and amazed . . .’
‘I was pleased and amazed to see you are publishing the Ronald Welch books. As a child I adored them and they infused in me a great love of history . . . Over the years I have collected most of his...Read more
Joining the Grown-ups
Revisiting the Carey novels today, I am struck by how fresh and magnetizing they have remained, and by how much there is in these books – as there is in all good children’s literature – that...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
1853, Italy. Nicholas Carey, a young army captain, is more interested in wine, good food and landscape painting than his career. So he’s thoroughly annoyed when he’s dragged by his madcap cousin Andrew into helping Italian patriots fighting for freedom.
1854, Paris. Louis Napoleon is on the throne and, once again, Andrew is in cahoots with the same Italian assassins. Nick, who only wants a quiet life, is pulled into danger. Only his quick-wittedness saves both of them – and the emperor – from an ugly death.
1855, Crimea. Here, Nick faces a much greater challenge. The British army is a shambles; there is food, army tents, ammunition – but no way of getting them from the port to the army. Disease if rife and the Russian winter approaches. Nick’s company comprises eighty men and, gradually, as he begins to shoulder his responsibilities, he discovers a pride in his men that he hasn’t known before.
What Welch is particularly good at is depicting the realities of warfare. The sights, sounds and smells of being involved in a battle come across vividly and with all the force of actual experience. The men are filthy, wet, terrified and the wounds aren’t just decorative; they can spill guts and splinter bones. Nick must learn how to work the system in order to get his men cooking stoves, and sheepskins to keep warm, and to push officialdom into doing something about the appalling hospital ships.
Nicholas Carey is admirably served by William Stobbs’ essential map of pre-unification Italy, showing clearly how Italy was divided at the time; and his map of the Crimea illuminates important topographic details. I enjoyed this book. As well as being full of excitement, it is also a coming of age story which gives it added depth. Aimed at readers of ten plus.