`Copperhead' is the second in the `Starbuck Chronicles' and it provides the reader with all we have to come to expect from author Bernard Cornwell. If you know Cornwell's writing, this novel will not disappoint, similarly if you have never heard of the name, I would encourage you make his acquaintance.
During the Civil War a Copperhead was generally held to be a Northerner who sympathised with the Southern cause. Within the pages of this book, although he is the son of a Boston abolitionist minister, Nathaniel Starbuck fights for the South. If you know your Civil War history - and that is no way a requirement for this novel - the action depicted within the pages of `Copperhead' takes us from Ball's Bluff near Leesburg in Virginia to Gaines Mill close to Richmond. However, the main part of the novel takes Starbuck away from the battlefield and into the arena of espionage and deceit. The book also gives us an insight into the insecurities of the Northern generals, in particular McClellan and his `spymaster' Allan Pinkerton.
There is no doubt that in Nate Starbuck, Cornwell attempts to create the heroics of Richard Sharpe (for those who don't know, Cornwell has written a whole clutch of novels about English rifleman Richard Sharpe who served both in India and the Napoleonic Wars). To some extend he has succeeded in this, although at times `Copperhead' lacks the pace of some of the Sharpe novels. Nevertheless, I enjoyed `Copperhead', it is in the main well written and informative and is without a doubt an entertaining read.
As a point of interest, although I'd recommend the reader to work his/her way through the series in order, it is not vital that you do this as each novel is self-contained.