Customer Reviews


27 Reviews
5 star:
 (13)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe in the American Civil War?
Cornwell is a gifted writer and story teller. When I first became addicted to the Sharpe books I devoured them at the rate of about one every couple of days. I have just recently begun to read the Starbuck books. (I wish Cornwell could have thought of a better name for the main character. Every time I see the name "Starbuck" I think about Dirk Benedict's...
Published on May 23 1998

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars This work of Cornwell lacks the same quality as Sharpe.
After having read all of Cornwell's Sharpe series including the recent book "Triumph", I was eager to begin the Starbuck series. I was somewhat dissapointed in the story and the main character. Starbuck lacks the conquering hero qualities of Sharpe. Starbuck comes from a good background and becomes corrupted in the novel. What appealed to me about the Sharpe...
Published on July 17 1998 by jorton@lemoorenet.com


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe in the American Civil War?, May 23 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Rebel (Mass Market Paperback)
Cornwell is a gifted writer and story teller. When I first became addicted to the Sharpe books I devoured them at the rate of about one every couple of days. I have just recently begun to read the Starbuck books. (I wish Cornwell could have thought of a better name for the main character. Every time I see the name "Starbuck" I think about Dirk Benedict's character in the old "Battlestar Galactica" television show!).
Although this book was very enjoyable, I am afraid that Starbuck is nothing but Sharpe in the American Civil War. It appears that Sergeant Truslow is the Confederate version of Sergeant Harper. Even the plot appears to some extent to be merely a re-working of "Sharpe's Eagle." Just as Sharpe and Harper killed the obnoxious Lt. Gibbons in battle in "Sharpe's Eagle," so Starbuck kills the obnoxious Captain Ridley during the heat of the First Battle of Bull Run.
Mr. Cornwell's command of 19th century military history is excellent except for one error which irritated me and hindered, to some extent, my enjoyment of the book. At several points in the novel Cornwell refers to General P.G.T. Beauregard's army at Manassas as "The Army of Northern Virginia." In reality, this force was called, at this early point in the war, "The Army of the Potomac," which, of course, later became the name for the principle Union Army in the East. (The Southern forces under the command of General J.E. Johnston which arrived in the nick of time at the Battle of First Bull Run was styled "The Army of the Shenandoah.") The Confederate Army in Virginia is not properly known as the "Army of Northern Virginia" until after Robert E. Lee took command of the force in June, 1862. Mr. Cornwell does not usually make errors of this magnitude in his works, and I wonder if this error was merely an oversight or was it intentional?
In closing, although "Rebel" is not "great literature" by any stretch of the imag! ination, it is great entertainment and, like the Sharpe novels, a painless history lesson.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars CORNWELL FANS, LET'S BE ARROGANT!, July 5 2004
Bernard Cornwell can write a scene of battle better than anyone on this planet. Sharpe, Thomas of Hookton, and Nathanial starbuck have all slugged through horrendous tours of duty and we've all intimately felt it thanks to the "in the trench" writing of Cornwell. Despite some sentiment that Cornwell has developed a recipe for his novels and have unjustly hacked stars from the ranking, they should look at other novelists who have remotely produced a body of quality work such as Cornwell. That being said, Rebel is the first in the great Starbuck Chronicles(Chronicles is to Legion as Series is to Brigade). The quote on my copy says, "The best thing to hit Civil War fiction since Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels." - Washington Post. The Killer Angels is the Gold Standard of Civil War writing. Fairly said, Rebel alone is no Killer Angels, but the series certainly is and Nathanial Starbuck is a character that you want to get to know. As with Sharpe and Thomas (of Hookton), his courage, knowledge, and confidence grow with time and experience and as a reader, you grow with them. For readers who are Civil War reenactors you'll find no "farby" writing here. The Zouaves (between the cracks Federal & Reb uniform nuance) and artillery are represented and for the Rebs in the crowd you'll be happy to see the Tigers at Manassas.
One questions Bernard, "Whatcha got against the horses?" That's the point; Cornwell pulls no punch when the men are at war. I encourage all Cornwell fans to read (ya already have I suppose) - fans of Civil War, Yanks or Rebs and fans of top shelf historical fiction - climb on board this caisson!
Enjoy,
23rdPA "Birney's Zouaves!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest civil war series of all time, and sadly unfinished., June 26 2004
This review is from: Rebel (Mass Market Paperback)
In Bernard Corwell's "Starbuck Chronicles" Cornwell does everything right, succeeding IMO in writing the best historical fiction ever written on the subject of the American Civil War - Yes even better then John Jake's "North and South", or "The Red Badge of Courage"
Cornwell's greatest success probably is his amazing detail and great historical accuracy in desribing the war. What i probably found most impresive was his great detail in desribing battles such as Bull Run and Antietam - every sentence kept me captivated and this detail alone is reason enough for anyone interested in the war to read each and every book in the series cover to cover. You will hard pressed to find anything either fiction or non fiction that does a better job giving you a total mental picture of the battles portrayed in the series (i was especially impressed with the great detail desribing the battle of Antietam)
As with the other historical and political aspects of the civil war Cornwell addresses everything, the struggle of freedom over slavery plays a pivotal role in the series and throughout Cornwell's novels he does a great job of accurately portraying nearly every pivotal political and military figure central to the eastern theater of the civil war.
For those of you woried that the series may be to much history, not enough story put your mind at ease. Not only does Cornwell succeed in writing one of the best accounts of the war ever written he gets an "A" grade when it comes to the story as well.
Cornwell delivers one of the most memorable cast of characters ever. Just to give you a little background, without giving to much away the main character Nathaniel Starbuck (Son of a fictional famous abolitionist) arrives in Richmond, Virginia just as news arrives of the siege of Fort Sumnter. Through a series of events Nathan finds himself fighting for the South out of simple gratitude to the father of his best friend.
While the first book "Rebel" ends after the southern victory at Manassas (Bull Run) the rollercoaster of emotions, fitting the events that surround the characters really comes into being in the following books.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of "Rebel" and read this series - you won't be dissapointed. It isn't often that i read the same book more then once but i've read each book in the series at least several times, they're that good.
I dearly hope that one day Bernard Cornwell will do us the favor of completing this incredible series.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Got here backwards, but had a good time!, Nov. 12 2003
By A Customer
When an established author gives a blurb to another up-and-coming one, no one imagines that the established author will benefit. But here's a case when he did. I've been a fan of James L. Nelson's sea-faring adventures since the beginning of his "Revolution at Sea" series. I snatched up Nelson's latest book, "Glory in the Name," and was not disappointed. The guy just keeps getting better and better. When I was done, I scanned the blurbs on the book and saw that Bernard Cornwell called it the best Civil War novel he'd ever read. I thought, well, if his judgment is that good let's try him out.
Again I was not disappointed. Cornwell's Civil War series is fast and exciting. Some of what the other reviews, here, say are pretty fair. These are full ahead adventures without a lot of heavy characterization. These aren't historical essays disguised as fiction, but really the descendents of the best historical-adventures in pulp fiction of the thirties and forties. I would like to see a Civil War hero from the North someday, but I guess its more interesting for the author to follow the "lost cause" and the underdogs. Of course, with the generalship the North suffered under till Grant came on board, there should be enough suffering and angst for any storyteller. Until then, Bernard Cornwell tells a good tale and writes blurbs for good books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars An Inauspicious Begining, Nov. 9 2002
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
One of my favorite writers of historical fiction kicks off his Civil War series with this remarkably tepid tale. A number of flaws make themselves manifest over the course of the book, the foremost of which is an unlikable hero. Cornwell seems to have decided to take the hero of his wildly successful Napoleonic era series, Richard Sharpe, and make his new hero come from the exact opposite background. Unfortunately, while one is naturally inclined to root for an orphaned, gutter-bred, ill-mannered rogue who rises through the ranks due to sheer merit, one is much less likely to root for the privileged scion of a Boston abolitionist preacher who joins the Confederate forces as an act of rebellion against his strict upbringing! Indeed, while Sharpe grows and learns a little in each book, the only thing Starbuck seems to learn in this first volume is to devalue human life! Indeed, his overall transformation seems rather forced.
It doesn't help that Cornwell appears to be creating the same setups as in the Sharpe series, giving his hero a dangerous and loyal sidekick, a passel of idiotic officers, with one or two sprinkled in who recognize the hero's value. There's even a tempting woman to lead all the men astray! It's also rather slow and plodding compared to the Sharpe books, although granted, it appears to be designed more as a prelude to the series than anything else.
The story follows 20ish Nate Starbuck, as he enlists in a local Confederate force being mustered by the fabulously wealthy and dangerously vain father of his best friend. The book sees the slow build to war, as the "Faulconer Legion" equips and readies itself, before finally getting into action at the Battle of Manassas (aka Bull Run 1). The battle/action scenes are adequate, but not as gripping as his Napoleonic stuff. I suspect this may be because the Civil War is more familiar to us Americansï¿we've seen it in print, on TV, in film, even reenacted!ï¿whereas the Napoleonic battle has the allure of something new.
As always with Cornwell, there's a ton of interesting little details, and various historical figures popping in and out of the plot. He does seem to play rather loose with a number of facts, but it is fiction after all. I'll read the next in the series, but this one was a serious disappointment for this Cornwell fan!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good...., March 14 2002
By 
Harry F. Clark (Waynesboro, VA USA) - See all my reviews
I've enjoyed reading Cornwell's series of Civil War novels (the Starbuck series). I recommend them, however, only with certain reservations.
These books are best approached as works of pure fiction that are set against approximations of history. People who read them either as an introduction to or as an adjunct to a study of actual history need to be wary here. Cornwell is a novelist, not an historian. Usually he gets the facts right; sometimes he does not. He freely invents major characters and events, and there are places where he alters established historical fact to suit his fiction. The result can be confusing.
For example, in _Copperhead_, Cornwell has Johnston hatching the battle plan for the Seven Pines offensive all on his own. That's not the way it happened. What's known about what did happen is far more interesting than Cornwell's altered and simplified version of events.
The second bone I have to pick with Cornwell's Civil War books, is that people who have read his previous novels (the Sharpe series) will find the many of the same characters and themes recurring in these. The characters here are somewhat less one-dimensional, but they're still transparent and predictable. The dialog is better.
As an historical novelist, I would spot Cornwell somewhere between Patrick O'Brian and the Shaaras (Michael and Jeff). He's not as good a novelist as O'Brian; he's not as good an historian as the Shaaras. On the other hand, he's almost as good as all of them combined. Not quite, but almost.
For those looking for the best Civil War novels, I would read these only after first reading the Shaaras' trilogy and The Red Badge of Courage. If at all possible, I would then read them alongside more carefully written accounts of the historical backgrounds.
That said, this is an excellent series of books. It will hold your attention and give you a fairly accurate impression of the sorts of things that really did go on back then. The facts are somewhat loose, but the final impression you'll get will not be.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining!, Dec 3 2001
By 
"p_trabaris" (Naperville, IL United States) - See all my reviews
For a different type of Civil War story I recommend "Rebel" by Bernard Cornwell. "Rebel" is the story of a lackluster seminary college student from Boston, MA finding his true calling in life as a soldier. Part of a four book series set, "Rebel" is book one of the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles. The story is set in ante-bellum Virginia right before the Civil War is in full swing.
The hero Nate Starbuck is a northerner who decides to fight for the Confederacy. His reasons are not specifically stated but we can infer that he is rejecting his family's way of life and rebelling against both his nation and his repressive father. Starbuck decides to join his friend's father's legion as a second lieutenant. Prior to the war, Starbuck has shown little aptitude for any other trade and he hopes that soldiering is his true calling. The battle of Manassas (or the first battle of Bull Run) is Starbuck's proving ground where he shows his budding talent.
Very much like Cornwell's Sharpe series, Starbuck is a little too good to be real and that's what makes "Rebel" so fun to read. Interestingly enough Cornwell gives lots background about Starbuck, more than he has shared about Sharpe in any of his Sharpe stories. I think it is unusual that Cornwell's hero Starbuck selected the South to pledge his allegiance, he is after all a northerner born and bred. Perhaps It is Cornwell's way of illustrating how far Starbuck is rejecting his old way of life.
Nevertheless, I found the novel very entertaining and recommend it to readers who look for high adventure and exciting stories. It is hard to find fault with any novel by Bernard Cornwell. He is an excellent story-teller and he can write. I would recommend "Rebel" to readers who enjoy wars/battles and don't mind a few facts getting lost along the way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Comedic Conferates Win as Well, Aug. 24 2001
By 
Harry Kelley (Mt. Pleasant, MI US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rebel (Mass Market Paperback)
In addition to all that's been said about the battles, I have to say that there is much of comic genius in this book. Thaddeus Byrd is one of the funniest characters on paper (paper worth more than what it is printed upon indeed). His blustery apprehension of the cracked world is as winning as it is side-splitting. His tenderness in considering his young wife make you love him. His achievement of presence in the Battle of Manassas is a remarkable development. As a Southerner, I have to say the Cornwell gets it right. It is very rare that anyone except Southerners get the details of Southern sensibility correct. And generally Southerners themselves are quick to hide behind a mask of pleasant amusement. But the bravado, insecurity, breeding, manners, and style of the South are perfectly laid out in the writing of this novel. I for one did not find the battle to be the heart of the novel. Rather, I found it to be the development of Faulkner, the braggadocio of a self-made man, the epitome of the South, and the revealing of his spineless nature. Mind you, I have living relatives name Robert Lee and John Davis. And the original name on my own birth certifice was Stonewall Jackson.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Wel written and good to read, Aug. 27 2000
This review is from: Rebel (Mass Market Paperback)
Most people will associate Bernard Cornwell's writings with the adventures of Richard Shape, both in Spain/France and more recently in India. Rebel is set at the start of the American Civil War, yet has many of the themes of the Sharpe books, the soldiers life, incompetent officers, sergeants to be won over, a love interest and the occasional internal dialogue reflecting the thoughts of the main figures. Cornwell brings his vast literary talents and depicts a Virginia of 1861 that is on the verge of a destructive and bloody war. His writing is what you would expect of an author who fine-tuned his military fiction over a whole series of musket and shell novels.
Nathaniel Starbuck is the son of a northern abolitionist preacher. Hailing from Boston he finds himself caught up in the turmoil of a Richmond - capital of the Confederacy - which seems intent on war. Saved from tar and feather at the hands of a war hungry mob by his friends father - the rich and egotistical Washington Faulconer - Starbuck enlists in the Faulconer Legion and marches off to war against his home - the North.
This is a good book and I enjoyed it a great deal. However, where I think Cornwell excels are in his descriptions of battle scenes. Unlike Sharpe who is usually thrown into battle within the first pages, Starbuck does not experience battle until the end of the novel. This is not to the detriment of the book, but it is worth bearing in mind if you are expecting a total replica of Richard Sharpe.
The battle in question is First Manassas or Bull Run in the North (the confederates usually named battle sites after the nearest inhabitation, whereas the Federals usually used the nearest geographical landmark). Cornwell writes with skill and enthusiasm of the battle, which reflects his obvious extensive research of the subject matter, for example, his depiction of the vulgar Confederate Colonel 'Shanks' Evans is wonderfully graphic and historically correct. Often the events can seem confusing to read, not because of Cornwell's writing but rather because First Manassas was confusing! So be prepared to be propelled right into the heart of the battle, the musket smoke, the crash of the shell, the whine of the shot and the gasps of the dying.
Bernard Cornwell has written four 'Starbuck' novels and it is reported that the question he dislikes the most is when will number five come along. There is no doubt that Sharpe is both his first love and indeed proves to be more lucrative but Starbuck is equally well written, good to read and hopefully deserving of further adventures.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing a Hero, April 19 2000
This review is from: Rebel (Mass Market Paperback)
I cannot rate this book without talking about the brilliance of the whole series. Cornwell takes you from your reading room, and teleports you back to a simpler time. And you find out that it's not so simple. Set against the backdrop of the Eastern Theatre in the American Civil War, he portrays the massive carnage and greatest bravery in minute detail. You actually hear the cannons, and smell the rotting flesh of the wounded. Yet, the main plot does not take place amongst the gunfire outside. But, rather, within. It is a story of a soul, and his struggle with God, man, who he is, and what he stands for. Amidst the shouting, crying, blasting, and dieing...is a poor heart, searching for peace. I found Cornwell's protrayal of Nate Starbuck to be no less than perfect. I found myself rooting, questioning, hoping, and praying for this fictional character. For, I saw myself in Nate. The same questions, fears, and desires. When done, I walked away from this story with a different outlook on life, liberty, and what's truly important. As will you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Rebel
Rebel by Bernard Cornwell (Hardcover - Jan. 7 1993)
Used & New from: CDN$ 0.56
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews