An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
5 out of 5
2012 SOA Listening Challenge: Historical
2012 TBR Challenge: Personal
Part romance and part history, this is a truly incredible novel. I listened to the entire 15 hours over two days. I couldn't stop. I have put off listening to this book for a couple of years because I was afraid I'd find the details of the battles boring, but I needn't have worried. It's true I was a little overwhelmed at times by the sheer amount of information presented, but I was always fascinated. Even when I was a bit lost with the names and descriptions, I enjoyed the beauty of the language. I took the time to look up a little about the Battle of Waterloo, and seeing some of the people and place names in print helped me keep them somewhat straight. While I listened to the battle, which takes up about the last third of the book, I had several maps of the campaign open on the computer and was able to follow the details tolerably well that way. I paused the narration periodically to figure out the troop movements on the map, and while I'm sure the finer details still escaped me, at least I was not lost. In fact, I was mesmerized, shocked, and moved by the descriptions.
The romance was not typical of romance novels, although in retrospect it makes sense for Heyer to write it. Barbara Childs is the granddaughter of "The Devils Cub" and the great-granddaughter of Justin, the Duke of Avon in "These Old Shades." Neither of those heroes was what one would call a nice person, and neither is Barbara. What I can sometimes accept in a hero I have a little more problem with in a heroine. I disliked her extremely for the first half of the book, but was able to accept the eventual change of heart as real. Charles is a wonderful hero.
I am glad I reread "Regency Buck" right before this. Judith and Worth play a large role in An Infamous Army, and it was good to see more of them. The present Duke of Avon (Dominique of The Devil's Cub) and his wife Mary also make an appearance. Since Heyer tends to end her romances with the confession of love, it's always wonderful to see how the characters from previous books are getting on after marriage.
I recommend reading in this order:
The Black Moth (the villain from this book is very obviously the prototype for the Duke of Avon in These Old Shades. Read this for the backstory, although the names were changed for These Old Shades.)
These Old Shades
The Devil's Cub
An Infamous Army