Heart of Oak

Heart of Oak - David        Cook This is David Cook's second offering in The Soldier Chronicles series about the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. One thing I particularly like about Mr. Cook's books is that they are unpredictable, and each one is an engrossing and riveting read on its own. They provide the reader with snapshots of fighting men of the period and each story is unique and gives the reader a different perspective on the life and times of these men.

HEART OF OAK is a good example of this. It begins with two distinct situations: Capt. Gamble and the Marines attempting to liberate the Maltese Islands and Gamble's struggle with grief over the death of a friend, killed in a previous action some months prior. From Cook's heart-rending description of Gamble's inner turmoil, it is apparent that he is suffering from PTS syndrome. Others are suffering as well, most notably Marine Crouch. In addition, I really liked the way Cook portrayed Gamble's closest friends, Powell and Lt. Kennedy - the humor, banter and language seemed very authentic. (Note: I hope Cook writes more about the Siege of Acre in the next in this series).

This is an extremely well crafted novella. The writing style is comfortable and enticing and it is easy to get lost in the tale. The attack on the fort and aftermath were very well written - I could almost smell the blood and powder-smoke from the muskets and could visualize the resulting horrible wounds.
In addition, the characters come off as vivid and real. (Lorn Mullone and Sergeant Cahill from Cook's other work, LIBERTY OR DEATH, are prime examples of this, and carry on from eBook to eBook). Cook's villains also leap off the page - you could really visualize Capitaine Tessier and feel his ire!

The finale of the novella was riveting - a chase through the streets of Valletta - more like a thriller than a historical piece.

David Cook is truly a 'new voice' in historical-fiction and HEART OF OAK is an absorbing masterpiece that deserves a fan base. Give it a try - I know you won't be disappointed.