Monday, July 3, 2017

Jack Lark: Redcoat by Paul Fraser Collard

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: July 2, 2017

The third e-novella featuring young Jack Lark - now a young Redcoat yearning to rise above his lot in life - following Rogue and Recruit. Private Jack Lark wears his red coat with pride. Though life in Queen Victoria's service is tough, he relishes the camaraderie of Aldershot barracks, and four years' harsh discipline hasn't blunted his desire to be more than just a Redcoat. When he learns that Captain Sloames needs a new orderly, Jack is determined to prove his worth both to the officer and to Molly, the laundry girl who has caught his eye. But standing in his way is Colour Sergeant Slater, a cruel and vicious bull of a man who loathes Jack, and is longing for the chance to ruin his ambition...

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I started reading the Jack Lark series by Paul Fraser Collard last year, but had to put the books on hold when life got in the way. Lucky for me, I’ve found an excuse to continue my reading as I’ve recently received an ARC of The True Soldier and aim to review the novel within a week of its July 13th release date which doesn’t leave me a lot of time so I best get going. 

Jack Lark: Redcoat is the third of the three novellas that explore Jack’s early life and at only 100 pages, it’s a fairly quick read. What I like about it though, is how the novella illustrates Jack’s ambition, resilience, and ingenuity while showcasing Collard’s informative and entertaining approach to fiction. 

The novella is filled with authentic detail which speaks to the research behind it, but what struck me was how Collard slipped so much into the story without imposing on his audience. There’s not one a single long-winded info dump to be had which made it that much easier to get lost in the story.

Based on the set-up, I can only assume that Molly, Sloames, and Slater are key characters in The Scarlet Thief, but having said that, I have to say that I love how Collard write them here. Slater was actually introduced in Jack Lark: Recruit, but Redcoat takes his antagonistic association with Jack to a new level. Molly is the only notable female in the piece, but her world view and approach to life prove memorable and fresh. Sloames is flawed, but endearingly so and I think his personality intriguing which leaves me wondering where Collard will take it as the series progresses. 

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Molly had been right. You did make your own luck in this world. Good things did not happen to the meek or the quiet. They came to those who damned the future’s eyes, grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and took it for their own.
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