Title: Fortune’s Soldier
Written by: Alex Rutherford
Publisher: Hachette India
Genre: Historical Fiction
It is 1744, and Nicholas Ballantyne, a young Scotsman
dreaming of a life as laird of his ancestral estate finds himself quite
unexpectedly on the Winchester, a ship bound for Hindustan, seeking to begin a
new life as a ‘writer’ on the rolls of the British East India Company. On
board, he meets the spirited and mercurial Robert Clive, determined – at
whatever cost – to make a fortune in a land of opportunity.
Over the years that follow, their friendship sees many twists and turns as Clive’s restless hunger for wealth and power takes him from being a clerk to a commander in the Company’s forces, masterminding plans to snuff out rival French interests in Hindustan and eventually leading the company forces to victory at Plassey, the prelude to nearly two centuries of foreign rule in Hindustan.
Brilliantly crafted, and bringing to life the momentous events that shook India in the mid-eighteenth century, Fortune’s Soldier is an epic tale of a fascinating era by a master storyteller.
If you are looking for some good recommendation for historical fiction, Alex Rutherford would be the perfect one to start with. It’s very clear from the very beginning that the author has done a lot of research for this book – and the writing is proof of that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Nicholas Ballantyne, the protagonist through whose eyes we see the story, is quite an admirable character. Although he is not really happy that he has basically been shipped by his uncle to India, he accepts this and the journey he then undertakes is one full of immense adventure and danger as well. I think that the character is really well-made – he is the epitome of goodness, and despite the fact that many people might disagree with me, I really liked that the author decided to portray a character who has an innate goodness in his heart. His boldness and daring, as well as his love and his dignity were good additions to his being. The author has made him a well-rounded person that could definitely hook on the reader until the very end.
Tuhin Singh was another character I loved reading about – his sense of friendship and loyalty were treasures and I only regret that he was not given as much appreciation as he might have deserved. The author has also made the character of Robert Clive as an enigmatic persona – despite the truth that we know of his end, the author’s portrayal of this infamous person was such that he really piques the reader’s interest with his enthusiasm and zeal. He was made much likeable.
The plot was also very interesting to me – being an Indian myself, I wanted to see how the author would entwine a fictitious narrative with actual historical events. It was so fast paced that there is never a dull moment. Moreover, there are so many battles fought as well as battles that were referred to, and the subsequent addition of the Historical Note at the end was well-thought and definitely welcomed with open arms by me. The detailing and the descriptions that the author has provided, as such, were delivered in such a writing style, that I as a reader, was never bored. The author has been able to keep me interested until the very end. The writing style is understandable and easy enough for even unseasoned readers to delve into.
Themes of friendship, the corrupting influence of ambition and power, thus leading to corruption; justice, political intricacies etc., also made the story have depth. The author has explored adventure, romance, political struggles, etc., and made an invaluable effect on the story. Religion also plays a significant role throughout the book.
It was an immersive read in its entirety and I enjoyed this book a lot. I rate it a 4/5 stars.
About the reviewer
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc. She can be contacted at email@example.com .