Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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.
Fortune’s Soldier by Alex Rutherford is the story of Nicholas Ballantyne, officially a soldier in the East India Company. But that man was so much more- a messenger, a spy, a friend, a savior, a lover.
The story is based on documents that were found during an auction. These documents contained letters and other details about Ballantyne’s journey throughout India, his involvement in the war between France and England and his relationship with fellow soldiers and natives.
The story starts from the Highlands of Scotland, where fate pushes Nicholas to India, then known as Hindustan. Nicholas’s journey through time and places is quite eventful. We see a lot of different sides to Nicholas’s character, and that is one of the key features of the book. The character development is astonishing and it is these characters who hold the story together.
We also get a glimpse of political strategies and war planning by various Nawabs in India. The details have been provided by means of dialogues most of the times, and that was quite engrossing.
What didn’t work for me was the fact that the book didn’t reach a high, and the thrill factor was missing almost throughout the book. Things got a bit exciting only towards the end.
Fortune’s Soldier is about the life of a soldier who had adventures (mostly dangerous) awaiting him at every turn. It is informational, detailed, and has its own peaks and troughs.