For years now I've been collecting odds and ends of Tarleton Trivia, including any novel in which Banastre appears. As is the case with movies, his fictional incarnations seldom bear much resemblance to his real life and in general are seriously unflattering. Almost invariably, he is relegated to the role of villain, which I've grown to expect. What is more disappointing is that few authors even allow him to be an interesting villain. No matter how much or how little s/he believes of the "Bloody Ban" legends, it eludes me how an author can do any research at all into Tarleton's life without noticing that (in addition to being very good at his job), he was lively, conversational, quirky, sociable, witty, ridiculous, clever, amusing, irresponsible, etc. etc. Where do all these monotonous, two-dimensional killing machines come from? It beats the heck out of me.1
These reviews are highly subjective, to say the least. Hopefully, they will provide enough information to help a reader decide if an individual book is worth tracking down. (And I probably should issue a generic spoilers warning, since I've never been good at judging where the cut-off point lies between "enough" and "too much" information, particularly when I'm talking about an old, obscure novel which few others are likely to bother to read.)
I've always sorted the index by title, though as time passes, I begin to think I should add new books onto the end, so the reviews come in the order they were written. I'm definitely getting bitchier and more cynical as I go. Faults that seemed minor the first time I saw them drive me bugnuts in the twentieth encounter, though that twentieth author is no guiltier than the first of bad writing. But good grief. RevWar fiction is hopelessly mired in a standard set of stock clichés, and while I love a nice, brain dead, so-bad-it's-downright-good B-movie plot as much as the next late-late show fan, they get monstrously tedious when you encounter the exact same ones over and over and over again. If a writer wants readers to turn a polite blind eye to the (absolutely inevitable) historical slip-ups and artistic licenses in a novel he/she ought to at least be willing to bribe said reader with some decent entertainment. Unfortunately, the majority of those RevWar novels I've read offer neither good entertainment nor good history.2
I'm pleased to welcome to these pages a growing list of guest reviewers, to provide a little variety of opinion!
Tarleton gets cameo mentions in many other books, a few of which deserve short-short reviews.
If you know of any Tarleton appearances in fiction that aren't listed here, please let me know.
1 That's a bit of an exaggeration. I realize the major cause of the problem is that fiction authors aren't normally historians. They pick up a few books on their topic, read through them and accept whatever they find as "truth." With Banastre Tarleton, that makes for pretty bad odds, since the truth about his life is thoroughly buried beneath two centuries of accumulated doggy-do. I've been sieving through that layer for quite a while, and I'm still discovering that some of the things I've believed for years are 100% false. [ back ]
2 I've heard people comment about how strange it is that there is so little fiction -- whether print or film -- about the Revolution compared to the tons of fictional material which comes out about the Civil War. I think the primary reason is the relative complexities of the storylines. Nowadays, good Civil War novels explore in some depth the complex political and cultural issues which led to the conflict. The typical RevWar novel reduces the situation to a comic book. (In many cases, this is an insult to comic books.) [ back ]
|Return to the Main Page||Last updated by the Webmaster on January 2, 2011|