The Guns of Napoleon takes Victor Sirkov, professor of History at St. Petersburg State University, and passionate scholar of Napoleon, on an adventure through time to meet the very man he thought he knew so well.
Victor is contacted by the mysterious ChronoLab and given the opportunity to witness first hand what he could only have imagined. He is sent back two hundred years through a natural wormhole, and brings his personal demons with him.
Thrust into a world very different from the one he left behind, Victor must fight for survival during Napoleon’s fateful, and bloody, conquest of Russia. Knowing how history should play out, doesn’t always give him the upper hand, as Victor soon finds out.
The Guns of Napoleon deals with the consequences of changing significant moments of world history, and to what lengths one man will go to correct them, not only for the greater good of mankind, but for the woman he loves.
I love the idea of time-travel, and especially the idea that what might be done in the past can change our present. Like every author I have a book or two in mind to explore this idea. (I know there’s a technical term for this, but am not sure which the right one is: The butterfly effect? Temporal paradox? Bootstrap paradox? Retrocausality? Take your pick. You get the idea.)
When I first read The Guns of Napoleon, I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in for an enjoyable ride using this idea with a real historical figure (Napoleon Bonaparte) and an unassuming professor who tries to spread his love for all things Napoleon to his disinterested students. A present day man used to today’s luxuries thrown into the rough past that he’s unprepared for has to figure out how to survive to get back home. Due to a mistake made by his time-travelling companion, history is changed and he eventually returns to an unexpected world, the only man with the knowledge of how it’s changed.
Peter Lean gives us Victor, who could be any one of us, and skillfully weaves a tale around his passion for history and the unexpected chance to get to witness firsthand the object of his great knowledge. Who among us wouldn’t jump at the same chance? Victor is a great character because he is us. The rest of the story is an added bonus. All of the secondary characters really only show up for a short time, but Lean manages to make their indelible impact on Victor’s life clear and concise in their scenes. Great authors are able to do that subtle trick without us even realizing they’re doing it.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of historical novels, this is one you’re going to enjoy. The history to me was secondary to a character study, and how even the smallest of our actions can have a profound effect on the world we live in. I look forward to reading the sequel to this novel.
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*Note: Peter Lean had me edit this book for him which is how I came to read it. That didn't affect my review. My review is an honest, unbiased review.