Plot: Won by the Sword is set in the 17th century. The French at that time were in the midst of what would turn out to be a thirty years war.
We meet our hero, Hector Campbell, in 1639, the war has already been raging for twenty-some-odd years by that time. Found by General Turrene practicing play-war against a city, Hector talks some time with him before finding that the gentlemen he is speaking with is General Turrene himself. Turrene takes a liking to Hector and soon has him on as his personal messenger.
The thirty years war began mostly due to the different nobles of France warring for more power, and a stronger hold on the French throne. At that time the Italian bishop, Richelieu, held great power over the throne, mostly due to his friendship with the king. A man of intelligence and power, Richelieu did his best to unite France during his life time with the king.
Not far into our story Richelieu, and the king, die of illness. The king’s young son is then crowned king, but the throne is in control of his mother until he comes of age. Succeeding Richelieu is Mazerin, another Italian bishop who is also in great power, though he was not greatly admired by the king, he learned well from Richelieu and is held in favor by the queen.
General Enghien is also under Frances’s service at this time, and is equal in brilliance in strategy to Turrene, though Turrene is more cautious while Enghien is less concerned with how many men are lost. Both are equally brave, and both take a liking to Hector, who serves under the two.
Battles are won on either side, the French and Austrian, (both countries have other countries aiding them) but nothing happens that truly sways the victory rod in either direction.
This Henty book contains much of the history of France, yet is combined with Hector’s own adventures, which are many. We see the war through Hector’s eyes, and are very happy for it, as it’s a fun nose-in-the-pages book.
Negative: The war chapters do not go into great detail of how men die and are very mild. Other than a duel, an alley fight and a brush with robbers in an inn, there is little negative content.
Overall: This was a very good Henty book, not his most exciting, but it was not dry and dull. I do recommend this book, as it is chock full of good history, and is rather a fun read. (And, as usual, our hero is ever brave and honorable.)