Reviews

Serving Shaka (The Richard Davey Chronicles Book 2, sequel to Needing Napoleon)


Amazon.co.uk


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A novelist who is clearly also a gifted historian

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 August 2022

I read this author's first novel, and was captivated by his extensive knowledge of his subject and his ability to translate what could be dry and dusty history to the pages of a novel. He makes his characters come alive with a stroke of his pen.

For anyone who loves history with a touch of the personal to lighten it, I recommend this exciting book and this author.


*****


Needing Napoleon (The Richard Davey Chronicles Book 1)


Viridian Tea House

‘Needing Napoleon blew me away… you need to read this book!’

Link to full review(at 8m 30s):

Viridian Tea House - Kat Windness, Jeremy Hicks/Barry Hayes, Gareth Williams - Bing video


Historical Novel Society

‘Inventive time-travel novel… Williams obviously has a deep love for the Napoleonic period… believable [story]’

Link to full review:   

Needing Napoleon: 1 (The Richard Davey Chronicles) - Historical Novel Society


Discovering Diamonds

‘A compelling read and couldn't put it down until I found out if Richard Davey did in fact manage to change the course of history’

Link to full review:   

Discovering Diamonds: Search results for gareth williams


*****


Amazon.co.uk


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  What a real twist on history

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 June 2022

I loved this book, as a reader of all sorts of historical fiction, I was fascinated as to what Gareth could do with such a well-known story and how he could engage the reader with such an egotistical but fascinating figure such as Napoleon - well he certainly does that, history intertwined with a little fantasy and brilliant descriptive passages, that have you shuddering with the rain dripping down your neck. There are certainly a few plot twists that are totally unexpected and our main protagonist - a history teacher from our time, shows us how a little courage and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone, can take us to places and experiences that we long to see and have. My next book in the series arrives tomorrow and I am really looking forward to how this fantastic story moves on. Highly recommended, read it and enjoy.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Being So Close To Emperor Napoleon

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 May 2022

This is my first review on 'Goodreads' and I have also thought about adding it on 'Amazon', because this amazing novel brought me so much happiness as it fulfilled my greatest dream of being so close to Emperor Napoleon thanks to Mister Richard Davey. The detailed and artistic descriptions made me feel as if I was there. I admired Mister Richard's tremendous courage when he intervened at the battle of Waterloo and he tried his best to help our beloved Emperor win. Even though the historical events took place as we know them, Mister Davey's time travelling journey proved to be an outstanding adventure to rescue the Emperor from Saint Helena. Everything in this book is so enlightening and you can feel the characters' emotions as their voices do have a resonating tone because the vivid descriptions make you participate in each moment. I absolutely loved Mister Davey's trip to Paris and his enchanting conversations with the fascinating tour guide called Amélie Durand. I also loved Mister Davey's devoted friend and comrade, Emile. Their loyalty towards Emperor Napoleon is so heartwarming.


I was truly moved to tears when Mister Richard and Emile followed the Emperor to Saint Helena. I adore our beloved Emperor more than I could ever be able to express and show my immense love for him. This wonderful book took me closer to Emperor Napoleon and I can admit the fact that this novel is my favourite. If you read Monsieur Max Gallo's 'Napoleon' tetralogy, you could easily identify the delightful descriptions which make everything so real. I also loved the amusing quarrel during one of the dinners at 'Longwood'. I apologise if my review is not very organised; it is my first review. I can hardly wait to read the sequel which has just come out. It is called 'Serving Shaka'. I entirely recommend Mister Gareth William's masterpieces. They are absolutely amazing and Mister Davey's will take you with him on his marvellous journey! Don't forget to pack your bags!'


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  History from a contemporary viewpoint

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 May 2022

Richly descriptive with an energetic flow to the narrative. A good read that gives the viewpoint of the Napoleonic period through the 21st Century eyes of the time-travelling story-teller. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of Napoleon that allowed me to hear him speak his dialogue rather than just reading it. Historical fiction with a sci-fi twist! That'll do for me!


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A work of incredible scholarship

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 April 2022

I love historical fiction and have an across-the-board fascination with most periods in history, both in non-fiction and fiction. Having read Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army, about Waterloo, as a late teenager (rather a long time ago) as well as The Spanish Bride which concerns the Peninsular War, I was very interested to begin reading this time travel historical novel about Waterloo and its aftermath.


Mr Williams is clearly a writer with a deep passion for his subject as every little detail in it comes over as realistic and well-researched. He has an enormous knowledge of all things Napoleonic, from the layout of the battle, the weapons used, the clothing they wore to what they ate and drank. Napoleon is a hero of his and it comes over in every word he writes.


He's created a hero a little similar to himself for the story in Mr Richard Davey, a schoolteacher fed up with his humdrum life and eager to have an adventure. This adventure happens in his school holidays when he goes to Paris (luckily for his adventures he speaks pretty much fluent French) and meets an old lady who has a sort of curio/antique shop. She tells him her own story about how she lost her husband back in time, and tells him that if he really wants to, and if truly nothing is holding him in the present, he can get back to the time of his hero, Napoleon. Richard has a bit of a setback, but eventually he does manage to think himself back into the past.


Of course, we have to be prepared to set credulity aside a little as he manages to make his way into Napoleon’s inner circle, but this is fiction, and who cares? We hardly want to see our hero get back there and get blown to bits do we? We want to see him as he tries to help Napoleon win at Waterloo. I won’t say anything further about this as it would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that the action continues after Waterloo, with Richard still at Napoleon’s side.


The story is heavy on historical detail, particularly in the parts where Waterloo is taking place, and for me this was a tiny bit too much. But that’s most likely because I’m a woman. For anyone who is interested in Napoleon and Waterloo and the aftermath, this would be an excellent book to read. Being written in the present tense (third person) gives it a feeling of immediacy that fits the action. And Mr Williams’ deep knowledge flows out of every page. He comes over as an erudite and learned man, whose writing is smooth and blemish free. I cannot fault his style and would not mark him down for his, for me, over attention to Waterloo. He describes it well enough to get the feel of the individual present, rather than the overview one often has of a battle. We see it through the eyes of the man from the future, almost the everyman, and he helps us see it through our eyes too.


An excellent book, very well written.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Highly recommended. Intriguing plot & time travelling conceit

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 April 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed "Needing Napoleon". Intriguing plot & time travelling conceit. Exquisite evocation of Waterloo & era informed by rich research. But for me the best part was St Helena & the voyage to S Africa when the author’s imagination really took flight. Raises bizarre questions over the morality of interfering with history & aiding Napoleon...!


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Highly believable story

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 February 2022

Using his detailed knowledge of the battle of Waterloo and the Napoleonic era, the author weaves a highly believable story, between past and present, about the French Emperor before and after that great battle. Once exiled on St Helena, our hero dreams of returning to France and plots his escape on an East India Company ship. Full of surprises, the narrative quickens as Napoleon is forced to fight on deck for his freedom before landing on the hostile shore of Delgoa Bay in South West Africa. This is the promising start of what will be a much-anticipated series.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A story of time travel - exciting and rooted in historical detail

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 December 2021

Gareth Williams first novel begins slowly as it builds the scenario for time travel. The character Richard is well drawn. Lacking ambition and decision he has got nothing to lose by going back in time to find and help his hero.
The pace quickens as the narrative unfolds and it seems that the author gains confidence in his writing which increases in fluency. There is no sense of a slackening pace towards the end - in fact the second novel seems to be just beginning.

I look forward to it.
I’ve really enjoyed this story - I believed in the characters, their unlikely friendships and their development. I wouldn’t usually choose to read a ‘historical’ novel, but this has been intriguing and hard to put down.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Excellent read

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 December 2021

For a dedicated scifi/fantasy reader this is a great first historical novel.
Interesting characters who you want to get to know better, great story line and good historical detail, and an interesting idea. Highly recommended.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The historical details of the battles and the period are well researched

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 July 2022

Richard Davey is a lonely and disillusioned teacher working in a girls' school; his main interest in life is Napoleonic history. When he is offered the incredible opportunity to travel back to the early 19th century and meet his hero, Napoleon Bonaparte, he doesn't hesitate even though he can hardly believe it is true. The story opens when Richard finds himself transported back to 1815 on the eve of the battle of Waterloo; his adventure begins with him being deposited amongst the British troops unsure of how to make his way to the French army without being shot as a spy. Despite being soaked from the persistent rain, hungry, frightened and cold he knows that now there is no going back to his old life.

In the first part of the book there are a few flashbacks to the twenty-first century so that the reader can understand Richard's life and how he came to make such a momentous change to it. After that it concentrates on how he meets Napoleon and becomes part of his hero's entourage both on the battlefield and in exile.

The historical details of the battles and the period are well researched and the author gives such precise descriptions of the blood and gore of the battles that you feel you are there, smelling the cordite and hearing the clash of steel on steel. Mr Williams appears to have an expansive knowledge of 19th-century warfare both on land and at sea, all of which bring the story to life. But it is not all about battles; there is plenty of intrigue going on among the court of Napoleon while he is in exile on St. Helena. The book is elegantly written and packed with intricate details of dress and behaviour, as well as painting a very sympathetic portrait of Richard's hero, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Although this is not my usual choice of historical novel, I found it a compelling read and couldn't put it down until I found out if Richard Davey did in fact manage to change the course of history.

I suggest you read it yourself to learn more.

Originally Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Fascinating historical fiction

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 June 2022

Gareth Williams' novel about a contemporary history teacher who is disillusioned with his life and discovers a time travel portal to a period of history that is particularly important for him is a fascinating read. Richard's journey is one from being a nobody into heroism, and I liked the way that his Aunt Patricia and her reactions provides a touchstone for his actions.


Richard finds himself slap bang in the middle of Napoleon Bonaparte's moment of defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and tries to prevent Napoleon from being defeated. Ultimately, he is unable to change the course of history at that moment, but as he befriends Napoleon (whom the author has a clear soft spot for) he finds further points in the future where he is able to change the course of history.


Williams' depth of research and love of history shines through his writing, and I found myself believing in his sympathetic view of Napoleon as he was so well characterised. At times, I found the military descriptions hard to follow, but I'm sure others with more interest in military history will be enamoured.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A page turner

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 March 2022

I enjoyed this book, about a time travelling history teacher, whose hero is Napoleon.

Great read. Now I can't wait for the sequel.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Great read. Got to get to the end!

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 March 2022

A great example of the "what if" genre approach to history.


Creatively structured, I enjoyed the time-switching back and forth.


To manipulate the alternative narrative, the author clearly knows his subject.


An entertaining read.


Recommended.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Engaging alternative history mix of character and action

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 March 2022

I love an anti-hero and from the initial queasy interview with his teaching boss, the steely Mrs Streight, we know Richard is someone going nowhere in life. But he’s a sympathetic character and we’re rooting for him from the first page. The time travel is an appealing device. Who wouldn’t want to travel back in time and change history? I cannot fault Gareth Williams’s research and the scene where Richard declares to Napoleon ‘I believe you still have options, sire’ is simply delicious to a military history nerd like myself. The plotting and narrative pace works well and the writing flows effortlessly. Recommended!


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Anything is possible to those who believe

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 January 2022

The idea of time travel fascinates me, add to that a chance to interact with a hero, well what more needs to be said. This story will certainly make the reader want to make ‘that’ wish, or not.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ An entertaining, swashbuckling alternate history from an exciting new voice

Reviewed in the United States on 11 January 2022

I really enjoyed this! I am very fond of alternate history stories, and this was a treat to discover. Richard is an engaging hero-- he's flawed and relatable, not everyone likes him, and definitely not a perfect Gary Stu. I liked how the action in the past and present was interwoven, and while it's a slow burn it builds up to a satisfying blend of action and adventure and pure swashbuckling out of a Rafael Sabatini novel. Napoleon is a complex character, and I liked the rogue's gallery surrounding him-- I may not have agreed with the depiction of everyone, but it was clear that Williams had done his research. I finished it in one sitting, and I'm excited to see what happens next. Recommended!


*****


Goodreads.com

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A triumph!

August 1, 2022

This is a novel that will pleasantly surprise- living history in ones' mind! I know very little of Napoleonic war, but this novel brings every moment, feeling and atmosphere to stunning life and sharp focus. I learned so much, and the details are breath-taking, of modern Paris and Waterloo. I could smell the battle and felt every moment with the hero. A real 'what if' novel, which draws you in, using real-life characters and a protagonist who exhibits human flaws. I am excited to read the sequel.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Highly recommended

March 1, 2022

For a dedicated scifi/fantasy reader this is a great first historical novel. Interesting characters who you want to get to know better, great story line and good historical detail, and an interesting idea.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Napoleon, the Cuillin and Covid

24 January 2022

People talk about “having a good war.” I wonder if in the future people will look back and say that so and so had a good lockdown. Back in 2020, I was privileged to guide local author, Gareth Williams, in the Black Cuillin mountains. We had a good day out traversing the four tops of Sgurr a Mhadaidh then Gareth returned for six days of bagging the Cuillin Munros.

It was the year that Covid kicked off, a year of lockdowns but it was time Gareth had very obviously put to good use. As we climbed, we chatted at length about his book project and I was intrigued. History is a subject close to my own heart and just from a casual chat it was evident just how much research and effort Gareth had invested in his book.

To be honest, I didn’t realise then just how close to completion the book was and it was great to see “Needing Napoleon” appearing in print. The book is a fusion of history, time travel and the all-consuming question of what if one could travel back in history and change things.

It’s a far from new concept. H.G. Wells launched the genre with his 1895 novella, “The Time Machine.” More recently, and on a much grander scale, Stephen King wrote “11.22.63” which delves into the assassination of J.F. Kennedy and can a present-day English teacher travel into the past to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald pulling the trigger on that fateful day.

At a more modest 331 pages, Gareth’s book might be small compared to that by King but on all other counts can hold its head high. The plot is gripping, the authenticity of the Napoleonic era is superb and should stand scrutiny by the most expert of military enthusiasts. The central character is Richard Davey, a history teacher at a private school. Seemingly his career and life in general is going nowhere. His life is focused on his hero, Napoleon, the highlights of his life being school holidays and trips to locations made famous by the emperor.

Stumbling on the means to go back in time, Richard has little to lose and not just the chance to meet his hero, but perhaps to alter the outcome of the end game battle of Waterloo. His character is well built and it’s easy to relate to his miserable existence in the present and why he might opt to risk everything. Timid teacher turns back time as he hopes not just to influence history but to live life rather than just existing in a humdrum life of lessons in a school where he isn’t appreciated.

The book seamlessly switches between the present day and Napoleonic Europe as a lacklustre teacher normally content to coast through life, unambitious and indecisive, gets the chance to shape the destiny of intertwined empires. The classroom is replaced by the horrors of battle writ large as Richard meets his hero and the climax of the battle of Waterloo draws ever closer.

The concept behind the book may sound contrived, perhaps over used (or even abused) but Gareth’s writing makes for a gripping read. Better still, the ending leaves the way open for volume two of the Richard Davey Chronicles. I’m really looking forward to the next book and believe that volume three is well on the way, as well.

A fantastically drawn central character, period authenticity and a compelling plot make for a great read. Highly recommended. Read “Needing Napoleon” and I’m sure you’ll think that the author had a “good lockdown.” Time spent very productively and it’s fantastic to see the book in print. I can easily see this being snapped up as a mini-series for Netflix or similar. It’s wonderful to see a local author doing so well and a book written in the shadow of the Cuillin causing such interest from a first novel.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  This is a well-crafted novel which deftly switches between the present day and the nineteenth century

23 December 2021

The characters are well drawn and engaging and I quickly became invested in them - I really want to know what happens to them (especially the central character Richard Davey) in the sequel. There are some big themes at play: can you travel back in time, can you rewrite history, can you re-invent yourself, should you meet your hero; but they are grounded in human relationships, period detail and page-turning adventure. The historical aspect is fascinating but you do not have to be a history buff to enjoy it, although I learnt a lot about Waterloo and the Napoleonic era through the details and dramatic descriptions. I really enjoyed Needing Napoleon and I would definitely recommend it. 


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

June 13, 2022

Gareth Williams' novel about a contemporary history teacher who is disillusioned with his life and discovers a time travel portal to a period of history that is particularly important for him is a fascinating read. Richard's journey is one from being a nobody into heroism, and I liked the way that his Aunt Patricia and her reactions provides a touchstone for his actions.


Richard finds himself slap bang in the middle of Napoleon Bonaparte's moment of defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and tries to prevent Napoleon from being defeated. Ultimately, he is unable to change the course of history at that moment, but as he befriends Napoleon (whom the author has a clear soft spot for) he finds further points in the future where he is able to change the course of history.


Williams' depth of research and love of history shines through his writing, and I found myself believing in his sympathetic view of Napoleon as he was so well characterised. At times, I found the military descriptions hard to follow, but I'm sure others with more interest in military history will be enamoured.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  I really enjoyed this book

March 30, 2022

I love anything about time travel.

This is a good story with engaging characters.

Looking forward to the sequel.



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  A great example of the "what if" genre approach to history

19 January 2022

Creatively structured, I enjoyed the time-switching back and forth.

To manipulate the alternative narrative, the author clearly knows his subject.

An entertaining read.

Recommended. 


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  I really enjoyed this!

January 11, 2022

I am very fond of alternate history stories, and this was a treat to discover. Richard is an engaging hero-- he's flawed and relatable, not everyone likes him, and definitely not a perfect Gary Stu. I liked how the action in the past and present was interwoven, and while it's a slow burn it builds up to a satisfying blend of action and adventure and pure swashbuckling out of a Rafael Sabatini novel. Napoleon is a complex character, and I liked the rogue's gallery surrounding him-- I may not have agreed with the depiction of everyone, but it was clear that Williams had done his research. I finished it in one sitting, and I'm excited to see what happens next. Recommended!


*****


Waterstones.com

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Looking forward to more Richard Davey Chronicles 

15 December 2021

As a big fan of Sharpe books in particular and the Napoleonic era in general I was stoked to see a book that explored one 'what might have been' next for Wellington's (and Sharpe's) arch enemy.

This turned out to be really good read - took only 4 sessions to complete and was left wanting to find out what happens next for Richard Davey and his hero.

Nothing better than finding a new series that grips you.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Brilliant!

20 December 2021

This book is fab - well crafted with thoughtful characters and full of intrigue and adventure. I loved it and can’t wait for the next one!


*****

reads.grace (Instagram)

11 December 2021

This book is titled "Needing Napoleon" which is penned by Gareth Williams in the year 2021. This is the debut work of Gareth Williams. He studied history at Cambridge and has chosen the career of becoming a history teacher. Apart from reading and writing, Gareth loves the outdoors and is working all his way through 282 Scottish mountains over 3000 feet. It is a piece of additional happy news that the writer is currently working on. The story is a figment of the author's imagination. His area of expertise has assisted him in adding elements from history as well. The story is about a history teacher who wishes to change past events and get to see the consequences of the same. It is indeed an interesting take on the concept of time travel along with the present realities.
 
Overall, the book runs for 336 pages and is divided into 13 chapters. The story begins with a tone of experiment and with an aura of suspense. The author does not instantly reveal his motive and the plotline. Richard gets a chance to travel to the past and change the narrative events that happened to the great Napoleon Bonaparte. Grab this book to know more about the experiences and interaction of Richard with the great French Emperor. There are a lot of characters displayed in the story. Each character is given an important role to play. Even the minor characters are responsible for moving the plot forward.
 
Moreover, this book resembles the theme of Shakespeare's plays which revolves around the historical subject. The interactions with Napoleon resemble the scenes in Doctor Faustus where he interacts with Alexander the Great. The usage of modern concepts like time travel and reverse situations adds intriguing effects while reading the fiction. Henceforth, this book is recommended to those who love to read stories with a blend of history and imagination.


*****

Email

12 December 2021

I have a complaint to pass on… started reading his book last night on Kindle and was still awake at 5am!!! Couldn’t put it down. He’s such a good writer! Will defo be leaving a review when I’ve finished. His descriptions are fab and I just keep wanting to get back in the present/past…  hoping to get a better sleep tonight… Page Turner is exactly how I would put it…. And his descriptions make you feel you’re there! Freezing cold, tired and wet, trying to light fires….so good! Love a good book! And also love that it’s book 1 of more to come?