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Full Name: Cal Jardine
Series Name: The Road To War
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Other - Soldier of Fortune

Creator: Jack Ludlow
Time Span: 2011 - 2012


Callum 'Cal' Jardine is a soldier of fortune.

He is not a spy, at least not when we first meet him. He never really wants to be a spy though he will find himself working for British Intelligence. He is a soldier, when the world will let him, or a trainer of soldiers when he has to be to make a living. Spying - not so much. But he is kind of good at it.

On our initial contact with Jardine, he is a smuggler or sorts, using his wide array of contacts throughout Europe to smuggle Jews out of 1935 Germany to places where they will not be so ill treated. He is performing a much needed mission of mercy for those that he is able to help and for that he should be lauded. He also charges, not exorbitantly, for these services so when someone asks if he is kind of a Robin Hood, he responds, "No, but neither am I the Sheriff of Nottingham."

One of the ways he is able to operate so well in Nazi Germany was that he was "partly raised in" that nation so he not only speaks the language like the partial native he is, he understands the people and knows in this land where the Nazis are taking such total control where there are still people less than thrilled with the Third Reich mentality.

Such is the situation when a representative from British Intelligence comes to visit with a request for his help in a matter or two. As the gentleman put it, "Certain worthy people at home require a disreputable character to do an honourable thing, and I advised them you rather fit the bill, you being a multilinguist and something of an adventurer. It also has to be a chap with certain military skills, which you also possess." True to Jardine's nature, he took the statements and the comments as neither a compliment nor an insult.

Jardine is likely in his late 30's, "still a handsome bugger ... with the build of the rugby back row he had once been, a hard man who lived a testing life, the face lean, with the scars to prove it faintly evident on brow and jaw." He is also said to have "piercing blue eyes, under those pale eyebrows and lashes" and can quickly produce his "seductive, lopsided grin". He has lots of lady friends seemingly all over the place and each one tends to treat him quite fondly but are not surprised nor heart-broken when life takes him to some other locale.

Those locales that he will visit on behalf of British Intelligence will be Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where Mussolini is trying to absorb and the British not so pleased and then back to Europe where trouble will call him to Franco's Spain and to Czechoslovakia where the Sudetenland is being absorbed by Hitler.

Interesting comment:

"Purity and poverty find it hard to coexist, especially for a widow with three children."


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2011
Last Appearance:2012

1 The Burning Sky The Burning Sky
Written by Jack Ludlow
Copyright: 2011

The year is 1935. Cal Jardine was a soldier of fortune just ousted from Germany for helping Jews escape. A mysterious British group approaches him to smuggle arms into Abyssinia which is threatened by Italy. It sounded a tad difficult. It turned out to be a whole lot worse.
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2 A Broken Land A Broken Land
Written by Jack Ludlow
Copyright: 2011

It is Spain in the mid 30s. A group of British athletes have traveled there to take part in games to rival the Olympics in Berlin. As tensions rise to the start of that country's Civil War, they ask Cal Jardine to train them so they can join the fight. Training is hardly all he gets involved in.
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3 A Bitter Field A Bitter Field
Written by Jack Ludlow
Copyright: 2012

The late 30s sees Hitler ready to take over the Sudetenland. The head of MI-6 wants to prove that the invasion is imminent and he hires Cal Jardine to get that proof. Not everyone in that organization is willing to help and Jardine finds new enemies and old friends around every bend.
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Wow, such a well-crafted set of exciting and thought-provoking adventures the author has given us. Jardine's occupation when we meet him of being a good-guy doing good work but making sure he make good money doing it is surprisingly refreshing. There is no price-gouging of the poor families who need his help but neither is there total altruism. I liked Jardine from the first moment I met him.

I especially liked the way he handled things when he was leaving a bar early on and a large burly man under orders stood in his way. Jardine did not hesitate nor did he bandy words. He immediately smashed a beer bottle on the man's head, kicked the fellow where no man wants to be kicked, shoved the gent out of the way and kept moving. To him it was just natural.

The author has clearly done a ton of research in the times that Jardine is living and operating and he passes along that environment extremely well with no wasted effort, truly masterful prose. Considering the man has also penned numerous historical adventures from Roman and Medieval times, his ability to grasp life in another time and then present it well is without question.


My Grade: A-


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