A military thriller based around the adventures of two young Fallschirmjager paratroopers during the early part of World War II. It is a fictionalised adventure based on the famous assault on the impregnable Belgian Fortress, Eben Emael. Tall, gangly Paul Brand is supported by his junior sergeant, Unterfeldwebel Max Grun, as he experiences his first action as a platoon commander in Poland, September 1939. The mutual respect between the two comrades grows as they experience the sights and smells of battle at close quarters Following their success in Poland, Paul, Max and the platoon are sent to a clandestine camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains to train for a secret mission. Confined to camp for six months they undergo intensive training for their next mission – the subjugation of the Eben Emael Fortress. Two German secret weapons will assist them to complete their task; the first is the glider, used for the first time to deposit troops directly onto a target, and the second secret weapon is a new Hollow Charge Weapon, capable of blasting through steel or concrete. On completion of their training, nine gliders containing seventy two Fallschirmjager land on top of the fortress, before the troops move in to the depths of the tunnels to finish the job. Over one thousand Belgian troops fail to stop them. This exciting fictionalised retelling of the assault on Eben Emael is written by an author with experience in army intelligence.
Although I have tended to review gentler books on here, I do actually enjoy reading a good action/thriller type of novel, so when Devils With Wings came to my attention it was definitely one to go on my ‘to be read’ pile.
The novel starts off right in the thick of the action and introduces you to the main characters, Paul Brand and Max Grun. After reading the first chapter, I knew I was going to enjoy it.
I liked finding out about the characters’ back stories and how they came to become part of the elite Fallschirmjager. Likewise, it was really interesting seeing what they had to endure throughout their training and I enjoyed getting to know Paul and Max more as they embarked on their highly secretive and daring operation. The bond between the two men really came through.
The assault of Fort Eben Emael followed each glider’s mission and then the final attack on the fortress. The battle scenes were sometimes graphic but in no way gratuitous and only added to the atmosphere of the book.
Prior to reading this book, I knew absolutely nothing about the Fallschirmjager paratroopers and now I’m quite fascinated by them. Afterwards I spent time flicking around the web and YouTube looking at photos and documentaries about the real event. It was good being able to see exactly what the Fallschirmajager were up against and how it had been translated onto paper by the author.
So in summary – fast paced with action and tension – obviously well researched and backed up by the author’s own personal knowledge. I shall look forward to reading the next book in this series.
(P.S. I think I have a crush on Paul)
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