We recently received a glowing review of 'The Scalpel and the Sword' by R. John Thorpe. Reviewed by Mark Graham. Read on to see the full review. 



The Scalpel and The Sword' by R. John Thorpe is about a character by the name of John Houston his growing up years and going off to school and to the university and then into the military.  The novel continues to show how his life always seemed to revolve around his home and England.  John has many decisions to make that will affect his living through all his days and the experiences he has lived and will be living through.  This is a novel that is like a world tour from England to Africa to India and back to England.  The time period is the 17th century, I believe.  There are many military battles and personal battles that John must learn and survive. 


R. John Thorpe has written a novel that reminded me of a few other British classics. In the description that R. John Thorpe uses on page 15 reminds me of the description used in describing his childhood home and community, and again in the description of his learning the medical craft and in particular anatomy and physiology on page 42.  The life of John Houston is one of excitement and duty in one way or another.  In speaking of the other English literature classics on page 67 "God love you, sir, have you anymore?"  reminded me of a scene from 'Oliver Twist' along with another line from the same book "Please sir may I have some more." Throughout the novel the character of John Houston is the main character that the other characters seem to lean on from his family life to his medical life to his military life. His life seems to be arranged in a neat package the way R. John Thorpe seems to portray him. R. John Thorpe was very descriptive in other various scenes throughout the novel that were medical in nature, for example while in India serving in the military there was a princess who was just about to give birth in a few days or weeks and the way he describes the breech birth and the treatment that was described was quite well done and with such expertise John Houston is a character who is very lucky to survive his many adventures to head back to his homeland that he loved and where he wanted to settle.


This could be a novel that would be good for readers interested in some medical history just for some of the procedures that John Houston performed on his patients.  These were very old procedures and treatments now that were used to make then even though John Houston did not believe for some of these treatments were not be used in a 'sterile field' and still perform his craft.  In the end John came to an understanding of how he made his choices to help his family and peers. 'The Scalpel and the Sword' is a fascinating read and one can learn a lot about having patience in whatever you are doing or planning to do with your life.