The Military Philosophers (1968) is the ninth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time.
Immediately preceded by The Valley of Bones (1964) and The Soldier's Art (1966), The Military Philosophers (1968) concludes the three books which cover the World War 2 years. These three books are right up there with Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh- there is, as you probably realise, no higher accolade.
In this volume, narrator Nick is now working for Allied Liaison, as Pennistone's assistant under Lieutenant Colonel Finn, responsible for relationships with Allied and neutral military missions in London which revealed an aspect of World War 2 that I had never really considered before and which also heralds the introduction of many new characters.
In addition to the new characters, we also encounter many familiar characters from previous volumes, and The Military Philosophers contains dramatic new developments for many of them.
Despite the inevitable and predictable tragedies that result from the war years, the book also contains some splendid humour, not least the marvellous description of uber-bureaucrat Mr Blackhead, and his superlative bureaucratic obstructionism. What a delight. I had to read the pages aloud to savour every nuance.
Perhaps the most interesting new character is Pamela Flitton, the niece of Charles Stringham, who is the ultimate femme fatale and who makes some fascinating liaisons throughout the book and is responsible for many of the book's most memorable moments.
The books ends with a victory service at St. Paul's cathedral, to mark the end of the War, shortly after which Nick Jenkins is demobbed. Having now read nine of the twelve books I cannot wait to see what peacetime has in store for the characters that feature in the A Dance to the Music of Time series.
As with every other book in the A Dance to the Music of Timeseries, The Military Philosophers is beautifully written and a multi-faceted story that both delights and intrigues.