History has ruled the battle of Essling near Vienna to be Napoleon’s first major European defeat on land. Within two days 40,000 men perished and the tone was set for Napoleon’s long, slow descent into eventual exile. The Battle is an incredible work of historical fiction by Patrick Rambaud. This novel examines how Napoleon might have reacted in the moment of battle amidst the horror and violence. Filled with real characters such as Marshals Berthier, Lanne and Massena and the writer Stendhal, this novel is a captivating read that offers an interesting perspective on the great French militarist.