The Long Road To War

It feels like we’ve been commemorating the outbreak of the Great War for a long time. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was marked over a month ago but the outbreak of the war that this triggered is not yet upon us. As one commentator said recently, the war had a rolling start. It was a World war – or, at least to begin with, a European one – and was the culmination of a chain of events, each of whose significance will depend on where you live.

In these islands, we may not have marked Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia (July 28) nor Germany’s declaration of war on Russia (August 1), nor even the German declaration of war on France, (August 3) – although these are all important events that helped drag the continent closer and closer to all out war.

For us, the most important link in the chain is not the last (the final declaration of war won’t be for another three weeks, or three years if you include America’s entry) but it is, perhaps, the one that tipped the balance past the point of no return.

On August 4, Germany issued an ultimatum to neutral Belgium, demanding to be allowed to pass through their territory in order to outflank the French armies forming to meet them. Britain, which guaranteed Belgian neutrality under a treaty that went back to 1839, in turn issued an ultimatum to Germany, threatening war if they refused to back down from Belgium. Germany refused and so Britain’s declaration of war came into effect at midnight, central European time, on Tuesday August 4, 1914.

The last of the great European powers had joined the fray. There would be no going back.

The Final Part of The Soldier's Song

The final part of the acclaimed Soldier’s Song trilogy is now available in all bookshops and online.
The Soldier’s Farewell brings to a close the epic tale that was begun in The Soldier’s Song. This is a story about two brothers, played out against the political and military upheavals that racked Ireland in the 1920s. The Anglo–Irish Treaty brings the war with the British to a close, but a new war is emerging and Stephen finds himself once more called upon as a soldier. Assassinations and guerrilla warfare are the backdrop to the call to arms, as both sides attempt to force a new order.

‘Monaghan is at his best when he veers … into Bernard Cornwell territory. His descriptions of action are lucid and exciting, evoking the tension of the cat-and-mouse manoeuvres of snipers, and simplifying the chaos of small-scale skirmishes … Entertaining’ -- Sunday Times

‘An impressive achievement… a cleanly written, well paced and confident narrative... a skilfully told historical saga’ -- Irish Examiner

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The Soldier’s Farewell on

The Soldier’s Farewell on

Festival du Premier Roman

That’s the festival of the first novel to you and I. It’s held every year in the town of Chambéry in the Savoie department of south-east France and this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate on the strength of my first novel The Soldier’s Song.
So I got to spend a wonderful June bank-holiday weekend in Chambéry, giving readings, taking part in translation workshops and helping to celebrate the 25th year of this unique festival. One of the highlights was taking part in a public discussion on the war novel with
Prix Goncourt winner Alexis Jenni and another was a slightly soggy but still good fun garden party at Les Charmettes, the house of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. My only regret is that, due to the very nature of the festival, you can only be invited to participate once!

Visit the website of
Festival du Premier Roman (in French)

Watch my video presentation on
what it means to write your first novel