An adventure set around the American War of Independence.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Sir William Howe commands the Redcoats, but it is Sam Gilpin, a private in his army, whose story intertwines with that of Jonathan Becket, a young rebel with a club foot. They become friends and Sam helps Jonathan to survive a terrible leg wound. Both fall in love with Caroline Fisher. Complicating matters, Christopher Vane, a British officer, falls in love with Jonathan's widowed sister, Martha Crowl. Being a rebel herself, she spurns Vane's advances, and he swears vengeance on her.
In this work, Cornwell is at his best when describing the battles, other military matters, and the milieu in which they occur. He gives a very strong flavor of the times and the country.
Readers who enjoy this work, will also enjoy Cornwell's Sharpe series, for which he is rightly well known. For a less fictional account of the Revolutionary War period, Alan Eckert's narrative history, Wilderness War, is an exciting and accurate portrayal of the campaign against the Indians in the Western New York and Pennsylvania.
The main character Sam Gilpin is a former stable boy turned British infantry soldier. Sam witnesses his brother's execution by the evil Sargent Scammell, a psychotic killer, and wisely decides that soldiering is not for him. Whereupon, Sam accepts a position as a personal servant to Captain Vane who is a social climbing career army officer. Since the British Army does not allow for soldiers to leave the service easily, Sam must somehow survive in this adverse environment. Probably what makes this book unusual is the intercourse between civilians and the military. In Cornwell's other stories you rarely witness discussions between soldiers and civilians.
Cornwell writes great fiction. He certainly had enough material to write a few stories about the revolutionary war but chose instead to write this one book. The way he ends the story it is clear that he intends no sequels, that is a shame because the Revolutionary War would be a natural landscape for his novels to appear. If you like this story I recommend the Sharpe series, especially "Sharpe's Company", "Sharpe's Regiment", and "Sharpe's Eagle". All are great books.