Good Reads for Trying Times

Need a couple of good reads for these trying days? The Mallory Saga – Clash of Empires-A Novel of The French & Indian War…Paths to Freedom-Prelude to Rebellion…Crucible of Rebellion – 1775-1778. Follow the exploits of the Mallory family and friends as they participate in the events that changed 13 Colonies into a nation.

The Mallory Saga – Books 1-3

The inspiration to write was, in the beginning, merely to see if I could do it.  I had written short pieces over the years but to tackle a full blown novel was a daunting prospect.  Once the seed was planted I came up with a rough idea of telling the story of three siblings living somewhere in colonial America.  Choosing that general locale was a natural fit for me as I’ve been a lifelong student of American history and I felt that if I was going to write a historical fiction novel, it might be prudent to choose a subject I knew a little about. I picked The French and Indian War as the starting point for what was now becoming a possible series of books that would follow the Mallory clan through the years.  That war intrigued me and I saw a chance to tell the story through the eyes of the Mallory family.  It also provided me with the opportunity to tell the plight of the Native Americans caught up in this conflict.  The French and Indian War paved the way for the colonies to push further west into the Ohio River area.  It also set the stage for the events of the 1770’s.  Britain incurred a huge debt winning that war and looked to the colonies for reimbursement in the form of new taxes and tariffs.  Well, we all know how those ungrateful colonists responded. 

As to the name Mallory – I have a photo hanging on my living room wall of my great grandfather, Harry Mallory.  I got to know him when I was a young boy and was always glad when we visited him.  He lived a good portion of his life in western Pennsylvania which is where much of Clash of Empires takes place.  So, as a gesture to my forebears, Mallory became the name of the family. 

Clash of Empires

In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent that will turn into what can be described as the 1st world war, known as The Seven Year’s War in Europe and The French and Indian War in the colonies.  The Mallory family uproots from eastern PA and moves to the western frontier and find themselves in the middle of the war. It is a tale of the three Mallory siblings, Daniel. Liza and Liam and their involvement in the conflict; the emotional trauma of lost loved ones, the bravery they exhibit in battle situations.  The story focuses on historical events, such as, the two expeditions to seize Fort Duquesne from the French and the fighting around Forts Carillon and William Henry and includes the historical characters George Washington, Generals Braddock, Forbes and Amherst.  The book also includes the event known as Pontiac’s Rebellion in which the protagonists play important roles.  Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the precursor to the events of July 1776; events that will be chronicled in the second book, Paths to Freedom, as I follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.

Paths to Freedom

In Paths to Freedom the children of the three Mallory siblings begin to make their presence known, especially Thomas, the oldest child of Liza and Henry Clarke (see right there, already another family line to follow), but Jack and Caleb, the twin sons of Liam and Rebecca along with Bowie, the son of Daniel and Deborah are beginning to get involved as well. The French and Indian War, the historical setting for book 1, was over, and the Mallory/Clarke clan is looking forward to settling and expanding their trading post village, Mallory Town, now that the frontier is at peace. And for a time they had peace, but the increasing discontent in the East, not so much toward the increasing rise in taxes, but the fact that Parliament was making these decisions without any input from the colonies, slowly made its way west to the frontier. Once again the Mallory/Clarke clan would be embroiled in another conflict.

Another facet of my saga is that the main characters are not always together in the same place or even the same event. In Paths my characters are spread out; some have gone East, some have gone West, some are sticking close to Mallory Town, so in effect there are three stories being told, and that means more plots, subplots, twists and surprises.

One of the aspects of the lead up to The Revolutionary War was the attempt by the British to ensure cooperation with the Native Americans, especially the Iroquois Confederation. The British had proclaimed that they would keep the colonies from encroaching on tribal lands, a strong inducement indeed. However, some tribes, like The Oneida, had established a good relationship with the colonists. I knew right away when I started book 2 that the relationship between the Mallory’s and the tribes would be part of it. Among the historical Native Americans who take part in Paths are the Shawnee Chiefs; Catecahassa (Black Hoof), Hokoleskwa (Cornstalk), Pucksinwah (father of Tecumseh), and the Mingo leader Soyechtowa (Logan).

I also realized that I needed to get someone to Boston, and the Sons of Liberty. Thomas Clarke, the eighteen year old son of Liza and Henry, was the perfect choice for the assignment (mainly because he was the only child old enough at the time). J Through him we meet the luminaries of the Boston contingent of rebels, Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock, and the firebrand of the bunch, Sam Adams. Plenty of history fodder to be had…British raid in Salem…Tea Party…the famous midnight rides…culminating with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Oh yes, plenty of opportunities for Thomas.

An untenable situation arises in Mallory Town resulting in Liam and his two companions, Wahta and Mulhern, finding themselves on a journey to the shores of Lake Michigan and beyond. Driven by his restless buffalo spirit, Liam has his share of adventures; encountering a duplicitous British commander, meeting many new native tribes, some friendly, some not so much. A spiritual journey in a land not seen by many white men.

I ended Paths with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first shots of The Revolutionary War. The flint has been struck; the tinder has taken the spark. Soon the flames of war will engulf the land, and the Mallory clan will feel the heat in the third book, Crucible of Rebellion.

Crucible of Rebellion

The timeline for Crucible is 1775 – 1778. I decided to split the Revolutionary War into two books, mainly because there is so much more action as opposed to The French & Indian War…and because as I was writing, my characters insisted on some scenes I hadn’t previously thought of. J Book 4 of the saga is in the planning stages. Tentative title – A Nation Born.

The three Mallory siblings, Daniel, Liza, and Liam play important parts in CoR, but it is their children who begin to make their marks on the saga. Their youngest son, Ethan, and their daughter Abigail, of Daniel and Deborah travel with their parents to Boonesborough, and reside there with Daniel Boone. The war reaches even this remote frontier, prompting Daniel and Deborah to move further west in search of peace. However, the banks of The Wabash River prove not to be immune to conflict.

Their eldest son, Bo accompanies Liam’s twins, Jack and Cal, first to Fort Ticonderoga, then to Boston with a load of cannon for General Washington’s siege of Boston (the Noble Train of Artillery with Colonel/General Henry Knox). In Boston they meet up with Liza and Henry’s son Thomas, who is no longer a prisoner (can’t say more than that) J, Marguerite, and Samuel Webb.

General Washington has plans for the Mallory boys…plans which see some of them in a few of the more important battles of the war… the escape from Long Island, the surprise attack at Trenton, the turning point battles at Saratoga NY, as well as taking part in numerous guerilla type skirmishes.

A long ways away from the conflict Liam, with Wahta, are living with the Crow along the Bighorn River. Liza and Henry made the trip to Boonesborough with Daniel and Deborah, but do not go with them to The Wabash….they have their own adventures.

Although I write fiction tales, the historical aspect of the saga provides the backdrop. History is often overlooked, or is taught with a certain amount of nationalistic pride, whitewashing controversial events, much to the detriment of humankind. So I hope that what I write might help broaden the reader’s horizon a bit, that what they learned in school isn’t necessarily the whole story. Two main historical topics in the story of America that frequent The Mallory Saga are slavery, and the plight of the indigenous people who have lived here since before the founding of Rome; two historical topics that linger still in America’s story. Entertainment and elucidation; lofty goals for a humble scribe telling a tale.

The Humble Scribe

I am a retired (recently) data center professional. Not that I started out thinking I would spend nearly 50 years working in mainframe computer environments. My major interests, scholastically, in high school, and college were history, and anthropology. The Cuban missile crisis, Bay of Pigs, assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, etc., were some of the events that shaped me, forming the basis for my cynical view of government. One of the results of this “hippie attitude” was that I quit school, and my job, taking a year and a half off to travel a bit, and enjoy life. During that period I began composing the odd poem or song lyric, but I knew in my heart, and from experience writing school term papers, final exams, and the like, that I was a prose writer. My favorite fantasy for my future at the time was to become a forest ranger sitting in some fire watch tower writing the great American novel. Life intervened, however, and I put that dream aside to marry, and raise a family, which meant I needed to be employed, thus decades of staring at computer screens ensued. As time went on, I began writing about the golf trips I took with my buddies. At first they were humor laced travelogues, but now they are fictional tales of my friends; the golf becoming a vehicle for creating a story. Then in 2013, I started writing book reviews, and communicating with authors about the process of writing a novel. My dream to write the great American novel returned.

Well I hope I’ve piqued your interest in American historical fiction, and in particular The Mallory Saga. If so moved, the buy links are below. Crucible of Rebellion will be out soon…you gotta believe I’ll be shouting that out when it happens.

Facebook Page

Mallory Saga WordPress Blog

5 star review – Crucible of Rebellion

I was destined to be a fan of Crucible of Rebellion: 1775-1778, The Mallory Saga Book 3. I love reading books set during the US Revolutionary War, I’m a big fan of multi-generational family sagas, and I enjoyed the first two books in this series.

Sometimes family sagas can be like a three-ring circus. It can be challenging to keep track of a big book with a large cast of characters. In this book, I think a sense of place differentiates the characters for me. The large Mallory family has spread out across the colonies, to Mallory Town, Fort Pitt, Boston, New York, the Ohio Valley, and the wild frontiers beyond. It also helps that the author has provided a cast of characters at the front of the book.

My favorite part of the story was the Ticonderoga storyline, maybe because that historic fort is practically in my backyard (over-exaggeration). The first victory in the Revolutionary War was the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, and the captured cannons played a pivotal role in the unlikely quest for independence from the dominant superpower of the era – Great Britain. The author and his characters, cousins Bo and Cal, brought the transport of cannons to life for me. The camaraderie between these characters made this part of the book especially engaging.

I also really liked the Ethan character and the plotline surrounding Boonesborough on the Kentucky frontier. Ethan is a wide-eyed young man, and seeing this country through his eyes made these scenes sparkle.

The folksy banter is always a high point in the author’s writing. Here are some examples: “I’ll be a suck egged mule;” “Bollocks and damnation;” “Odin’s farts;” “God’s bones;” and “Saints above.” I’m sure the author has researched this language, and I can imagine these characters using this colorful language.

This book reads like a who’s who of the Revolutionary War period. Practically everyone who was anyone at that time is a part of this story. There’s Paul Revere, Sam Adams, Daniel Boone, Tecumseh, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and so on. They’re all here! Clearly, the author is a well-studied expert on the history that goes with this fiction.

In a multi-generational family saga that spans decades, especially during times of war, there’s bound to be painful losses along the way. It is hard to lose characters we’ve grown close to, over the course of hundreds of pages. Such is life and such is fiction.

I recommend Crucible of Rebellion and I look forward to the next historic installment in The Mallory Saga.

Latest review of Clash of Empires – Book 1 of The Mallory Saga

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read; brought this period of American history to life

Reviewed in the United States on April 8, 2021

I love history but the French & Indian War was not an era I was familiar with. This book brought the period to life… learning about this part of our history through the Mallory family was an enjoyable and leisurely read. If you love history, I recommend this book!

How the war almost started in Salem MA 2/26/1775

To commemorate the 246th anniversary of the confrontation known as Leslie’s Retreat – February 26, 1775 – town of Salem – colony of Massachusetts Bay, a bit from Paths to Freedom – Book 2 The Mallory Saga:How the War almost began in SalemEveryone has heard about The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere – scampering through the countryside yelling ‘The Redcoats are coming’. While it is true he did make that famous ride, he was not yelling anything, nor was he the only rider that night. For today’s first posting I will take us back to what might have been on a Sunday morning a month before Paul Revere’s ride; the lesser known confrontation in Salem known as Leslie’s Retreat. For months preparations for possible conflict included the stockpiling of weaponry and ammunition in various towns and villages; Salem being one of them. The British got wind of the activity in Salem prompting General Gage to send Colonel Leslie with 240 troops to raid and confiscate the material. On Sunday morning, February 26, 1775, Leslie and his troops set sail from Boston Harbor, disembarking at Homan Cove near Marblehead MA. From there, it was an easy five mile hike to Salem. Unfortunately for Leslie, Salem knew he was coming, so the easy hike became a gauntlet of angry townsfolk shouting verbal abuse, and tossing rotten fruit at the marching Redcoats. When Leslie finally reached Salem, all he needed to do was cross the North River, thereby gaining access to the contraband weapons. The bridge over the river was a drawbridge; a drawbridge that was raised on the far side from Leslie. He was not happy, and had it not been for the calming words from Reverend Barnard, and the arrival of armed militia groups from the neighboring towns (a harbinger to what will occur at Lexington & Concord), he was prepared to open fire to complete his mission. If he had done that, it would have been a bloodbath, and the war would have been on. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed that morning, and a compromise was reached that allowed Leslie to march across the river; turn around and march back to Marblehead. At least he could report that he crossed the river, but found no stockpiled weapons; stockpiled weapons that had been moved in advance of Leslie’s arrival. This part of the history of The Revolutionary War is especially appealing to me since I live in Salem, and it’s nice to have something other than Witch Trials to be proud of. It also provided me another golden opportunity to add my fictional take on the event – Chapter 10 of Paths to Freedom chronicles the battle known as Leslie’s Retreat. Here’s a snippet:SalemMorning of the 26thBig Dan entered Jedidiah Kenelm Winslow’s tavern looking forward to finally being able to relax. For two straight days he had supervised the moving of 19 cannon, 50 barrels of gunpowder, and the many crates and barrels of muskets, and lead for shot from the various locations in Salem, and dispersed them throughout the nearby countryside. Some weaponry went to outlying farm buildings, some, in the case of crates of muskets, were buried in the woods. The last of the cannons was now being loaded for transport to a farm in nearby Danvers. Leaving Hogan in charge of the last shipment, his only thought was for food and ale. “Whatever you have and plenty of it,” shouted Dan to Jedidiah as he wandered over to sit with Colonel Pickering, “and a mug of that swill you call ale.” “Swill, he calls it,” muttered Winslow to his daughter, Bethany, who was helping her father while the regular serving girl took Sunday off. “Aye, but sure enough he drinks more of it than any other man,” she said loud enough for all to hear, smiling as she plopped the mug down in front of him. “Meaning no disrespect, young miss Winslow,” Dan responded after taking a drink and belching, “it is damn fine swill, and I’ll have another, if you please.” “So, Colonel, we’ve done our job. How’s the militia?” said Dan turning his attention to Colonel Timothy Pickering.Before Pickering could answer the tavern door swung open revealing a slightly breathless Robert Glover. “Colonel Pickering, 240 British troops landed at Homan Cove, and are on their way here,” said Glover taking a mug from Dan, “I reckon we have two hours before they arrive.” “Sneaking bastards, thinking a Sunday morning would find us unprepared, eh? Well they’ve a surprise or two ahead of them,” replied Pickering, “now if you’ll excuse me, I have militia to call out. I’ll head over to North Church; Colonel Mason and Captain Felt will be there. The Reverend Barnard will excuse the congregation, I’m sure. It seems he no longer supports the local Tories. Big Dan, if you would, head over to the drawbridge and see that our side of it is raised? That’s one of the surprises.” Editor’s note – the characters of Big Dan Sinclair and Bethany Winslow are based on my daughter and son-in-law. In the photos – the historical marker where the drawbridge was located on February 26, 1775 – Leslie’s Retreat sign-from a now closed restaurant located near the turnaround spot – sign denoting important personages buried in Broad Street Cemetery, some of whom took part in Leslie’s Retreat – the one time abode of Reverend Barnard.

Crucible of Rebellion Reviews

BOOK REVIEW – By Charles LeFurge“CRUCIBLE OF REBELLION (1775-1778), by Paul Bennett Patriots and Tories and Red Coats, OH MY! Not to mention continued Indian and expanded slave issues as well. Paul Bennett’s third book in the Mallory saga series, Crucible of Rebellion (1775-1778), is his best yet. Paul has become a master as a colonial period historical fiction writer. His weaving of his fictional family (The Mallory’s) with actual historical events and figures in this Revolutionary War period is really magnificent writing. If you enjoyed the compelling historical fiction threads and story-lines of the first two Mallory family saga preludes to revolution period books, then you will surely be impressed with his third in this series covering the war. This book is an even more compelling read as a historical fiction capture of this period. The multiple story lines among the Mallory family and their diverse ties between the expanding colonial frontiers, the antagonism between patriots and Tories, and British incursions on colonial freedoms leading to war, and a history of the evolving war itself is such an extraordinary blend. The most extraordinary of it all is how the author tells this story with characters, language, cultural specific descriptions, and physically challenging daily environmental and human adversary confrontations of the time.Paul Bennett’s ability to combine an abundance of period fictional/historical characters in a manner that feels real, and actual historical culture and history research and knowledge is an awesome writing skill. Some awesome vocabulary of the time in this book I have to mention is: Copse, coulees, curlew, lowing, belaying pin (I always wondered what those things were called), and most certainly the word wended. Paul threads all this among Mallory family, friends, brothers in arms on each side, enemies, lovers, spies, lots of tragedy, real and brutal death and injury, environmental hazards, and simple day-to-day survival challenges that was a real part of this period in American history at the time. Weaving in as well, describing the life challenges of women, children, natives, and slave issues of the time.A great read, and a vivid historical learning experience.


A powerful tale set in a time and place often overlooked. Paul transports you to the beginnings of America, leaving you footsore as you journey with the Mallory’s, into a new world.


Really enjoyed this book, the third instalment of The Mallory Saga.
It’s a bit deeper than the first two, the existing characters have stronger voices, their experiences have hardened them, changed them, forged them into the people they are. The new ones, the next generation of the Mallory family, are intriguing, and I hope we see more of them as the saga continues.

There aren’t many books set in this period of time, and on that side of the Atlantic Ocean, and I think it gives the series a sense of uniqueness. I have nothing to compare it to, I’m unfamiliar with the period, even more unfamiliar with the wars that forged America into a united nation, and that just makes this series a perfect read. It’s sheer escapism, I can plunge myself into a new world, absorb the tastes and smells and escape from the ‘real world’ for a while.

And lets face it, with the sorry state the real world is in right now, what more could I ask from a book?  5 Stars


In Crucible of Rebellion the wonderfully imaginative, yet brutal saga of the Mallory family continues. Just as he did in Clash of Empires and Paths to Freedom Paul Bennett has the ability to put the reader right there into the story. Be it in a battle, in a battle, a fort, on a ship, and especially in the unknown wilderness. One can really feel the cold and fear and often times, the loneliness. This book was hard to put down. If Mr. Bennett is planning a Book 4, once again, I will be first in line. Some 700 pages read and I’m still riveted.


5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling story of a time in American history that has been glossed over and ignored

Reviewed in the United States on December 7, 2020

I have waited to finish book three before reviewing this series. While Book one I felt started a little choppy and I initially struggled the story quickly took shape filled out and started to flow smoothly. I have been binge reading this series since then and have been greatly entertained.


Amazon Buy Links


Snippet from Clash of Empires – The Siege at Fort William Henry

Huritt stormed into the Shawnee encampment, eyes spitting fire, hands clenched tightly on his war lance.  He had been to the French camp, and heard the rumor that the British were going to surrender, and that they would have safe passage out of the fort.  The chances for scalps, captives, and other prizes of war – not to mention the basic thrill of battle – were all to be taken away by these craven French.  Huritt knew Montcalm would approach the chiefs and tell them to not make trouble, but he would not listen to the French or the chiefs.  He would make his own plans; gather those of a like mind from across the tribes assembled, and then dare the French to stop him.

The next morning, Colonel Munro addressed his officers.  ”Gentlemen, we are faced with a hopeless situation.  Our munitions and supplies are dangerously low, our morale is low, and we can expect no help from General Webb, an act of deplorable negligence on his part.  Major-General Montcalm has offered us full honors; officers may keep their side arms, and we and our baggage will be safe.  All other weapons will be stacked up in the fort.  I will not wait any longer.  I will walk out and surrender the fort.  Colonel Doherty will accompany me.”

An hour later, the sun just now cresting the hills to the east, Colonel Munro and Colonel Doherty, with an honor guard bearing a white flag, trotted out of the gate.  Major-General Montcalm, expecting such a move, had already mounted when word came that the British were riding out.  The two parties met in the meadow just west of the fort.  As Doherty scanned the group of French cavalry attending the Major-General, his eyes were drawn to a lone Shawnee brave standing on a hilltop.  “That bloody chap does not have the look of acquiescence about him,” Doherty muttered under his breath.  His attention returned in part to Colonel Munro, who was officially surrendering the fort, but he couldn’t escape the look of that Shawnee.  “I see my death in his expression,” he whispered to himself.

“What was that?” asked Colonel Munro.

“It is nothing, sir, just a moment of private reflection.”  Montcalm saluted Munro, and headed back to his camp.  Colonel Doherty finally turned away from Huritt’s stare, and rode back to the fort, his gaze now falling upon the three men on horseback leaving the militia encampment.

Munro’s troops spent the rest of the day stacking arms under the supervision of a troop of French Marines, and moving the troops from the fort to the larger militia camp.  Timothy, Markus, and Sergeant Mulhern camped in a small valley, between the hills to the east of the camp.  They agreed to take turns watching the militia camp.  Markus had the first watch, but had seen nothing noteworthy; his ears perked up as he heard Timothy climbing the hill to relieve him.  “Nothing going on down there.  I ‘spect it’ll be quiet until morning,” Markus told Timothy as he headed to a well needed sleep.  Timothy found it hard to stay awake through the long and quiet night; he was startled when Sergeant Mulhern tapped him on the shoulder.

“I’d kick you six shades of shite if you was regular army, napping on guard duty,” chuckled Mulhern.  “I presume all is quiet?  Oh, well, now what have we here?”  Mulhern pointed down to the foothills below them, where a large force of Shawnee, Ottawa, Huron, and Ojibway warriors were spreading out on either side of the road out of the camp, keeping to the depressions between the hills so to avoid detection.  “Go and help Markus saddle our horses.  I have a feeling down the back of my neck that we will need to follow the colonel very shortly.”

Colonel Munro led the contingent of regulars out of the gate, followed by Colonel Doherty and the militia.  The baggage and civilians made up the rear as they marched out to the fanfare of drums and military band of the French.  They had barely cleared the gate when they heard the cries of Indians, who began killing the wounded that had been under French care in the fort.  The already somber mood of the British became noticeably tenser, their eyes darting back and forth expecting to see a horde of bloodthirsty savages descending upon them.

On horseback, Colonel Doherty saw them first.  The militia had travelled about 500 yards when they heard a loud war whoop.  The hillside was suddenly alive with tomahawk-brandishing warriors.  Some of them headed to the baggage train to loot it, finding among the valuables a sizable quantity of rum.  Others went straight into the British ranks, indiscriminately killing and scalping, or grabbing men out of the line as captives.  Soon, the 2500 unarmed men and women panicked, and began running, some trampling on the bodies of the fallen and the dead.  The sight of brain matter, the coppery smell of blood, and the loosened bowels caused many to stop and bend over, retching.  The French were quick to react, but were ineffective in quelling the slaughter.  They did manage to put a protective cordon around Colonel Munro, but were too late to help Colonel Doherty.  Doherty had pulled out his saber, using it to club and slash at the hands trying to pull him from his mount.  He had just succeeded in repelling an Ojibway, by cutting off two of his fingers, when he locked eyes on Huritt as he leapt onto the back of the horse while bringing the pipe end of his tomahawk down on Doherty’s skull, knocking him unconscious.  Huritt grabbed him to keep him from falling, and took the reins.  With a victory scream, he galloped away with his prize, heading north to a Shawnee village on the east shore of Lake George.

Colonel Doherty awoke to a sharp pain in his head, finding that he sat lashed to a tree trunk.  His feet and hands were bound together.  He grimaced through the pain, and tried to focus on his surroundings, but his eyes were blurry from the blow to his head.  Soon Huritt came to him, set down a bowl of food, and untied his hands.  “Eat, Colonel. You will need your strength to run a gauntlet in the morning.”  While eating, he reached his hand up to his head, and felt the stickiness of caked blood and an indentation in his skull.  The touch had him almost screaming, but he had made up his mind that he was not going to give Huritt the satisfaction of hearing him suffer; he would go to his death silently.  When he had finished the food, Huritt came over to re-tie his hands. Huritt said nothing while he stared into Doherty’s eyes, thinking to intimidate Doherty.  Doherty stared back, and was about to look away when the sound of a curlew reached his ears.

Timothy, Markus, and the sergeant had taken a position in the hills east of the lake, where they had a good view of the Shawnee camp and Colonel Doherty.  The possibility of rescue, after much debate and with much sadness, was deemed impossible.  The Shawnee camp grew larger as the night wore on, as more and more warriors came into the camp with their captives or with their many scalps.  The constant activity – and the fact that the captives, including Doherty, were held in the middle of the camp – made any rescue attempt a suicide mission.

Sergeant Mulhern had learned to imitate the songs and cries of the birds of his homeland when he was a boy.  Through his years with Colonel Doherty, they had always used the curlew as a means of communicating in the field.  When Doherty heard Mulhern’s bird call, his resolve strengthened. With a grin, he said to Huritt, “You think to gather my warrior spirit and courage by killing me; God’s bollocks you will.  You will get nothing from me but this advice; you are doomed, Snake Slayer will avenge his family and me.  If I were you, I’d head west of the Father of Rivers, and perhaps sleep with your eyes open.  He will find you, and you will die.”  Huritt snarled and rose, his slap to the back of Doherty’s head causing him to spasm with fresh waves of pain.  Still, he did not scream – but he did vomit most of his just-eaten dinner on Huritt’s feet and lower legs.

The Shawnee camp, a temporary one used only during the siege and battle for Fort William Henry, did not contain many women or the older members of the tribe.  This meant that both sides of the gauntlet was manned by young men and warriors, each holding some sort of club or a cluster of thorn-covered boughs.

Huritt led Colonel Doherty to the beginning of the line, and said, “Now we see if you live or die.” He gave him a shove in the back to start him running.

Timothy watched as the colonel, stumbling in a slow jog, was met with a hail of blows to his back, buttocks, and legs.  “Come on, Colonel.  Make it to the end, and you might live through this,” he exhorted.

“I don’t reckon them Shawnee are gonna let him finish,” replied Markus.  “Do you see the size of the bastard at the end of the line?  If the colonel makes it that far without falling or losing consciousness, that beast will stop him.”

Doherty moved as quickly as he could, but did not avoid some of the more vicious hits.  He was soon able to walk only slowly, almost shuffling his feet as he progressed down the line.  His mind was now numb, as fresh bouts of pain took their toll.  He was about three-quarters through the gauntlet, and only with great effort did he move one foot in front of the other.  A glancing blow to his head sent him reeling, but he caught himself before he hit the ground.  A young Shawnee boy then lashed at him with a thorn-laden branch, scraping it down his back and creating several rivulets of blood that streamed down his back and legs as he struggled to right himself.  Somehow, the blow of the thorns digging into his back and sides triggered him into action.  With a roar, he grabbed the boy and using him as a shield moved closer to the end, finally throwing him into the body of one of the last warriors in line.  He glanced up at the only one left. With a cry of rage and his instinct for survival, he launched himself at the large warrior.  Huritt, who was now standing behind the muscular brave, watched with an amused look on his face as the warrior raised one of his ham sized fists and brought it down on the back of Doherty’s head right where the tomahawk had done its initial damage.  The colonel went down, unconscious before he hit the ground.

When Colonel Doherty awoke, he found himself tethered to a pole by a noose around his neck.  His hands were tied, but his legs were free from restraint, allowing him to move in a circle around the pole.  He pushed back the throbbing pain in his head, and willed himself to focus his sight on his surroundings.  A pile of brush and firewood was stacked around the pole, while a five foot radius had been cleared so that the condemned could shuffle about in a vain attempt to avoid the heat and flames.  He looked out at the gathering warriors, and saw the many empty rum barrels scattered throughout the camp.  He vaguely remembered hearing, while he was coming to consciousness, the whoops of drunken men and the beating of drums, but now it was eerily quiet as they all waited for Huritt to light the fire.  To compose himself before his fiery death, Doherty thought back to his last conversation with Sergeant Mulhern, and fervently prayed that his friends were nearby.  He looked up to the hills, and realized that the morning was without even a breath of wind.  He managed a small smile.  His smile grew when he heard the curlew’s distinctive trilling.

Markus had used the pre-dawn darkness to creep down the hillside until he found a covered position behind some boulders.  He estimated that he was about 225 yards from the execution site, and was pleased to note the absence of any wind.  Timothy and Sergeant Mulhern remained at the top of the hill, their muskets loaded and horses saddled.

Growing impatient at the wait, one of the more inebriated Shawnee grabbed the unlit end of a smoldering piece of firewood from the camp fire and entered the ring, intending to inflict more pain on the prisoner.  Doherty backed up as far as he could, until his back was against the pole and waited for his tormentor to get close.  Reaching for a reserve of strength he was not sure that he had, he leaped up and delivered a two footed kick to the Shawnee.  His kick caught him in the groin and sent him sprawling into the brush and logs, where he lay moaning in pain while his fellow warriors laughed.  Huritt picked him up and shoved him out of the way, and lit the bonfire.

Huritt stood back from the growing conflagration as the brush ignited all around the condemned colonel.  He looked for the fear, listened for the begging screams, but Colonel Doherty just stared at him, his face emotionless.  When the heat grew too fierce, Huritt backed away, and joined his warriors who were screaming their approval and their hate.  Doherty felt the hair on his legs begin to curl and singe; his feet began to throw off smoke as he retreated as far as he could.  Then some of the Shawnee with long poles began pushing the burning wood closer to the cut-ta-ho-tha –  the condemned one.  No longer able to hold out, Doherty screamed out, “For God and Saint Andrew, for King and Britain.  MULHERN!”

Markus knew it was time when he heard the Colonel cry out.  He raised the musket, quickly prayed for accuracy, and squeezed the trigger.

Huritt was beginning to feel good about the proceedings, and had even allowed himself a long drink from a rum cask.  His eyes, however, never veered away from his victim.  Just when it appeared that the flames would engulf the pole and the man tied to it, Huritt watched the colonel’s head recoil as if from a blow, while it erupted in a fresh spray of blood, skin, and hair.  He threw down the rum, and looked back to the hillside just as a white man scrambled up from the boulders.  Cheated of the victorious death of his enemy, and realizing that he would not be able to catch the shooter, Huritt bellowed with rage – too many empty rum barrels meant too many warriors unable to take up the chase.

Sergeant Glyn Mulhern saw Markus raise the musket to his shoulder, heard the shot, and watched his friend die – cheating the Shawnee of some of their barbaric notions of glory, honor, courage, and strength.  “Farewell, Colonel, darling, you sheep shagging Scottish bastard.  The Good Lord and Saint Andrew will take care of you now.”  He nodded to Markus as he joined him and Timothy, and handed him the reins to his horse.  With unabashed tears and without looking back, the three rode away.

Reviews from BookBub – Clash of Empires and Paths to Freedom



Meet a young George Washington, a young Daniel Boone, and the charismatic Ottawa tribal leader, Pontiac during the French and Indian War. The real stars of this book are the rugged, frontier family, The Mallory clan. The book opens in 1749. Thomas and Abigail Mallory, with their three children, Daniel, Liza, and Liam move across Pennsylvania with their friends, Pierre Baptiste, and Joseph and Henry Clarke. This book has an enormous cast. The spotlight shines brightest upon Liam who is in his middle teens at the beginning of the book. Unlike his older brother, Daniel, Liam has little interest in farming, settling down, or staying within the confines of settled territory. He spends time among the Mohawk people, marries a chief’s daughter, and turns an enemy into a friend. That friend is Wahta. Despite their wanderlust, scouting, and participation in epic battles, Liam and Wahta find time to help Liam’s brother and sister settle a town that would make their parents proud. The author presents explicit, devastating, brutal, and violent battle scenes, which unfortunately were realistic presentations of reality. This book also features many forts, which gives a sense of having been present at every engagement in the French and Indian War. Unspeakable violence was a part of life in colonial times and the author doesn’t shy away from the awful reality that comes with presenting war. I would have benefitted from getting a stronger connectedness to characters, particularly in the beginning, but also throughout. What are their hopes, dreams, and desires? What makes them different from one another as individuals? What makes them tick? What are their fears and insecurities? I watch for and found grammatical issues, for example, somehow the word dotted appeared as .ted. No matter, I loved this book anyway, and I learned a tremendous amount of history as a result of reading it. I also enjoyed the spiritual components, and I identified with Liam, and his buffalo dreams. That’s my spirit animal as well. Other high points of the book include the camaraderie of the fighting men, and the strength of our founding mothers, and the role they played during colonial times. I read the second book first, then I read this book. Of course, it would be better to read them in order, but either way, I’m so glad to have found the Mallory Saga. I can’t wait for the next installment, so I hope it is coming soon.


Paths final cover

I loved this book, and I’ll be thinking about it for a long time to come. This past weekend we took a long road trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I’ll bet you could guess why we were there. It was fun to hear first hand that we can expect an early spring this year — what a fun slice of Americana. I finished one great book on the way there, and I was looking for another one to bring me home. Fortunately, I had Paths to Freedom downloaded on my phone. I’ve been craving a book just like this one, a great family saga set on the American frontier during colonial times. This book delivered entertainment like a three-ring circus, in a good way of course. In the first ring, Mallory Town, somewhere in western Pennsylvania, a fictional town, but I felt like we passed through it anyway. In the second ring, way out west, as far as the Yellowstone River, and in the third ring, Boston, Massachusetts. It took a while to get acquainted with all the characters. They come from big families, and they have common names like Thomas, James, Henry, Samuel, and John. They are strong and hardy, occasionally irreverent frontier folks who say things like, “You look a tad puckish,” and “I’ll be a suck egg mule.” It felt authentic. I’ve been thinking about the main character or the protagonist of this book. I think maybe each of the three parts has a different lead. More importantly, it is the family that takes that center stage. The brave, strong heroes are convincingly portrayed, but it was the portrayal of the villains that had me on the edge of my seat. An evil greedy preacher. His henchman. And a bloody lobsterback Major. All in cahoots, of course. I fell in love with this book as I read about the portrayal of the battle to reclaim the small town for the settlers who founded it. This book is chock full of famous founding fathers, facts, and geographical locations, just like historical points of interest along the highway on a road trip. This occurred to me as we were approaching Albany, New York on our way home from our pilgrimage to see the world-famous groundhog, at the same time as a character from the book was on his way to Boston, via Albany. I love a good road trip, and I love books featuring great road trips. I’m so glad I followed the Paths of Freedom this weekend. I didn’t read the first book, but I plan to read it as soon as I can. Meanwhile, I can see conflict brewing for Book Three. Colonists versus loyalists, I’m sure.

Clash of Empires:



Paths to Freedom:



Paths to Freedom – a snippet

A snippet from Book 2 of The Mallory Saga – Paths to Freedom – a Coffee Pot Book Club award winner 🙂

Jimmy Two Birds had not visited Mallory Town for a couple of years, due both to his business and to a short illness. Once rotund, he was now much thinner, but not in a haggard way. Indeed, he looked and felt better than he had for years. Halting his horse at the top of the ridge, he looked down to see the children, and thought with surprise how much they had grown. A huge smile played across his face as he watched Thomas squatting on the ground pointing to an animal track while apparently explaining it to Caleb and Bowie. Glancing away to Mallory Town, he was stunned by the growth of this once-small trading post. The original walls he’d helped build were gone, having been removed to make room for the many new settlers finding their way west. The new walls, necessary according to Daniel and Henry, were almost at the limit of their expansion possibilities, due to the terrain and to the rivers at the town’s north and east edges. Farms stretched as far as he could see on the opposite sides of both rivers. Outside the walls stood a mill and blacksmith shop; the interior contained the new church, general store, and many newly-built living quarters (two more under construction). After one last glance at Thomas and his two recruits, now undertaking their perimeter inspection, he urged his mount down the hill and toward the gate.

Liza hugged Two Birds. “This is a most wonderful surprise. It has been too long since you came to call. We heard that you were ill. You look like you’ve recovered.”

“I have,” replied Two Birds while taking a few small packages from his knapsack to hand to Liza. “Some small tokens for the children. Are Daniel and Henry about? I bear news they will be interested in.”

“They are across the Allegheny, helping the Lapley’s clear boulders from a field to build a new barn,” she said, “but I expect them back before dusk. Can you stay for supper?”

“Yes, indeed. I may be skinnier now, but that hasn’t put a damper on my appetite,” he chuckled. “Perhaps I will take a stroll about the town; so much is new. I see that Timothy has expanded his brewery to include a tavern. I think I may visit there first.”

Liza laughed, “Oh yes, you must do that, though be prepared for a possible tongue lashing if any of the faithful see you coming out of that den of iniquity.”

“So, the good Reverend Grantham continues to mold his followers in his own image. More’s the pity. Doesn’t that loud-mouthed distorter of the truth realize that ale is one of the more precious gifts the Good Lord bequeathed to mankind?”

Liza’s smile faded as she answered, “That man is a curse on this town. I will let the menfolk know you are about when they return.”