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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087T5DWRB?ref_=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tkin&binding=kindle_edition

In 2021 Resolve to read The Mallory Saga 😊

If your New Year’s resolutions include reading more excellent historical-fiction, I humbly submit The Mallory Saga – colonial American family and the birth of a nation.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087T5DWRB?ref_=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tkin&binding=kindle_edition

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

https://www.facebook.com/mallorysaga

Mallory Saga WordPress Blog

https://clashofempires.wordpress.com/

Reviews from BookBub – Clash of Empires and Paths to Freedom

 

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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:

Kindle

Paperback

Paths to Freedom:

Kindle

Paperback

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.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087T5DWRB?ref_=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tkin&binding=kindle_edition

Crucible of Rebellion – snippet from the Epilogue

It was shortly after the official surrender of General Burgoyne to General Gates, Colonel Morgan being the only member of The Curs attending, that the Colonel received new orders from General Washington. He was pinned down in New Jersey and ordered Morgan’s regiment to join him as quickly as possible. However, the General needed The Curs somewhere else. They spent Christmas in Philadelphia, taking a couple of weeks to recuperate from their various wounds, and from the plain fatigue from travel and battle. Colonel Morgan only stayed two days before leading his regiment to Washington’s winter camp. He provided a veritable feast for The Curs his last night there including plenty of ale, cider and wine. Many toasts were raised for their fallen, and for the victories they helped secure. At the end Colonel Morgan offered one final toast, “Gentlemen, I’m not usually given to sentimentality, but in this case it is warranted for two reasons. In all my years of leading men in battle, this group is the best I’ve ever had the honor to serve with. So, parting ways leaves a large hole in my command. But, and this is not to be spoken of outside this room, there will be some changes in command soon, and changes in strategy. However, I have been passed over again for promotion to General by those imbeciles in The Continental Congress, and I will be resigning from the army.”

Crucible of Rebellion Reviews

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

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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.

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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.

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Amazon Buy Links

Kindle

Crucible of Rebellion – Boonesborough

Chapter 10 – Boonesborough

March 1776 – April 1777

Ethan looked out from the walls of Boonesborough watching a group of hunters returning from the day’s hunt. Once again he was amazed at how abundant this wilderness was. He counted four deer, a bear, three turkeys, and a brace of rabbits being dragged along on a travois. He was also reminded of how dangerous a place was this wilderness as he spied another travois bearing one of the hunters with an arrow sticking out of his leg. He fixed his gaze on the wounded man trying to determine who it was. His father, Daniel, and his uncle Henry were part of the hunting party. The man’s face finally came into view and to his relief it wasn’t either of them, it was one of the slaves. However, when he scanned the rest of the group, neither one was there. Then a musket shot rang out from the woods behind the returning group, and Ethan saw Daniel and Henry come racing out. Daniel was reloading on the run. Henry stopped long enough to fire his gun, causing the band of Shawnee to slow their pursuit. Out of the gate to the settlement a trio of armed men came out to cover the hunters. They were joined by two women, Deborah Mallory, and Liza Clarke, both wielding loaded muskets. The hunting party reached the gate; Daniel and Henry close behind when the Shawnee opened fire. Daniel felt one ball pass by his head. Henry was stunned for a second as two balls hit the ground just behind him, his legs stung by the scattering stones. As they passed them, the five defenders returned fire, wounding two warriors. The Shawnee gathered them up and retreated back to the woods.

“My God, Daniel,” said Henry after catching his breath, “if those Shawnee ever learn to shoot a moving target, we’ll be in a world of trouble.”

5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful narrative of a little-acknowledged war

Despite having read Drums Along the Mohawk long ago, I’d nearly forgotten that the French and Indian War wasn’t between the French and the Indians. It was between the French and the British for control of the American West, which at that time meant virtually everything beyond Philadelphia. Much of the suffering in this war was by proxy, with French-allied Indian tribes fighting the encroachment of British-backed settlers.

CLASH OF EMPIRES, which begins in 1749, focuses on the Mallory family as they trek across Pennsylvania to settle on a tributary of the Allegheny River. Keeping straight the many members of this extended family group is a little tricky at the outset, but as the tale continues, their personalities become distinct. (A list of characters and a map are included.) The story kicks into gear when Liam Mallory, the family’s younger son, is adopted by a nearby tribe of friendly Mohawk, saves the life of a warrior who will become his constant companion, and falls in love with the tribal chief’s daughter.

Liam’s family cheerfully welcomes his native wife, Orenda, into their little settlement. But everything changes when a band of Shawnee led by the vicious Chogan attack the compound. Liam returns from a hunting trip to find Orenda and their unborn child brutally murdered. His hunger for revenge—first on Chogan, then on the equally savage Huritt—will drive him through the coming years as he joins a young Colonel George Washington in fighting a coalition of tribes forged by the Ottawa chief Pontiac, who is determined to free their ancestral lands from settlers and British garrisons.

Author Paul Bennett skillfully balances the viewpoints in this fateful struggle: native tribes who favor peaceful coexistence but must keep retreating; other tribes fired up (often by French incentives) to slaughter the incomers; overconfident British commanders ignorant of guerrilla warfare; and the settlers themselves, eager to make their own way in a boundless land free of oppressive taxes and religious mandates.

Bennett’s command of this frontier world, and particularly of the Indian point of view, is impressive. I was grabbed as soon as Liam enters the camp of the Mohawk, and the story held me completely in its power from then on. Told through mini-scenes that alternate with longer, action-packed passages, it’s an immersive read. A copyeditor’s polishing would add to the novel’s authority, but as the first in a planned trilogy that will eventually take the Mallorys into the War of Independence, its even-handed description of this bloody prequel to the Revolution is outstanding.

Crucible of Rebellion

Book 3 of The Mallory Saga – A brief synopsis

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

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 Boonsborough and reside there with Daniel Boone. The war reaches this remote frontier, prompting Daniel and Deborah to move further west in search of peace. However, even the banks of The Wabash River prove not to be a barrier to the 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 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 Boonsborough with Daniel and Deborah, but do not go with them to The Wabash….they have their own adventures.