5 stars says Glen Craney

Clash of Empires (The Mallory Saga #1)
by Paul Bennett (Goodreads Author)

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Glen Craney‘s review

Feb 28, 2017
*****
As a boy, I would often visit relatives in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the oldest permanent colonial American settlement west of the Appalachians. My imagination was sparked as I climbed with toy musket across the palisade walls of the famous replica of Old Fort Harrod. That outpost was founded by Virginia trailblazers in the midst of Lord Dunmore’s War, fought in 1774 against the Shawnee and Mingo nations. Many of those first settlers who spent time at Fort Harrod would become etched into American history: Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Simon Kenton, and James Harrod. Most experienced their baptism of fire during the French and Indian War of 1754-1763.

You can, then, understand my delight when I opened Paul Bennett’s fine historical novel and encountered Boone and other historical characters, then young and yet unknown, from my boyhood musings. Clash of Empires follows the travails of the Mallory family throughout that brutal conflict between the British, French, and their Native-American allies. Along the way, we also meet an inexperienced George Washington, a major and later colonel, of the Virginia militia, as he learns the difficult and costly lessons that will inform his generalship during the American Revolution.

In addition to painting the French and Indian War with stark immediacy and chilling detail, Bennett admirably does two things that I see too rarely in historical fiction. First, he seamlessly pulls back periodically from tight POV of his characters to reset the context and situation of the war. For those like me who hunger for a heavy dose of history with our fictional narrative, this is refreshing. Second, he doesn’t neglect the suffering and terror endured by the women and children. The men were often called away from their cabins or precarious forts for military excursions, leaving their families exposed to raids. One cannot read the accounts of these early settlements without questioning how these women managed to remain sane.

This is a highly recommended novel about one of the most fascinating periods of American history. I look forward to the next book in the series, which the author promises will take readers to the Revolution.

A copy of this book was provided to me by the author for an honest review.

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