A Big 5 Star Review

My knowledge of the French & Indian War is, well…non existent! That is to say, it was.

I went into Clash of Empires with a completely open mind, but slightly worried. As a passionate lover of the ancient world, I thought I would struggle to immerse myself in the minds and surroundings this book had to offer.

I was wrong.

This book is terrific, from cover to cover. It follows the story of Liam Mallory, a young man, skilled hunter, expert shot with a rifle. His father is a farmer, veteran soldier from the militia, he longs to return to the life he once had. He will get that opportunity, when his friend, William Trent, offers him the chance to go west, and open a trading post with him. The one downside? This post is slap bang in the middle of contested ground between the two world super powers of the day, the British and the French.

Added to this, the local native tribes face a daily struggle to keep their identity, their own way of life. Most choose to ally with either the British of the French, but some choose their own path. This is where the story really gets brutal, and not for the squeamish!

I’ll give away no spoilers, but it’s needless to say Liam and his family walk right into the thick of it. The author possesses great prose, the violence is not built up slowly, and you don’t see it coming. It’s fast, brutal, and bloody.

I found myself loving the characters of the natives more and more as the story developed, felt their passion and anger toward the two invading nations (and have also developed as obsession with the tomahawk, I need one!)

Needless to say I can’t recommend this enough. If you’ve read and loved The Fort or Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell, this is for you.




A change in focus and Wanda returns from holiday

Well, my peeps and fellow travelers, we here at We Can’t Help It, We’re Morons Creative Authors Inc, have this important announcement. After a brain storming session with my better than average and surging towards excellence staff, it has been decided to shelve the short stories and concentrate on book two. It became apparent that the stories needed a bit more tweaking and it is felt that the time would be better served by working on Sundering. As I plan on adding more short stories about future generations of Mallory’s and Clarke’s this will work out nicely.
As to book two, not much to report…my Muse, Wanda, has been on vacation/holiday, doing an extended walkabout in the Scottish Highlands. She sent me some photos of her sitting atop a heather covered hill, a glass of 30 year old Scotch in her hand and being waited on hand and foot by a trio of bare chested, kilt wearing Scotsmen. She informed me that she was now heading to Maui; she has an urge to compare her kilt wearing entourage with some grass skirted Polynesian warriors..She also hinted I should change genres and do romance novels. You know, the saucy stories of forbidden loves and torrid affairs; the ones with the covers of scantily clad, beautiful women draped in the arms of a totally unrealistic human male form – more like gods than men, they’re Thor, Osiris and Apollo come to earth. Anyway, I abhor the thought of lowering myself to that type of novel…though they do tend to sell very well..NO – Get thee behind me, thou foul thought!! But wait, I could write under a pen name – yeah, Ocho Maximus and his scintillating, titillating and very popular series – Frontier Loves. The first volume, My Mohawk Lover, the story of the 30 year old wife of a Congregationalist minister and her torrid affair with a younger Mohawk brave during the turbulent French and Indian War.
I will resist, methinks…and now, back to book two. 😎

I do want to add that I haven’t been totally negligent in the writing department…have written quite a few book reviews lately…if you care to peruse, the link is:

Wonderful review

Clash of Empires Paul Bennett

As a child, one of my favourite TV shows was The Last of the Mohicans. I was, therefore, excited to find a book set in a similar time and place, one which is not often written about. Paul Bennett’s debut novel is a great, page-turning read. He takes us back to a frontier which was wild, beautiful and dangerous. His descriptions of the landscape are a lovely combination of the detailed and the poetic which seems entirely appropriate; I was swept away by it.

The story is based on the experiences of people, Europeans and native Americans, who were forced to live in close proximity, something which would be difficult at the best of times. This was one of the worst of times; when Britain and France were engaged in a deadly struggle for empire. Bennett is adept at allowing us to enter the different worlds of his characters, often by sharply defined dialogue which makes his characters memorable. He avoids over-simplistic stereotyping. There is plenty of good and evil in people of every race and affiliation.

As well as a host of interesting characters there is plenty of action. The battle scenes were appropriately gory but without a bunch of superman slogging it out for hours. None of this action was gratuitous; for example, [content deleted to avoid spoiler] was the engine for his grief and desire for revenge.

This is a well-researched, epic of a novel and I look forward to reading more of his novels.

Review of Clash by Rosie Amber’s team

I chose to read this book for Rosie’s book review team because my knowledge of the French and Indian Wars is limited to what I learned reading The Last of the Mohegans by James Fennimore Cooper and Northwest Passage by a Maine author I revere: Kenneth Roberts. I hoped to increase my knowledge with Clash of Empires and the book did not disappoint.
This first book, The Mallory Saga, is modestly described as follows: “In 1750, the Mallory family moved to the western Pennsylvania frontier, seeking a home and a future. Clash of Empires reveals the harrowing experiences of a colonial family drawn into the seven-year conflict between the British and French for control of the continent – the French and Indian War.”
What an understatement this blurb is! The book is so much more, populated by three-dimensional characters, embedded in a story that has you on the edge of your seat wondering when the next tomahawk will fall, and stimulating me to do a little more reading on the various historical events.
By 1754, both the British and the French were well established in the ‘New World,’ and families from England were encouraged to go there for a better life, with the promise of land. Both France and Britain ignored the fact this land was already inhabited by many Native American tribes, treating them more or less like wayward children, plying them with gifts or promises never kept to pay them for their land. The Mallory family from Ireland is already established in Eastern Pennsylvania, when Thomas decided to move his family to the western frontier. At this time, the frontier is just west of the Allegheny mountains and in French- controlled territory. They establish a trading post on the Kiskiminetas River, a tributary of the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania. Hard to think of western Pennsylvania as wilderness!
Mallory brings friends with him, all of them interesting, and the author draws the reader into the harshness of life on the frontier, especially with rumors swirling of raids by the French and their allies, the Shawnee, to destroy British forts and English settlements. The Mallory family – daughter Liza and sons Daniel and Liam – each have a story line that winds in and out of strategic events that marked this period. There are losses of people along the way to the brutality of war at that time, and I found myself grieving right along with the other characters. The main story line concerns Liam, a wanderer by nature, who is adopted by a Mohawk tribe and marries the chief’s daughter. He acquires two mortal enemies amongst the Shawnee, much like Hawkeye’s deadly enemy Magua in The Last of the Mohegans, and his story is one of anger and revenge.
From this novel comes a comprehension of the vast and different tribes of Native Americans and one can’t help but wonder how different the story might have been if there had been any respect and understanding of their cultures. The reader also gets the sense of the early beginnings of this country, and the courage of settlers to put their lives on the line for the promise of a better life for their families.
The history is excellent, weaving in the events of the war and historical figures – such as the young George Washington, Daniel Boone, and the British Generals Braddock and Munro – to create a real world, worth visiting.
I very much look forward to the next novel in this series.