Monday 9 December 2019

#BookReview — Paths to Freedom (The Mallory Saga #2) by Paul Bennett #HistoricalFiction #America @hooverbkreview

Paths to Freedom
 (The Mallory Saga #2)
By Paul Bennett

The French and Indian War is over, but the aftermath widens the gulf between the colonies and King George III. A hard handed approach by the King and Parliament fuels the flames of resistance; flames that soon engulf the Mallory clan, consuming the frontier, shattering their hopes for Mallory Town, and changing their lives forever. Revolution is nigh.

"It is time for The Sons of Liberty to show the British the seriousness of our resolve...."

The French and Indian War may well be over, but the debt remained, and someone has to pay for it. Parliament believed it was down to the colonies to bear their share of imperial defence. However, there were some in America who dared to disagree.

For the Mallory brothers, the King and his Parliament were the least of their concerns. Their concerns lay much closer to home and could be summed up by one name — Reverend James Grantham. But even they did not know the extent Grantham was prepared to go to achieve his aims.

As Reverend Grantham tightens the noose around the Mallory family, The Sons of Liberty make their secret revolutionary plans against the British. War was now a whispered promise on the horizon, and the Mallorys would feel the sting of it...

From the apparent tranquillity of Mallory Town, the endless grassland surrounding the Bighorn River, to the weather-worn decks of the ageing warship HMS Jersey, Paths to Freedom (The Mallory Saga #2) by Paul Bennett is the evocative and unforgettable story of one family in the days that were to lead up to the American Revolution.

In Clash of Empires: A Novel of the French Indian War (The Mallory Saga #1) Bennett presented his readers with an intimate retelling of the colonial wars, the likes of which I have not come across since reading James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans many years ago. I have been waiting with eager anticipation for the next book in what promised to be a fabulous series. But what I wasn't expecting was this feeling of absolute reverence as I turned that last page, read that last sentence and noted that final full-stop. Paths to Freedom (The Mallory Saga #2) exceeded anything that I expected. It is, without a doubt, one of the most moving and most compelling historical fiction books that I have ever read.

Set in a wild and untamed backdrop that would rival Michael Blake's Dances with Wolves, Paths to Freedom encompasses everything about this era and the people that lived through it. From a small frontier town to the hustle and bustle of Boston, Bennett has captured this historical world with all the elegance and skill of a master bard. The narrative is shamelessly compelling. Bennett is, without a doubt, a vivacious storyteller. This is an enthralling account of an extraordinary period in American history.

Bennett's skill as an author and his tenacious resolve to tell this story the way he wanted to tell it has to be commended. There is a vast cast of characters in this book, but not once did I feel confused as to who everyone was. I did not need to look at the cast list at the front of the book. Bennett has portrayed all of his characters with an almost tangible realism. There was no way, under Bennett's skilful narrative that I was going to confuse who was who. I have to praise Bennett for such a thing as this is terribly challenging to pull off, but he has done it, and he has done it very well. This book is what historical fiction is all about.

There are several notable characters in this book. Liam Mallory, Otetiani to the Mohawk and Snake Slayer to others, was one of my favourite characters in Book #1 and this continued into Book #2. Liam suffers terrible personal loss in this book, and the buffalo once again haunts his dreams. He has to leave his family and his home if he has any chance of finding himself again. Liam's portrayal from start to finish is sublime. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but in the latter half, Liam has an encounter with a buffalo herd, which for me confirmed why I hold Bennet's writing in such high regard. It is a beautifully portrayed scene and utterly unforgettable.

There are several antagonists in this story, and each has their part to play. But the portrayal of Reverend Grantham is the most memorable. Grantham is an ambitious yet evil man who uses God as a weapon to manipulate his congregation and therefore, the town. He makes them submissive, tells them lies, points accusing fingers, to make them fear him and make them comply. The only ones who are not taken in by Grantham are the Mallorys. They see him for who he actually is and Grantham hates them for that. I thought Grantham's portrayal was fabulous. This is an antagonist that the reader can really hate. I loathed him, which I am sure is exactly what Bennett intended all along.

We are introduced to the wonderful escaped slave, Bert Sawyer, in this book. I adored Sawyer. He is a very strong, proud man, who has vowed he will never be a slave again. His relationship with the Mallorys was profoundly moving, and as this story progresses his trust in human nature is restored. This is a character I really loved reading about.

One more character I have to mention is Marguerite Edgerton. Marguerite has more reason to hate the British than anyone, and she is determined to rid them from her country. I loved Marguerite, she is brave, clever, very good at deceiving those she wants to, but at the same time she is very loyal to those she loves. I am really looking forward to reading more about her in the upcoming book.

The portrayal of The Sons of Liberty was majestic. They fought back against what they saw as unfair taxation. There was no way the colonists could represent themselves in Westminster, and therefore how could they oppose this taxation if they did not have a say in it in the first place. Each small step of rebellion, of course, led to what was to become a revolution. Bennett captured the frustration of the key historical characters during this period of history. I thought he brought them all masterfully back to life and I enjoyed reading about their secret meetings and their determination not to be ignored by the King and his Parliament — even if that did mean playing host to a rather famous tea party!

I cannot express adequately in words how great this book is. Bennett has penned a story with an impressive sweep and brilliance. Book #3 cannot come soon enough.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
Paths to Freedom

Paul Bennett

Paul’s education was of the public variety and when he reached Junior High he discovered that his future did not include the fields of mathematics or science. This was generally the case throughout his years in school as he focused more on his interest in history; not just the rote version of names and dates but the causes. Paul studied Classical Civilization at Wayne State University with a smattering of Physical Anthropology thrown in for good measure. Logically, of course, Paul spent the next four decades drawing upon that vast store of knowledge working in large, multi-platform data centers, and is considered in the industry as a bona fide IBM Mainframe dinosaur heading for extinction. Paul currently resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, Daryl. The three children have all grown, in the process turning Paul’s beard gray, and have now provided four grandchildren; the author is now going bald.

For more information, please visit the Mallory Saga Facebook page. You can also find Paul on his BlogTwitter, and Goodreads.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx