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Publisher's Summary

In this riveting novel of the French and Indian War, master storyteller Harold Coyle takes us back to a time when America's vast riches were up for grabs. From 1754 through 1759, British and American colonial forces were locked in constant battle with the French and their Indian allies over the great territories of the Ohio Valley. For British army captain Thomas Shields, the war is an opportunity for fame, but the untamed wilderness he finds himself in defies all his expectations of the battlefield.

For Scottish rebel Ian McPherson, serving in the English army is a punishment, but America offers the chance to secure some land of his own. And for idealistic young French officer Anton de Chevalier, the savage battle tactics of his Indian allies will forever change his understanding of war. Coyle draws on extensive research and his own military experience to create this stunning portrayal of life and death on the battlefield.

©1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Well Worth the Trip

From Harold Coyle, a former US Army tank officer and author of Team Yankee, comes this highly ambitious novel of The French and Indian War. Predating the American Revolution by almost two decades, it was considered by some to be a relatively small theater of the Seven Years War. Often recognized as the first true World War as France and England fought across the globe on land and sea to assert dominance over fiercely contested colonial possessions. The North American theater was the crucible that decided for good and all who was master of the new world.
The story follows three very different and unique players in this desperate endeavor: a Scottish expatriate banished to the colonies following his clan’s massacre in the Jacobite Rebellion, a cunningly ambitious British officer who feels war and ambition are not mutually exclusive , and a soft spoken French artillery officer who rises to the bloody occasion because the nature of war dictates nothing less.
There is a lot to like and admire about this novel. Well executed historical fiction can bring the subject alive with an immediacy and humanity that can sometimes be lacking in non fiction. Coyle succeeds magnificently not only through his command of prose, but his expert attention to historical detail. The battles are fierce, uncompromising, and at times truly terrifying. This is a novel that understands war on the frontier and the loose alliances that made this war so unique.
The problem I ran into with this novel is that it’s ambition often seemed beyond its own ability to grasp. There’s simply too much going on with too many main characters. Neither of the three characters, who are fascinating and unique, seem to have enough time in this novel to properly flesh out their stories. We jump back and forth, in location, time, and characters. By trying to take on three, Coyle doesn’t quite pull off any of them. Their paths occasionally mingle and cross but parts of Savage Wilderness seem to exist almost in a different story. I liked these characters, but I didn’t love them. The potential to develop a deeper bond is there, but were frustratingly just out of reach for me. There is also a side story about a particularly brutal Indian in a tribe allied to France that offers very little precious insight into his character. This side story ends in a very abrupt and slightly bizarre dead end. He just disappears never to return, begging the question, why was this included in the novel if it was destined for nowhere?!
I really liked this one, but I didn’t love it. I very much admire the attempt to create a sprawling epic about a time and events so pivotal to the creation of America. It doesn’t succeed in this respect, but major points for such an exciting and interesting attempt. The characters deserved a much more robust story arch. There is more than enough raw material here to have made this into a trilogy. Cramming so much and so many characters in one book left me a little disappointed and not quite satisfied. I highly recommend Savage Wilderness regardless, it’s truly well worth your time and effort.

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Outstanding!

The author caught the historical time and people and made me feel as though I was there. It would make a great movie or series. I’d like more of the same. Narrator was excellent as well.