A history lesson in novel form … And a great read…
What do you do when the person you have loved in secret since your schooldays finds happiness with another, leaving your heart bereft and your future a bleak, lonely prospect?
For Harry Smythe-Vane, junior officer serving in the British army at the end of the failed campaign to rescue Gordon of Khartoum from the Mahdist siege of 1885, finding childhood friends Richard and Edward united in love spells the end of a dream he knows was doomed from the start—more so, a dream condemned by society at large: the love of two men for each other.
Harry must now pluck up the courage to pursue an uncertain quest for an elusive new soulmate—his great trek to attain fulfillment.
From dangerous missions on India’s wild North-West Frontier to the deserts of Sudan, Harry forges a career and experiences fleeting friendships, but when a spell of leave takes him to London his heart is struck. He meets his almost-forgotten godson Jolyon Langrish-Smith, a troubled teenager in Oscar Wilde’s louche circle. It’s an encounter that pitches Harry headlong on a turbulent journey of emotional involvement, of hurt and joy.
Painting a vivid panorama of the British Empire at its height, with its multi-faceted but rigid society hovering on the brink of change, Harry’s Great Trek is an epic saga of love and war—alive with an engaging cast of the humble and the famous, the honorable and the scoundrels—which climaxes in 1900 amid the carnage of the Boer War. There Harry’s future is decided as one quest ends and a new journey begins…
Review by Gerry Burnie
One of the most grievously overlooked genres in GBLT fiction is ‘the gay adventure story’. That is not to say there are none. There are – and good ones, too – but they are few and far between.
One of the best writers in this genre is Roger Kean, and his latest offering Harry’s Great Trek (The Empire Series #3) [Reckless Books, February 1st 2015] is proof positive of this estimation.
His Empire Series has taken us through the hot spots of Imperial Britain’s golden age of domination and plunder (always for ‘their’ own good, of course.) Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourite eras for an overall commitment to ‘God and Empire’. It is probably the last example of a people willingly committed to a state that was ‘politely’ corrupt and exploitive, through-and through.
The blurb provides as good a synopsis of the story as I could write; therefore, I will contain my comments to some of the highlights as I see them.
First of all, I like the cover art and design by Oliver Frey. It has a rugged, masculine look about it that suits this type of novel. With a few notable eceptions, adventure novels tend to be written by male authors, and so anything less rugged wouldn’t have met my expectations.
I also love Kean’s choice of names, i.e. Harry Smythe-Vane, and Jolyon Langrish-Smith. How delicious zany! I have often observed that authors don’t give enough attention to names – especially historical names – but these certainly do add a ‘stuffiness’ to the era that fits.
The introduction of certain celebrities of the day – especially young Winston Churchill – added a whole new dimension to the already interesting historical events. There are also some who also say that Baden-Powell had an interest in boys beyond scouting, and so these characters can add wonderful fodder to a story.
The writing is, of course, top notch (if, perhaps, a bit over-expansive), and so I am going to award this novel with a five-bee rating.
Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 77,162
Interested in Canadian history?
Want to learn more? Then visit my new page: In Praise of Canadian History. It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Louis Cyr… The ‘strongest man in the world.’
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A tender story of coming together and recuperation.
Cade Bishop is a 22-year-old sophomore at Duke University. He has a brilliant mind, but he’s behind his peers due to a horrific incident that happened on the night of his high school senior prom. It took him two years to recover.
Alan Troxler joined the Marines right after Nine-Eleven and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, until an IED abruptly ended his military career. “Retired” at age 30, Alan has come home to North Carolina to start a new life.
These two are an unlikely couple at best—each is determined to make it on his own, and neither wants to be coddled. Together, they put their own unique stamp on a classic Hurt/Comfort tale. Life can get complicated, and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s hurt, and who’s giving comfort…
Review by Gerry Burnie
I fear my comments are brief, this evening. I am in the middle of preparing for my annual migration south, tomorrow, and I still have a myriad of things to do. However, I did want to commemorate Remembrance Day with a novel that did it justice, and I think I have found just the thing.
I chose Raising Cade, by Brett Jones [Jonathan Penn, 1 edition, November 4, 2014] because it was about the aftermath of ward, and the coming together of two ‘wounded’ people: even though one of them had never been to war.
It spoke of tenderness, and the fulfilling of a need that both men sought in different ways.
The writing is solid, and the character development is progressive and credible. Both very well done.
There are a few things that I would like to have seen done differently, but it is otherwise are tender story of coming together and recuperation. Four bees.
Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 73,927
Interested in Canadian history?
Want to learn more? Then visit my new page: In Praise of Canadian History. It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Sir Isaac Brock – Canada’s Hero
Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!
Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.
In Their Own Words: Canadian stories of valour and bravery from Afghanistan. 2001-2007 (Free download)
Free Download – Pass it on for our troops…
In Their Own Words: Canadian stories of valour and bravery from Afghanistan. 2001-2007, edited by Craig Leslie Mantle, CPO2 Paul Pellerin (Ret’d), Tom Douglas, Justin Wright & Mélanie Denis [Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2013], vividly presents the personal accounts of twenty-three Canadian soldiers who have been recognized with some of the nation’s highest honours for their courageous actions in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2007. This groundbreaking book offers profound insight into the daily challenges faced in the field, the hazards of combat, the trials and rewards of military service, and the “mind of the soldier.” By recounting the circumstances under which he earned his decoration, each recipient, in his own voice, provides a positive example of the many values that the Canadian Forces itself cherishes: duty, loyalty, integrity and courage. Whether engaging the enemy, saving the life of a fellow soldier from certain death or preventing civilian casualties, the experiences recounted within these pages are nothing short of inspiring and deserving of the highest possible respect.
FREE. Download a PDF copy for free at: https://workspaces.acrobat.com/?d=Mcr-r0OY-OwXUSK3aSYbAA. [Note: the Workspaces page shows only a preview of 50 pages, but when downloaded the full 419 pages are delivered.]
A Canadian Soldier
Do not cry for me,
For I am a Canadian soldier.
Guardian of “The True, North, strong and free”,
Ambassador of the “Red Maple Leaf”.
I know that, what I had of freedom,
All I used or knew,
Is what our father’s
Fought for us long ago.
I did not give
That freedom away or,
Have someone take it away
By force or law.
You hold in your hands
The most precious of gifts.
Freedom to love and express art.
Freedom to be who you want to be.
Freedom is a package deal.
With it comes responsibilities and consequences.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Do not make our sacrifice, one in vain.
I join God knowing,
I fought for my fellow man’s freedom.
My duty complete,
Yours to carry on in memory.
For now my mother is crying,
And criticism of our mission arises.
Question not, but always remember,
For I am a Canadian soldier.
Sgt. M.J.Watts, November 22, 2010
Visit my new page, In Praise of Canadian History: A bibliography of interesting Canadian books and authors, and facts you may not know about Canada..