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Friday 16 May 2014

FFB - Jack Absolute - a new historical hero

Jack Absolute (2004) is the first in a trilogy of books by C.C. Humphreys. The period of the American Revolution – and in particular the year these events take place, 1777 - is filled with adventure and intrigue, when the English troops and the rebels recruited Native Americans to their cause. And of course the French, still smarting at being bested in Canada, are only too keen to side with the rebels to wrest the colony from the Crown. It is a time when colonial families are split, some being loyal to the Crown while others want freedom. Into this powder-keg strides a new and most welcome hero, Jack Absolute.

Jack has an interesting history, although we only snatch a few glimpses of it in this eponymous novel, which promises to be the first of a series. Several years before the events in this book, Jack was captured then adopted by the Iroquois, learning their language and way of life. Now, he is recruited to rally these warriors to the Crown’s cause.

Unfortunately, there’s a spy in the English army and Jack must also find this spy and kill him.

Well-researched, exciting and a quick read, Jack Absolute contains plenty of ingredients to keep your interest. Clearly knowledgeable about sword-play, Humphreys inflicts a London duel on his hero at the beginning of the story and this contest echoes and haunts Jack even in the new continent. Canadian author Humphreys is an actor and it was while playing Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s The Rivals that he became captivated by the character. The man wouldn’t let him be, so eventually he conceded and this adventure is the result. Thus Jack returns from adventuring in India to find his name and earlier exploits have been used by Sheridan in his new play...

There are apt literary allusions, a poignant love story, believable and vicious fighting, humour and irony and a magnificent foil for Jack in the guise of his Native blood-brother Até.

Discovering this character reminds me of those long-ago heady and exciting days when I first found Cornwell’s early Sharpe novels. Jack Absolute has that same page-turning quality and definitely provides sheer reading pleasure.

The other two books are The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2005), which is a prequel, and Absolute Honour (2006).

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