Thursday, August 1, 2002

His Majesty's Envoy: Young George Washington

The Neophyte Warrior series, by Richard Patton, tells the life of young George Washington during the French and Indian war in the 1750s: a lesser-known period of Washington’s life and great story material. The first book in the series, His Majesty’s Envoy, introduces the 21-year-old Major and his early career, covering the time period from December 1753 through April of 1754 and events leading up to the French and Indian war.

Primarily a story based on Washington’s life, His Majesty’s Envoy expands from the known record with interesting characters who depict the actual French, Indian, and Colonial English involved in the conflict. Several scenes explain the politics of the war and the positions held by each side, and subplots explore the characters’ relationships and how the impending conflict may affect them. As the first in a series, the book ends rather abruptly, anticipating the next volume of the continuing story.

Though it starts out slowly, His Majesty’s Envoy soon builds interest through the characters and the rich historical background of this little known time period. The 21-year-old Washington himself seems nothing like the Revolutionary War era leader; of course hindsight makes it all the more interesting. The story expands also into Washington’s personal life, including his friendship with the flirtatious young Sally (Mrs. Sarah Cary Fairfax), who was married to his friend (and based on actual correspondence from Washington the following year, 1755).

Of particular interest, the author follows the Indian naming tradition, correlating the characters and how their names describe their true personality. One young Indian decides to change his name from "Sinking Canoe" to "Striking Eagle," though the name change seems inappropriate to his friend who insists on keeping his own birth name. Among the Colonial English, a young man named Pariah truly lives up to the meaning of his name.

His Majesty’s Envoy is a good beginning to what promises to be a solid historical fiction series, with strong character development and an in-depth look at the French and Indian War.

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