Sunday, June 1, 2003

The Lion’s Apprentice: More Adventures of the Young George Washington

The Lion’s Apprentice, the third book in Richard Patton’s "Neophyte Warrior" series, continues the story told in the previous two books—His Majesty’s Envoy and The Reluctant Commander. This third installment picks up the story after Washington’s debacle at Great Meadows, and covers the next year – from the fall of 1754 to the summer of 1755. We now meet General Braddock, brought in by the British to subdue the French and reclaim the western fort. Braddock then brings Washington onto his staff, as an adviser, one who knows the territory and its problems. Washington sees a great opportunity here, as an apprentice, a way to advance his military career.

Much of this book contrasts the military styles of the two cultures: the more refined (and somewhat arrogant) British, versus the rustic, rural Americans. The clashing military styles, well-known to Americans familiar with our country’s history, are discussed at length, along with the many details often brushed-over. Braddock’s main problem is deja-vu for Washington: the lack of supplies, and inadequate roads through the back country.

The minor fictional characters are back, in brief parts of the story as before. Shawnee Indian Old Smoke is the strongest and most visible of these. The Pariah West/Stump Neck story seems rather tiresome by now; indeed the character himself admits his own boredom and lack of direction. Fortunately, his presence in The Lion’s Apprentice is quite negligible, and most of the book focuses on the more interesting story of General Braddock, Washington and their associates.

As the third part in a longer series detailing George Washington’s career with the French and Indian war, The Lion’s Apprentice is understood as an installment, not a novel on its own with a clear beginning and ending. The author includes a synopsis of events prior to this part, but readers would do best to read the books in sequence. This third part of "Neophyte Warrior" is a good, interesting and educational read through this period in America’s history.

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