Thursday, September 1, 2005

Outrageous Interlude: The Battle's Aftermath

Outrageous Interlude, the fifth book in Richard Patton’s “Neophyte Warrior” series, picks up immediately where Massacre at the Forks ended – the weeks immediately following the Monongahela battle. Whereas the previous book emphasized the battle, with most of the action contained within a single day, this part covers the rest of 1755 and all of 1756. In the months after the British defeat, the French take a passive role while the victorious Indians run rampant, raiding and killing settlers on the frontier. Meanwhile, George Washington has “retired” and decided to become a farmer. His friends must convince him of a need to rejoin the Virginia military to help stop the slaughter.

Finally the Stump Neck plot, minimized to only a scene or two per book for the last few parts, returns; some story points make a full circle back to Stump Neck’s true identity as Pariah West. An encounter between Old Smoke’s traveling entourage and Stump Neck’s raiding band makes for some excellent page turning adventure. Indeed, the enlarged role for Stump Neck in this story reveals more about this mad-man, even as it places him at an appropriate point in the overall story (the raiding bands of the wild frontier in 1755). He really didn’t belong in the earlier books, which dealt primarily with George Washington and the British and colonial soldiers; but the dangling Stump-Neck plot from these earlier parts finally enhances the overall series.

As with previous books, Outrageous Interlude includes some obscene language and crude, bawdy remarks (from the raiding French and Indian characters). This book in particular deals also with the savage cruelty of the Indians against innocent settlers, and gives some rather graphic depictions of torture, told through several brief episodes of various settlers and their fates. Outrageous Interlude does not sweeten the truth, but tells it realistically.

Outrageous Interlude does a great job of blending great historical research with an interesting story. As part of the “Neophyte Warrior” series, this part holds up as well as the earlier ones, showing the same appreciation for historical accuracy and character development.