Years of British-led failures have taken its toll on Jacob Murray. Standing alone amidst the aftermath of yet another unfathomable defeat, his thoughts turn north to his wife Maggie and the perilous gulf of wilderness that stands between them like the French abbitas at Fort Carillon. He would pack his grief and exhaustion and head north with his son James, if not for the cruel unyielding attention of a British officer bent on his ruin. For the time being, he fights back his longing and bides his time while the trails slowly shed their winter cover and waits for an opportunity to present itself. Meanwhile Maggie is forced to rely on the kindness of a French priest to keep her safe while she still searches for her family. The sudden, chance arrival of three French brothers changes her course. She now entrusts her life to a stranger as they decide to head north. The fifth novel in the award-winning series, The Gauntlet Runner, Heights of Hell is a fast-paced story that plunges readers into the vast, unexplored forests of 1758 New York and the doomed defeat of another British army. Experience the courage of the Black Watch, the near death of the vaunted Robert Rogers and the raw emotion consuming both Jacob and Maggie as their paths seemingly moves them in the opposite direction. WWW.THEGAUNTLETRUNNER1754.COM
My take on this book:
If I had to describe Heights of Hell by S. Thomas Bailey in just one word I would use epic. The writing makes me feel like I have actually stepped back into the mid 1700's, dropped right into the midst of a war where the enemy was right around the corner. Indians and Frontiersmen fighting alongside the French and English armies. Sometimes the enemy is someone whom you thought was your ally and mercy is sometimes given from the enemy!
It seems that fate continues to keep separating Jacob Murray and his wife Maggie. His only solace is that he has his son James along with his faithful companions One Ear and Joshua with him as he continues to lead his troops, even though he longs to leave and find Maggie and the rest of his children. When someone threatens his son James, he will do anything to keep him safe even if it means jeopardizing his own safety! Meanwhile Maggie has her own set of problems, she was staying at One Ear's village when it was attacked causing her to be separated from her baby son Israel. She will do anything to find him, but is it enough? One things for certain Maggie and Jacob long to be reunited and take their family home to Pennsylvania but as long as the battle continues it seems that reunion may just be an unattainable dream!
S. Thomas Bailey creates an easily readable story with Heights of Hell and the entire Gauntlet Runner series. The story seems so real that I sometimes forget that Mr. Bailey didn't actually live the story himself. His portrayal of the characters along with the richly painted details of the setting makes me feel like I am truly watching the events unfold through the eyes of Jacob and Maggie. It is truly like stepping back in time to watch history in the making.Survival is something that no one is assured of, and harsh decisions are often made to ensure survival.The emotions of the characters are tangible, from the drama and desperation that Jacob felt as he wanted to protect James, to Maggie's drive to find her young son the feelings are real, the characters so lifelike that it's hard to come back to reality and leave the characters when the book finally ends. While the story provides many heart pounding twists where I had to wonder how anyone would survive, there were also plenty of heart wrenching moments woven in as well.
I have been fortunate enough to read The Gauntlet Runner Series in it's entirety and I must say that S. Thomas Bailey is a master storyteller who knows how to bring history to life within the pages of this series. Before embarking on the journey of Maggie and Jacob I have to admit I really knew very little about the time period because I always perceived it to be a dry, boring subject but Mr. Bailey has opened my eyes to the richness of the time and allowed me to learn so many things about this vital time in our countries history. Thank you Mr. Bailey I can't wait to read the next book in The Gauntlet Runner Series!
Reviewed for Readersfavorite.com