Self-published, Toronto, 346 pages, $19.98.
This is one of the very few novels set in the tumultuous years of the War of 1812. It is an enjoyable yarn. The plot follows the exploits of young Jonathan Westlake, the agent of the title. The son of a prosperous fur-trader, he travels over the length and breadth of Upper Canada in the weeks leading up to the declaration of war by the United States in June of 1812, until the capture of Fort Detroit in August of that year.
Westlake and his companion, Private Walter Parrish of the 41st Regiment, endure danger and adventure, as the events inevitably unfold. En route, they meet a number of characters, real and fictional, integrated well into the story. Taylor is well able to capture the political and moral ambiguity of the times with claims on loyalties from both sides of the border. Although we occasionally meet stereotypically evil characters, such as the brutal enemy sergeant, or the corrupt deserter, they never control the story.
Historically, the background to the adventures of Westlake and Parish is well-founded. It is also seamlessly woven into the narrative.
This is great historical fiction, and one can anticipate the promised continuing adventures of Westlake and Parrish in the years to come. Something good to look forward to.
Brock's Agent is available at Chapters/Indigo stores and on-line here. Visit Tom Taylor's web page here. Tom has recently published a new book: Brock's Railroad, and I'd greatly welcome a review for Quick Brown Fox. - Brian
Ray Hobbs is a retired university professor who is now a freelance writer, lecturer and researcher in things historical. His interest lie in military history, both ancient, and the War of 1812. He is editing two unpublished manuscripts by participants in the war, and writing a larger tome on Religion and Warfare.
See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.