Aindreas: The Scribe, 1865

Written by Gerald McDaniel
Review by Meredith Campbell

Sequels are difficult to write, but McDaniel has admirably met the challenge–for the most part. The Scribe-1865, a worthy second entry in the Aindreas Rivers Saga, is rich in accurate historical details and colorful characters. However, harmful differences occur.

During the last four months of the American Civil War, the poor, epileptic 13-year-old Irish boy is now a 23-year-old veteran with a passion to write. Reporting for The Scribe, a Louisville newspaper, Aindreas is confined to dreary assignments and tolerates owner-editor Thomas Witherspoon’s verbal abuse.

The reporter happens upon a fire at a prominent hotel, causing him to rescue a stranded family. His valor and his written account afterwards gain him Witherspoon’s permission to write more meaty stories. Aindreas reports his 1864 encounter with a historical figure, the infamous guerrilla Sue Mundy, and writes up his haunting experiences as a medic at Perryville, Kentucky, one of the war’s bloodiest battles. Some readers may experience a problem here. The interjection of historical narrative as Aindreas stops to pen it halts the flow of the tale. A second problem is the graphic sexuality that abounds throughout. One particular description borders on the pornographic and is decidedly anachronistic.

Regardless of its flaws, the story makes for quality reading. For as Aindreas struggles with his own blindness, his oppressive job, his loutish family, and his doomed love affair with an ex-slave, he emerges optimistic, confident of his talent and able to move out into the post-war world that will need his reporter’s skilled eye.