Prelude to Glory, v.1: Our Sacred Honor
Ron Carter is a deeply religious individual who intends his multi-volume work on the Dunson family of Boston to serve as an example of the central role the Christian God played in the success of American patriots during the American Revolution. The result is a mammoth work populated with characters who behave more as symbols of American heroism than real people with normal emotions. The writing is ponderous and can be almost stilted at times. Far too many events take far too many pages to describe. Indeed, if the fictional Dunsons had a real-life editor, the result would be a novel blessed with a quicker pace and a finer sense of itself. As it stands, the author’s inability to move the action along at a brisker pace and the transparent saintliness of the rebels is a deadly combination for all but the most determined reader.
In all fairness, Carter has done his homework. The tension between rebel Bostonian and Royal officials is accurate and reasonably well described (each chapter includes a bibliography and additional comments). The problem does not lie with the research. It lies with the writing. The Dunson clan and their friends in the rebellion against the Crown meet, and largely triumph, over the many challenges faced by British occupation. They play their parts in Lexington, Concord, and the slaughter at Bunker Hill while dealing with crises of family life and a daughter who falls in love with a British officer. The novel takes the family saga to the British withdrawal from Boston. The question remains: after 602 pages of plodding detail, does the reader care?