Sparrowhawk, Book Six: War

Written by Edward Cline
Review by Mark F. Johnson

The sixth and final book of the series picks up the story in the spring of 1774 and continues to the very beginning of September, 1775, although the epilogue fast-forwards a bit and ties up loose ends through the end of the Revolutionary War. Jack Frake, who has long believed no reconciliation is possible and the war is inevitable, continues his preparations by storing weapons and ammunitions and training a militia force. Hugh Kenrick, on the other hand, still hopes to avoid an all-out war with England. He travels to England to handle personal matters and seek a chance to speak to Parliament. However, he finds that body to be more obstinate than ever; each stubborn move by Parliament dims his hope until he, too, is convinced that America must stand on its own. Meanwhile, back in Virginia, his former friends and neighbors begin to takes sides, and the Loyalists resort to betrayal and deceit in an effort to capture Jack and Hugh. Caxton itself becomes a battlefield.

This volume, more than any of the previous ones, contains more action and actual historical events. While Cline does an admirable job with the action scenes, his forte is in putting into words the internal philosophical struggles of his characters. At this he is a master, and those scenes in this book stand out like diamonds. One in particular, between Jack and Hugh, revolves around the conflict between deep devotion to a friend and an equally deep devotion to a cause and ultimately to one’s own beliefs. It is while reading those passages that the reader may suddenly find himself not immersed in the scene at hand, but looking inwardly to his own ethics. Remarkable.