Valley Forge: A Novel of the American Revolution

Written by David Garland
Review by John R. Vallely

British Army Captain Jamie Skoyles marches on in author David Garland’s successor novel to Saratoga. Captain Skoyles had been taken prisoner along with the rest of “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne’s ill-fated expedition in 1777. Imprisoned by the rebellious Americans outside of Boston, the intrepid Skoyles escapes with his love, Elizabeth, and the faithful sergeant Tom Caffrey, and Tom’s wife. Blessed with an officer’s keen mind and a common soldier’s skill with weapons, Skoyles will reach British lines only to find he has been selected to serve as an intelligence operative. His task is to embed himself within the American forces in their winter encampment at Valley Forge and keep Sir William Howe in occupied Philadelphia informed of Washington’s status. Skoyle’s friend from pre-war days, the rebel Ezekiel Proudfoot, is also involved in intelligence service as an American agent assisting in propaganda work against the British. Skoyle’s abilities are tested at every turn and are complicated by his growing doubts about his country’s role in America and his sympathy for the American rebellion. His loyalties to his army or his conscience are tested in a final confrontation with his enemy, Major Harry Featherstone, and Skoyles decides to exchange his red coat for an American blue.

David Garland has, once again, done his homework. His treatment of Washington and his spy service, and the enigmatic Howe and the British forces is on target. But while Garland’s principles are interesting, they still seem to lack the personality and life one looks to find in a second novel in an ongoing series.