The Gauntlet Runner: A Tale from the French and Indian War
Private Jacob Murray, a twenty-six-year-old Pennsylvanian volunteer in the ranks of George Washington’s Virginia Provincial Militia, is scouting the dense, almost impassable Ohio Valley wilderness in May 1754. Together with his twin brother, Israel, and two Mingo warriors, Jacob searches for a party of French troops encroaching on British soil.
Back at home, Murray’s wife, Maggie, and their four children carve out a meager existence until a group of French and Huron war parties raid their small farm. Taken captive, they are unsure if they will live to see their husband and father again.
With word spreading that French-backed Huron raiding parties are decimating the Pennsylvania countryside and taking white captives, young Major Washington, Murray, and a French officer bent on revenge are destined to cross paths. As three hostile powers continue to vie for control of the coveted Ohio Valley, a war soon begins that will engulf them all.
The Gauntlet Runner tells a tale of fractured lives, broken treaties, and the stark realities of the struggles faced by early American settlers as they risk their lives to cultivate the young, formidable nation.
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Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite
S. Thomas Bailey transports readers back to the time of the French and Indian War. It was a fascinating time in history. Our tale begins near Black Creek where Maggie Murray lived in the family’s small cabin. Alone Maggie ran the farm. Her husband had enlisted in the Virginia Provincial Militia leaving her unprotected. Maggie knew how to “use a rifle and skin a deer,” but the hardship of the farm work and raising their children alone was starting to show on the once beautiful woman. Maggie was the best female shot in the area and put her talent to use when a Huron raiding party aided by the French attacked the cabin. The Murray cabin was not the only one attacked that day. The savages burned the cabins and took settlers prisoner.
I was unable to put this book down once I had started it. Bailey has captured the essence of the era in his account. Maggie, Joshua and One Ear are characters with great depth that march off the pages of this book into the hearts of the readers. The savagery of the Huron was something I had heard of but in this book I all but experienced it. The Huron’s not only conquered but humiliated and destroyed the men. Some of the women would be sold into slavery. We often forget that our nation was formed during a time of great violence. Brave men and women lead the way for the forming of a new nation. It cost many their lives. There is a lot more to this book than I have been able to touch on in a short summary. There is the mission of the militia, the English “proper” way to fight, and the desperation of a husband to find his beloved wife.
Bailey is an incredible writer and his long hours of research are evident. I could easily see this plot on the silver screen. I grew up watching Hawkeye, Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket. It is wonderful to read a high quality work of fiction about our country’s turbulent history. Mr. Bailey do not keep me waiting too long for the next installment of the Murrays.
Reviewed by Sylvia H. for Readers Favorite
They were pioneers looking for a place and a land to call their own: and within the backdrop of the French and Indian War, the different wild and highly uncivilized savage Indians tribes ruled the land. The Indian tribes such as the Hurons, the Shawnee and the Delaware also had the French as allies and together they formed a bond to torture and to ultimately destroy the American frontier families who were trying to take over the land that they held most dear. This, is the essence of author S. Thomas Bailey’s fictional historical tale, The Gauntlet Runner. Maggie Murray and her husband Jacob were in the midst of living a very rustic life in the frontier of the wilderness of Pennsylvania. Already encountering insurmountable hardships and the dangers to provide for their four young children, Jacob along with his twin Israel take up with the Virginia Provincial Militia for six months with the promise of receiving land for their service within the military. But one fateful day, Maggie and her sister-in-law Abbey are left helpless and defenseless against a vile and savage attack by the Indians and the French. And after being taken captive and forced to march against their will, and with their children being taken away to be raised in different Indian tribes, Maggie and Abbey must somehow muster the strength to stay alive while their husbands fight the very same enemy that has conquered them.
Set during a time in America when the majority of the continental United States was still left undiscovered and was vastly unknown, the early American settlers also known as pioneers set forth to pave a way through the dense and sparse wilderness. The Gauntlet Runner by author S. Thomas Bailey is one of those books that explore the many themes behind the French and the Indian War. And although fictional in account, S. Thomas Bailey told the story with remarkable clarity and vision. And although I thought that The Gauntlet Runner was very violent and graphic in detail, I really, really enjoyed reading this book. And even though American History has always been one of my favorite subjects, I really didn’t think that I would enjoy reading a fictional novel about the French and the Indian War. Surprisingly, not only did I discover that I really enjoyed this book; I found myself so intrigue and the story so riveting as such, I just couldn’t put this book down. And, at one point, I was so engrossed in the storyline, that I almost left my dinner to burn on the stove top. Author S. Thomas Bailey did a wonderfully fantastic job in describing and recreating what the frontier life must have been like for the families and for the men fighting with the different militia during that terrible time in history. I highly recommend reading The Gauntlet Runner for anyone with a love for American History, and for those with a wild sense of adventure that the storyline brings along with it. They will most certainly and most definitely not be left disappointed.
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