Through the Fray, by G.A. Henty


Through the Fray

This particular Henty begins in the early years of our hero, Ned’s, life. We watch him go through school, get in trouble for breaking his nasty teacher’s shoulder (he’s acquitted of punishment for good reasons), cry as his father passes away and meet a young lad who will be his life long friend.

After Ned breaks his nasty teachers shoulder, the man is sent away from cruelty to boys. The new teacher, unlike the other, is kind and firm. He prefers not to beat the boys unless it is absolutely necessary, and obedience out of respect rather than fear. It is to this teacher that Ned depends on for advice and guidance after the passing of his beloved father.

Ned’s father dies saving a young girl from getting run over by a carriage, this event leads to his mothers second marriage less than a year later. The step-father is cruel, but is able to hide it from those he is cozying up to. (Ned hates him)

Because of his cruelty, Ned and him fight every now and again. One time the step-father beats on Ned horribly and then goes off into the night, Ned following half awake to go walk in the country. Ned’s step-father is murdered and Ned is blamed ….will he be able to prove his innocence? You’ll need to read it to find out!

Positive: Though Ned’s mother is unkind to him almost every time they meet, and accuses him of his step fathers murder, refusing to see Ned for over a year. In the end, Ned and his mother are reconciled.

Ned’s father is a strong figure, and this book shows the value of friendship, overcoming fiery tempers, perseverance in the face of great adversity and how you shouldn’t judge too quickly.

Negative: Ned’s mother is a very poor example to her children, and is shown as very lazy, strong-headed and a gossip. Thankfully in the end these unwanted traits, except for her gossiping, reverse themselves.

Overall: Another great G.A. Henty, though our hero does not actually go into the army as is his original wish, he does great good where he is at. I strongly recommend this Henty book. 🙂

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Maori and the Settler by G. A. Henty


The Shining Sword

(Another G.A. Henty I know, but I like his books, what can I say.)
Unlike most other Henty books, Maori and the Settler does not contain lots of battles and hardships for our hero to go through. Instead, Wilfred’s story, our hero, begins at his home in England.

Wilfred’s father is not an ambitious man, and spends his time studying to write books, thus forcing the house and business management on Wilfred and his mother. Because of strikes and riots, Wilfred’s family goes bankrupt with only the mother’s dowry to their name, and are thus obliged to leave their home in search of less expensive living.

Hearing of the good settling opportunities in New Zealand, they convince their father to move there. Most of the book revolves around their voyage there, the friends they meet, and the change in character several people have. Including the father, who realizes that he does not really know his family, and stops studying to spend more time with them.

A few dangerous moments occur aboard the ship they travel on, but nothing our hero and his friends cannot handle.

They reach New Zealand in one piece, and find a comfortable place to call home. Which they dub “The Glade.” Things to go smoothly, except for some Indian massacres they hear of, and the rumor that war might come their way. There is much more to tell, but I cannot without spoiling the end.

My overall reaction to the book was positive. I was surprised our hero was not as involved in wars and skirmishes, though he had his fair share. This book differs much from what I general read in Henty books, yet I really did enjoy the way Henty described the way of life a settler might have lived were he forced from England to New Zealand. It was informative and interesting, well worth the read.

Won By the Sword by G. A. Henty


Won by the Sword

Plot: Won by the Sword is set in the 17th century. The French at that time were in the midst of what would turn out to be a thirty years war.
We meet our hero, Hector Campbell, in 1639, the war has already been raging for twenty-some-odd years by that time. Found by General Turrene practicing play-war against a city, Hector talks some time with him before finding that the gentlemen he is speaking with is General Turrene himself. Turrene takes a liking to Hector and soon has him on as his personal messenger.

The thirty years war began mostly due to the different nobles of France warring for more power, and a stronger hold on the French throne. At that time the Italian bishop, Richelieu, held great power over the throne, mostly due to his friendship with the king. A man of intelligence and power, Richelieu did his best to unite France during his life time with the king.

Not far into our story Richelieu, and the king, die of illness. The king’s young son is then crowned king, but the throne is in control of his mother until he comes of age. Succeeding Richelieu is Mazerin, another Italian bishop who is also in great power, though he was not greatly admired by the king, he learned well from Richelieu and is held in favor by the queen.

General Enghien is also under Frances’s service at this time, and is equal in brilliance in strategy to Turrene, though Turrene is more cautious while Enghien is less concerned with how many men are lost. Both are equally brave, and both take a liking to Hector, who serves under the two.
Battles are won on either side, the French and Austrian, (both countries have other countries aiding them) but nothing happens that truly sways the victory rod in either direction.

This Henty book contains much of the history of France, yet is combined with Hector’s own adventures, which are many. We see the war through Hector’s eyes, and are very happy for it, as it’s a fun nose-in-the-pages book.

Negative: The war chapters do not go into great detail of how men die and are very mild. Other than a duel, an alley fight and a brush with robbers in an inn, there is little negative content.

Overall: This was a very good Henty book, not his most exciting, but it was not dry and dull. I do recommend this book, as it is chock full of good history, and is rather a fun read. (And, as usual, our hero is ever brave and honorable.)

A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty


A Roving Commission

Plot: Our hero’s story begins several months before the insurrection on the island of Hayti, on a ship anchored in Hayti. Nathaniel, known to all as Nat, because he dislikes his full name, goes ashore to see the town. In the course of the visiting the town, he rides out into the countryside. Several miles from the town, Nat hears a scream and cries for help, jumping from his mount he runs to the voice. Nat sees a large dog mauling a young girl, without a thought, he jumps at it and after a short brawl, kills it with his sailor’s dirk. The girl’s parents take Nat into their home while he recovers from his large injuries.

After a month or so with the small family, Nat returns to his ship.

Aboard with his shipmates once more, Nat sets out on another adventure, this one including pirates. The captain informs Nat that they have orders to sail around the islands, and see if any pirates are about.

Thanks to Nat’s keen eyesight, the ship notices a pirate hold deep within an island. They attack this and capture the entire hold. Unexpectedly, among their plunder, are about two hundred slaves. These they feed and cloth properly; following a sharp fight with the surviving pirates and islanders, the ship sails home with the freed slaves and other cargo.

Relieving themselves of the slaves, and leaving them to others care, Nat’s ship sets out once more to survey the various islands for pirates. Once more, thanks to Nat’s keen eyesight, they discover a small pirate hold hidden well on an island. Finding the opening small and well guarded, the captain sends a small force ashore to take down the guards so the ship could sail through cleanly. Nat goes with the small party, and they take down the pirate guards before they know what hit them. A short, intense fight ensues, killing all the pirates and giving the sailors great plunder from a large warehouse.

The ship returns victorious to their harbor and unloads its precious cargo. The captain rewards Nat’s outstanding bravery from the last battle, with leave for a few days to visit the family whose daughter he had saved. He is there few days before the slaves around the island revolt against the white rule. Providentially, Nat, the girl he saved, and her mother, are warned in time and are able to leave the house before the slaves come to kill them and burn the house. Now, on the run for their lives, Nat must protect the woman and find a way back to the town.

Positive: Our hero, Nat, is full of honor, courage and good brains (excuse the expression) as always. Something that is lacking in many of our hero’s in modern day books, especially the good brains part.

The battles are well written and engaging, a very big plus for me.

Mr. Henty does an excellent job of portraying the events of the black insurrection of Hayti. He draws you into the historical event with the story, with our’s hero help of course.

Negative: I cannot say many negatives about this book, in fact I cannot think of one!

Overall: The books that Mr. Henty writes are what first drew me to history, aside from my natural wish to learn more of it, he made me find it fascinating. Mr. Henty does a wonderful job keeping your nose in the book and interested in our hero’s tale, yet, at the same time, filling the reader’s mind with history.

I highly recommend this book to people of all ages; it is well written and finely told.

Both Sides of The Border by G. A. Henty


Both Sdes of the Border

Plot: Our hero is an ever-good lad, trying to reach knighthood, and his constant companion is a monk who cannot abide his chosen style of life. Together they live in the fifteenth century, during a war between Wales, Scotland and England. The two do not meet until Oswald, our hero, is accepted in the service of Sir Henry, also known as Hotspur. Oswald meets Roger, our dear bad monk, when he wishes to take some reading and writing lessons, which are taught to him by Roger.

Oswald is recruited as an esquire; his main duty is to run messages to other people for Hotspur. One of his first missions includes taking a secret message to a lord in Scotland, with Roger by his side. Though quite dangerous, Oswald performs it well and escapes when nearly caught. It is soon after this daring mission, that Hotspur obtains leave of monk hood for Roger and sends him to a neighboring lord as a man-at-arms .

Several months later our daring hero is sent to Hotspurs brother-in-law, Mortimer, for short period, in which he may, with the help of twenty men-at-arms and his uncle and Roger, assist Mortimer against Glendower. The Welsh have started an uprising to support Glendowers claim for the Welsh throne; Glendower does have royal blood after all. Only a few weeks after arriving, Mortimer captures Glendowers castle; he soon finds that Glendower escaped upon seeing their approach. Much to his disappointment Mortimer cannot find any of Glendowers daughters; after posting guards around the grounds, Mortimer goes to his home to await the news of whether or not Glendower will try and recapture his castle. Oswald and Roger are on duty together, when they see two figures rise from some bushes and run toward the forest. Catching them quickly Oswald demands they surrender, only to find they are women, daughters of Glendower; they offer the men jewels in return for their freedom. Oswald declines their offer, declaring such a thing would not be honorable; after several moments of discussion with Roger, he decides to let the girls go free. His only reward being a small charm which he could show to any Welshman, should he find himself in need, and they would take him to the girls. Oswald and Roger return to their posts, no one being the wiser for their doings, since he did not want the girls to go to an English prison for many years.

Oswald performs his battles well during the Welsh uprising and highly praised by Mortimer when sent back to Hotspur.

Positive: When one reads a G.A. Henty, it is sometimes difficult to get into the story, not so with this one. In the first chapter he draws you and keeps your nose in until the end. Mr. Henty gives a lot of information about the time period, and does an excellent job in describing the battles and scuffles our good people get into.

Negative: I can’t say much of anything negative about it, no bloody descriptions, no swearing. So this paragraph is rather small, but that’s good!

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this Henty book, it kept my nose in the pages after the first paragraph. The history is fun to learn, and completely worth the time spent reading it. I highly recommend it to all ages.

Other Henty reviews.

By Right of Conquest by G. A. Henty


By Right of Conquest

Plot: The book begins by introducing us to our main characters, Roger, his cousins and aunt and uncle. Rogers father, Reuben, is captain of the uncle’s ship, the Swan. Reuben proposes to the uncle that he and other businessman take a voyage to the unknown regions, currently under Spanish control, yet still undiscovered. After much careful thought, the uncle agrees and a few weeks later Roger and Reuben set sail. They have been sailing for some months, stopping in at islands to trade for supplies, when they have a small run in with six Spanish ships. They escape with no damage to their vessel and leave the Spanish ships far behind. A few days later they run in to a storm, which lasts for several days, much to our dismay, the ship is wrecked with Roger as the only survivor.

He walks to a village and stays there for several months, the villagers think him a god, since he has white skin and not dark like theirs. While there, he befriends a slave girl, who teaches him her native tongue. A time comes when traders arrive to barter with the natives; eventually Roger agrees to go with the traders to their own land. After many days of travel they arrive at the island next to the capital of Mexico. Roger is warmly welcomed by the reigning king, his wife and his lovely daughter. Our hero has many days with his new friends, and many discussions, before the King of Mexico discovers that he is there. The king of Mexico, Montezuma, requests a meeting with Roger, which he agrees to. After the meeting, Roger returns to the other palace. We find that the ambassadors from our good king are having a hard time convincing the king of Mexico that Roger is not a threat. The greater majority of the priests want to sacrifice Roger, and Montezuma listens a lot to these priests.

Eventually Spaniards land on the coast and cause great excitement. Montezuma wants them to leave, but they don’t wish to; Montezuma is scared by the Spaniards because they are thought to be gods. For several chapters, the author focuses on the Spanish and their progress through Mexico, making their way to the capital. Roger is told that Montezuma is going to arrest him and have him sacrificed. The other king helps him escape and Roger is ultimately able to join the Spanish. Through many battles the Spanish make it to the capital. Montezuma keeps the peace for some time, but in the end the priests voices win out. An attack is made on the house where the Spaniards are staying; there is a great battle with much slaughter. At this point both sides are hostile to each other. The Spaniards see the danger, and General Cortez, leads them from the city. They are attacked on every side by the Aztecs, the latter being furious at the humiliation they endured and the ruin brought to their temples.

Positive: Our hero is a Christian; he abhors the human sacrifices and openly tells his pagan friends that their gods are false. Our hero risks much to save his friends, he stays loyal and true to the Spaniards, and even when they appear to be losing. Many of the Mexican people help our hero escape, even when it risks their lives and livelihood.

Negative: There are human sacrifices near the end of the book, being Aztecs; they believe it is what their god requires of them. We find that many thousands of captives are slain every year to the pagan gods of the Aztecs. There are battles where many die and several are wounded. A woman is wounded and becomes sick, though she does get better. There is a massacre, which occurs in cold blood.

Overall: I was directed to this book by my sister. She and I both enjoy G.A. Henty books. This one was rather long, but completely worth the time invested. I enjoy historical fiction immensely and I highly recommend this book.