ENIGMA Road to the Breaking, Book 2 ISBN: 9781733107969 published, copyright and written by Chris Bennett.
This is the second of an anticipated historical novel series of four. It opens with several definitions of the meaning of the book’s title, a quotation by Nathan Chambers, the protagonist: “I’m not particularly keen on doing what’s normal. I much prefer doing what’s right”, and follows with the opening chapter entitled “Princes, Strange Beasts, and Magical Giants”. The story begins in Greenbrier County, Virginia on June 11, 1860 with Nathan Chambers approaching the Big House his granddaddy had built among the seemingly endless cotton fields. It follows his, along with a host of other characters, actions as the United States of America gradually and inevitably head to the catastrophic War Between the States. A war whose genesis was greed, different ‘ways of life’ and differences in hunger for political power by groups basically demonstrating tremendous differences in morality with thousands of individuals’ very lives at stake. It also is the story of one man’s struggle to conquer an almost overpowering lack of control of a violent temper and to impose his strongly held belief in God and the equality of all men in a position of responsibility in a section of the country that was totally adverse to such equality.
Discussion: Although this volume can ‘standalone’, this reviewer believes some description of the protagonist’s actions and even that of many of his companions should provide insightful material for prospective readers. The first book in the series opens in March 15, 1860 – South of Fort Davis, Texas where Captain Nathaniel Chambers leads his troop attempting to find a notorious outlaw. They do and Chambers, angered by the outlaw’s action, viciously reacts. The reaction is understandable and not inappropriate, but distasteful to him as he is concerned with this personal lack of self-control of anger that he has been struggling with for many years. He had left home because of violent differences with his father, eventually graduated from West Point and ended his career to this point after fighting in the Mexican War. And the loss of control, early encountered and still active as demonstrated here, becomes a persistent feature of the story as it evolves. The tale continues as he is almost revered by those under his command as a fearless leader in battle and an intelligent, empathetic officer. Thus, when his father dies unexpectedly and he is forced to leave the army and its, for him, compatible way of life to return to Virginia, a few of his men resign to accompany him. The return is necessitated by his mother’s inability to handle the affairs of running a huge plantation, replete with slaves, another feature with which the Captain is ‘uncomfortable’.
The title of Book 1, “Road to the Breaking”, is based upon a time of great unrest between the American Indian Nations which Billy Creek, a U.S. Army Indian Scout with Nathan describes: “It was a time of such suffering and death, it caused the breaking of all the old ways. Some for the good, and some for the worse. Nothing came through ‘the breaking’ unchanged, and all that once was, even to the greenness of the earth, was broken during that time, and was never again the same.” The words well describe the theme of the author’s anticipated series as if progresses through the ‘gathering storm’ of the gradually developing Civil War as provided by a somewhat ‘in depth’ description of the actions that evolve around Nathan, his family, friends, acquaintances and enemies. The pace is slightly more ‘uneven’ than that of the first volume due largely to the additional discussions of pertinent facts that perhaps would benefit from some judicious editing. However, the characters are credible and most empathetically portrayed and the story of this chaotic period is a fascinatingly well-told historical novel.
In Summary, a most enjoyable ‘follow-up’ to the opening 5* volume.
5* Continuation of author’s difficult-to-put-down historical novel series.