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This intriguing prequel to Humphreys's swashbuckling historical adventure debut, Jack Absolute, which was based on a character drawn from Richard Sheridan's 18th-century play The Rivals, lays the foundations of Jack's early life as a boy, a spirited teenager, and eventually a young man facing the grim reality of politics, war, and the fight for survival in the wilderness of the New World. The novel opens with Jack an outcast in the house of his abusive uncle, but his life as a provincial farmhand becomes one of aristocratic schooling when his soldier father returns from military service and takes him to London. There, he begins to understand his father's sense of bravery and honor, while his sense of art and poetry are refined by his thespian mother. But Jack becomes entangled in a dangerous love triangle that forces him into the British army. Beckoned to the New World, he experiences war, capture by Indians, and the beginning of his ties to a landscape that is at once inspiring and deadly. Humphreys is skilled at blending history with swashbuckling adventure that leaves a lasting impression, creating a a great tale that complements the first book. Readers who enjoyed Winston Graham's "Poldark Saga" historical series or George McDonald Fraser's "Flashman" series will also find this appealing. Recommended for all historical fiction collections.