The Men of Grit Series: The Boy Colonel, Brother at Arms, and Secret of the Lost Settlement
The Men of Grit Series are my all-time favorite fiction books. Period.
Battles, fist-fights, buried Inca treasure, secrets, lost settlements, Ancient Romans, Pacific islands, humor, wit, originality, solid Biblical teaching, and of course, the inescapable romance (Grrr), and more fill these books. What more do you ask for? (Except maybe a break from romance?)
The Boy Colonel
The first in the series, The Boy Colonel, is very special to me, as it was this book which inspired me to write my upcoming novel His Father's Command (info found here). The idea and plot of The Boy Colonel is like nothing I've ever read. Horn, with his very first novel, has managed to create an unrivaled adventure novel, aimed at teenage boys (yet so well-written I would recommend it to anyone!), and epic in it's message and medium.
A young 'boy' is colonel of a unusual regiment in the British Army fighting in the snowy wastelands of Siberia. Yet he goes by the mysterious name of Colonel Nobody. Life is hard commanding the 42nd regiment, yet that is not the least of his problems. An envious superior wants him dead, he is betrothed, despite his wishes, to the king's ward (Sigh. This is the romance. But it's at least tolerable), and a rich fop will stop at nothing to claim her. Will he stand for what is just and noble, or will he take the coward's out?
This book is definitely beyond any other boy's book I have read, especially considering it's a debut novel. One aspect I really appreciated was the multitude of ethical and moral dilemmas Colonel Nobody and his comrades face, always making their decisions off the Bible. Drinking, dancing, assassinations, just wars and more, even if you don't agree with
Nobody's standards, you will have to admit, he strives to live by the Bible alone.
This book was gripping, slightly emotional (big emphasis on the slightly part), and inspiring. This is a book I'll recommend to all seeking a clean, Godly, and truly manly book.
Brothers at Arms
The next in the series, Brothers at Arms, is not exactly a sequel. Mention is made to a few of the characters in The Boy Colonel so I recommend reading The Boy Colonel first, but the story is completely unconnected. Yet, I must admit, I do not know which Men of Grit book is better. While The Boy Colonel is set in snowy Siberia, (and balmy South Sea islands) and involves battles, escapades, epic sword-fights and it's message is reliance upon God and doing what is right, Brothers at Arms is a little different. The story hops from countryside England to wartime Spain to the jungles of Peru, and features hidden treasure, mysterious villains, love (Grrr again), headhunters, jungles and more.
Two identical twins, Chester and Lawrence, are the objects of an experiment maintained by their father. One would be strictly trained as a philosopher, and the other let run wild. The result: Lawrence, the trained one, is expert in and lover of mathematics, science and theology, and Chester, is adventure-loving, sword-knife-pistol-and-fist-wielding, and expert in every outdoor recreation thinkable. Yet when Chester runs away to join the army in Spain, Lawrence follows his father's bidding to find and protect Chester. While they are there, they rescue a Spanish Don from near assassination. Then when they are hired on as bodyguards to the Don, the whole gaggle journey to Peru, fleeing from a mysterious, but dangerous and disappointed suitor of the Don's ward, Pacarina. They escape to the inland jungle, but then Pacarina reveals she holds a hundreds-year old secret, the location of the lost Inca's buried treasure.The adventure is on. (Oh, and not to forget the romance is very original and surprising, which makes it a little likeable. Just a little.)
There were many things I liked about Brothers at Arms; the crackling humor and wit, the originality of a scholar narrating an adventure story, the mystery, the suspense, and the inspiring message of the quest for a right relationship between two very different brothers. Once again, a manly tale I heartily recommend to anyone!
Secret of the Lost Settlement
Secret of the Lost Settlement is a very original (I know, your getting weary of that word, but it's the most fitting description for the whole series) sequel to the series, combining both previous books for another epic, inspiring, and memorable tale of men of grit.
Anyhow, I won't go into the synopsis, as it may spoil some of the plot for the first two books. However, if you don't think it matters, I suggest reading my previous review on the book here.
But I must warn you, this is my least favorite book in the series, and was somewhat disappointing. The revolution Colonel Nobody, Stoning brothers and co. start is Biblically questionable, at least in my perspective. I'm no pacifist, yet Romans 13:1 must not be ignored. There is no example in Scripture of a response to persecution being revolt. None.
Also, the tone of Secret Settlement is slightly different then the rest. Darker, more violent and gritty, less funny, and way more unrealistic (Victorian Brits fighting Ancient Romans in Greenland?), the book was sad and almost depressing. Very little of the troubles were resolved. And yes, I will admit (and this is a big pro for the book), this was one of only two books I cried during reading. And after surfacing from this book, you will be fine with men, manly men too, shedding a few tears. It's that awesome. And epic.
Soli Deo Gloria,
The Book Adventurer