Blind Faith: The Gauntlet Runner Book VI by S. Thomas Bailey is the latest in his award-winning series. This historical novel does well in carrying its readers through a part of the French and Indian War in 1759. We gain powerful insights, feeling the emotional swings and hazards faced by the characters. The author, a brilliant historian, weaves characters amidst historical facts, giving readers a view of the war’s colonist trackers and focuses on their leader, Jacob Murray––his tenacious endurance––and his dilemmas.
The side story of his wife Maggie establishes her as a pioneering heroine. Their deep characterization inspires admiration when we consider the many folks who came before us––to settle North America. The underlying current of love gives us hope as we traverse through the agony of war and the challenges of the wild.
Reader interest is captured on the first page. After the latest demoralizing battle defeat, Jacob’s compassion and disgust rises when he sees the pathos caused by inept British Officers. Jacob agonizes over his dilemma–stay and fight–or desert his men, including his son, to try to find his beloved wife, presumably lost to the north while searching for their child.
Commissioned by the British Army, Jacob, and his fellow colonists operate as trackers gathering vital information for the British. He’s not a military man, but a settler who must fight in a British war. He leads his men using wisdom and strength but obeys commanding officers because he must. The secondary characters weave into the story either to support Jacob and Maggie or to be their foes––all characters have their own unique journey.
The author truly resurrects the history of this war, making it alive and vivid. Readers are gripped within the reality of the fight. We feel the honor, courage, fear, horror, despair, and hope.
Readers slog with Jacob and his men through the wilderness. Utilizing body language and dialogue, the author shows emotion and moves the story ahead. We feel their fatigue. We witness the unrelenting threat of attacks from the French and native warriors.
In addition to battling human enemies, the men withstand rugged overgrown terrain and impassable waterways. They must obey officers of doubtful ability and endure the prejudice of the British against the lowly colonists. We see Jacob’s genius when he and his men work feverishly to prepare for the brutality of an advancing Canadian winter.
Maggie engages readers in her own chapters. She forges through the wilderness amidst hostile Indians, searching for her two-year-old son. Knowing she must shoot and kill to survive, Maggie pushes forward––on foot and in stolen canoes––against overwhelming odds. When hope waxes thin and she’s a captive of her circumstances, she ignores her suspicions and must trust others.
We experience her vivid trials (similar to Jacob’s) in the wild tangled forests leading along the St. Lawrence River. She must reach Quebec City. We navigate the trails, get stuck in the waterways, and feel the impact of weather. We sympathize with her exhaustion and isolation. We can hear her smacking the swarms of mosquitoes and black flies.
Jacob and Maggie can only groan inwardly, wondering about the fate of each other. Readers expect opposing forces during this mid-seventeen hundred French and Indian War. But a unique formidable foe arises––a traitor obsessed with revenge. He morphs within his growing depravity, turning into a deadly enemy spreading havoc and death.
When we read the last words of the story, we are pointed to the next book in the series; we are left hanging in the midst of a crisis. So close, but not quite done. This reviewer is willing to wait for the next book for the outcome.
Blind Faith by S. Thomas Bailey is an outstanding historical novel in its accuracy, craft, and ability to resurrect dynamic characters who are struggling to live another day.