James Gawley’s epic Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire is a book that takes a bit of time to develop but when it does (about a chapter and a half in) you are hooked! Now, the long development time could definitely be my own slight aversion to historical fiction (that is not a romance), but Gawley’s character become more fully fleshed out as the story progresses and the reader gets sucked into the mystery and suspense of the internal unknown dynamics that he finds himself in.
The main character ‘Little Seneca’, the General’s son, draws your sympathy but touches your sense of pride and justice as the story unfolds. He is a child born from an unfortunate circumstance that has created mixed feelings towards him by both of his parents. While he is loved, there are so many old wounds surrounding his birth and his mother, Little Seneca’s father has a tough time even looking at him.
Little Seneca is now part of the infantry called the Dead Men of the Legionnaires and is tasked with having to shuck off his father’s tarnished reputation and make his way up the ranks on his own – a difficult task in that time. However, being the General’s son makes it even harder as he has invisible enemies who know the past intimately and were affected by that past to the point of intense vengeful actions.
In between snippets of the past from older soldiers who have taken Little Seneca under their wing to present day aggressions directed at Little Seneca Exiles of Arcadia makes for fascinating reading. The reader is drawn smoothly and deeply into the past and becomes immersed in a world that is both foreign and familiar simultaneously.
High drama brings this story to a close and a path to be taken…or not is the ending. This is a really wonderful read that envelops the reader in a warm cloak with a pelt-collar.
Not convinced? Read an excerpt of the book here.
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