Formats available: ebook, large print hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback
Genre: Historical fiction
Series: Jack Absolute, #2
Length: 303 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Date Released: November 5, 2013 (reprint edition)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Before he can become a man, he must first learn to kill…
London: 1759: Life is easy for Jack Absolute, a young raconteur loved by the ladies and envied by his schoolmates. With a place secured at university and a baronetcy at hand, his future seems bright—if he can just stay out of trouble. But when Jack is caught read-handed with a powerful lord’s mistress, his good fortune is destroyed, forcing him to seek a new fate in the dangerous New World during the brutal Frecn and Indian Wars.
There, marooned amid hostile Indians and fierce colonial rivalries, the bawdy schoolboy disappears and a man emerges. Jack’s survival depends on winning the friendship and help of the natives, but those come at a high price. In order to become the man they could eventually trust, Jack Absolute must first be blooded. And in order to be blooded, he must do the unfathomable. He must learn to kill.
The Blooding of Jack Absolute could be called “the portrait of the spy as a young man”, or even as a “young sybarite” or even simply as a young fool. Although the man that Jack has become by the time we read of him in the first book in this series, Jack Absolute, would probably be willing to admit that nearly 20 years later he has yet to outgrow being a fool.
What fascinates in this “biography” of the fictional character of Jack is that we first saw the man he has become in the absolutely enthralling Jack Absolute (reviewed here) and now we start to see the making of that man in The Blooding of Jack Absolute, set against the backdrop of Britain’s conquest of Canada, and consequent loss of those colonies that became these United States.
Jack starts out not unlike Tom Jones (the one by Henry Fielding, not the 20th century singer!) and finds himself in a career that resembles an 18th century James Bond.
This book is labeled both as book 2 in the series and as a prequel, and it works either way.
If you’ve already read the first book in the series, and wondered how Jack acquired all of his various skills and rather unique worldview, this story provides both fascinating backstory for the character and a compelling view of mid-18th century London and her Colonies.
If this is your first introduction to the series, then you have a marvelous coming-of-age story, featuring a character who is both fascinating in his own right but is also a witness to, and occasionally an actor in, some of the events that shaped what became our future.
Escape Rating A-: As with the first book in the series, The Blooding of Jack Absolute definitely has a “you are there” quality in the historical aspects that often brings the sights, sounds, and occasionally smells of the 18th century to the reader with the force of a punch. We are with Jack all the way, sometimes to the point of wanting to shake him when he’s being the young fool that is a necessary part of his blooding.
Having read the first book, the part of this story that I was happiest to see was the explanation in full of how and where Jack met his blood brother Até of the Mohawks. It is clear from the first book that they must have shared a life-altering experience as equals, but not how that experience came about. Now we know.
There is definitely a comparison to be made between the Jack Absolute series and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Lord John Grey series. Not in the romance department, because while Jack falls in love, he does not have the luck of Jamie Fraser, but in the depth of the historical research and in the author’s ability to bring that research to vivid life for the reader. The series also overlap in time period, sometimes covering the same campaigns from different perspectives.
Anyone who enjoys well-written historical fiction will adore Jack Absolute.