Interview with Author C.C. Humphreys + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome C.C. Humphreys, author of the totally enthralling Jack Absolute historical fiction series, including his recent title The Blooding of Jack Absolute (reviewed here).

Marlene: Holding up a new mirror to the American Revolution: by bringing Jack Absolute to new readers in the U.S., you’re also showing us a perspective on the war we don’t usually read about. What might U.S. readers learn?

The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysChris: Well, we all think we know the history of a war, or a revolution, until we start to delve a little deeper. I think Jack can be our guide in that. He’s not really anti-rebel. In The Blooding he fights beside the men that later in the series he fights against and finds that hard. He also has a revolutionary spirit, inherited from his mother, an Irish rebel. He prizes individual freedom. Thus he’s quite conflicted. So perhaps we can see through him the sort of choices people were forced to make. He has other loyalties: to the uniform he’s worn with pride, the Redcoat. To his commander, John Burgoyne. To his comrades. But he also believes – and this begins with The Blooding – that his adopted people, the Iroquois, are not going to gain from an American triumph, that they are better off under the Crown. It’s a big driver for him and he argues their cause passionately.

Marlene: As a fencer and fight choreographer (among other things), you know a thing or two about swashbuckling. What books/movies/TV shows best depict that fine “tradition”?

Chris: Ah, swashbuckling! I just wrote a novel, ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ about the Bard’s fight choreographer which will be published in the US in 2015. In it, my hero does a true ‘swash buckle’: he beats (swashes) his small steel shield (his buckler) with the flat of his sword to provoke a fight. He’s a real swashbuckler!

princess bride imdbI became an actor so I could leap around with bladed weaponry and I think I became an author to write the same – nearly all my novels have duels and swordplay. My inspirations? Well, Dumas and his Musketeer books certainly – the 70’s movie with Michael York and Oliver Reed was the best. I loved Flynn’s Robin Hood, (“You speak treason.” “Fluently!”) and Tyrone Power’s Zorro. Scaramouche was good in print and on the screen. But one of my favourites has to be The Princess Bride: great fights, terrific acting. Coupled with a real sense of honour. Honour’s important and the dishonourable deserve their come-uppance!

CC Humphreys as Jack AbsoluteAbout C.C. HumphreysChris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in the UK. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’.
His new adult novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’, about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer at the time of ‘Hamlet’, was released in the UK in March 2013 and in Canada August 2011.

He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. Plague and Fire are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015.

Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

To learn more about Chris, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.


Chris is kindly giving away a copy of The Blooding of Jack Absolute to one lucky winner! (US/Canada). To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
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.

My Review:

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.

Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysWhat 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.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Sneak Peak at The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys + Giveaway

Today I’d like to share with you a sneak peak from The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys. The author is also giving away three copies of the marvelous first book in this series Jack Absolute (Escape Rating A review here)! Look for the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.

Chapter 2: Reunion

The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysJack came along the track at a steady lope, thinking about Time. The Papists had won, it seemed, despite Englishmen expressing their displeasure, in flame and riot, the length of the land. Time had stood still. So though Jack had been hiding for near three weeks now, by some trick only ten days had passed on the calendar. He and Treve, his only contact, had scratched their heads a lot, especially when considering if they were now younger than they’d been. If that was true, it was not good. He needed to get older as fast as possible, for with age would come size and strength and these were requirements for the hard life promised.

Or mayhap it was the lack of food that was curbing his reason. It had been a day and a night since last he’d rendezvoused with his friend and Treve had brought what little his mother Morwenna could spare. Since then, Jack had made do with a fish he’d found washed up on the beach. That had made him sick, probably because he’d been unable to cook it properly.

Jack halted. The track plunged into a gully whose steep sides, lined in thick bramble, would be hard to scramble up. He might need to for two reasons. Firstly, the effects of that fish made frequent halts a necessity and he didn’t want to be stuck with his breeches down on a track this close to Absolute Hall. Secondly, Treve had warned that Craster was once again hunting him, after the period of restraint that had followed Duncan’s funeral. Treve’s dad, Lutie, and many of the others had tried to persuade his cousin that Jack was gone, had joined the fishermen in Penzance or even set out for the clay pits over Austell. But Craster was determined. A warrant had been sworn, blaming Jack for his father’s death. In fact, since that day, it was said that Craster Absolute had changed, had taken on attributes of the dead man. His voice had settled deep, he cursed Jack day and night, and he had begun to drink.

Jack’s bowels calmed, enough to shift his feelings to his stomach and its emptiness. He hoped that Treve lay up ahead with perhaps a pasty or another of his mother’s Figgy Hobbans. The memory of that last one—three weeks, or ten days before, whichever it was—now made up his mind. He hastened down the gully.

Rounding the bend, he saw Treve there before him. But his joy in the sight died fast as he saw that his friend was not alone.

“Seize him!”

Continue reading “Sneak Peak at The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys + Giveaway”

Review: Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: Historical fiction
Series: Jack Absolute, #1
Length: 276 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Date Released: May 7, 2013 (U.S. edition)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The year is 1777. As the war for American independence rages across the sea, London is swept off its feet by Jack Absolute, the dashing rogue in Richard Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals. That is, until the real Jack Absolute, former captain of the 16th Light Dragoons, returns after years abroad to discover this slander of his reputation.

Before he can even protest, he is embroiled in a duel over an alluring actress of questionable repute, and his only escape is the one he most dreads: to be pressed again into the King’s service—this time, as a spy for the British in the Revolutionary War.

My Review:

Jack Absolute’s character is written in a way intended to make the reader think of an 18th century James Bond. One of the later Bonds, at the point where he’d begun to get a bit tired of the game and developed some self-reflection.

I certainly got some of that. Jack is a member of a very old profession: he is a spy for the English crown during the American Rebellion. He’s been a spy before, and he is pretty much dragooned into doing it again, in spite of his stated views that us Americans do have some justifications for our actions.

If you’ve ever seen Sheridan’s play The Rivals, you’ve already met Captain Jack Absolute, and it’s quite possible that you have seen the play. It’s famous for the character who gave us the word “malapropism”. That’s right, Mrs. Malaprop supposedly guards the virtue of the heroine in this classic romantic comedy/farce.

Jack Absolute is the romantic hero of the play. In the book, Sheridan the playwright is one of Jack’s friends. He made a hit out of trivializing and romanticizing a real incident in Jack’s life.

Jack’s own life is not a romance, not that he hasn’t played the part of lovesick fool on more than one occasion. As a spy, he’s played whatever role suited the occasion best in order to fulfill his mission.

John Burgoyne by Reynolds
Portrait of John Burgoyne by Joshua Reynolds c 1766

This mission is in big trouble from the start. General John Burgoyne has been led to believe that there are thousands of Loyalists ready to take up arms against the Rebels as soon as he gives the word. And that equal numbers of Native allies are eager to march with the British Army for the usual inducements.

As history tells us, those assumptions were wrong. Jack didn’t have the advantage of history, but what he did have was several years of experience living in America, including living with the Mohawk. He knew those beliefs couldn’t be right.

Jack had a secondary mission; find the spy within the British command staff, codenamed Diogenes. He thought he was looking for a military officer, not the woman he loved.

Escape Rating A: I did think of James Bond, but mostly I thought of Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey.

The incredibly, marvelously immersive work of historical fiction that is Jack Absolute kept me flipping pages long past bedtime. The author does a fantastic job capturing the sights and sounds of Colonial America, and of 18th century life. I felt I was there and didn’t want to leave.

Plan of battlefield of Saratoga
Plan of the battlefield of Saratoga

The depth of the portrait of life in the British military at this time period was reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John Grey series. Same period, similar perspective and eventually, place. Also, Jack Absolute and Jamie Fraser (Outlander) both knew, and fought with, General Simon Fraser of Balnain. Jack and Jamie (read An Echo in the Bone if you’re curious) were both at the Battle of Saratoga, on opposite sides.

As an American, it is always interesting to read about the Revolution from the perspective of British. The histories written by the victors glorify the Revolution. The British called it a Rebellion. Perspective is everything.

I got swept away by this book, and not just because I found the period details enthralling, although I did. Jack was one of those characters who kept getting more and more fascinating as the book went on, because he was complex. He thought about what he was doing, he didn’t just obey orders. He was tired of the spy game and thought about what it meant, but he was good at his job. His relationship with the Mohawk people, and especially his blood brother Até, is not just a true brotherhood, but is also used as a way to explore the British and American relationship with the Native peoples and the devastation that is inevitably coming.

This review originally appeared at Book Lovers Inc.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.