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Drummer Boy


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I cannot say enough good things about the series Drummer Boy in the Adult-Youth section of Nifty. http://www.nifty.org/nifty/gay/adult-youth/drummer-boy/

This is the story of a young British drummer boy in Portugal during the Napoleonic wars. Wonderfully written, it has a believable cast in situations where a good book on Napoleon's misadventures is an essential thing to keep close by. The attention to detail is mind-blowing, quite a landlubber's version of Bolitho, Hornblower, and Aubrey-Maturin.

Most enjoyably, this is not a sex novel with the occasional battle thrown in. In fact, in the first 10 chapters posted thus far there are only two infinitesimal allusions to anything of the sort. No, this is a story about young men living in dangerous situations and responding as kids truly can.

Highly recommended.

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I strongly agree. I've been reading it on Castle Roland. Arthur is a fascinating writer and his story is both educational and entertaining. To see Thomas taking on greater and greater responsibility and finding strength that might elude an adult is captivating. Arthur has several other stories, including Evensong, which are similar. He would be a good addition to Awesome Dude!

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  • 3 months later...

Chapter 28 has now posted on Castle Roland and this excellent story has come to an end. Thank you, Arthur.

It says End at the bottom of the last page but there are strong hints that there might be a book two at some time in the future. If there is I shall have the enjoyment of reading book one again before moving on to Thomas' new adventures.

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I have been following this story since its beginning and could not praise it enough, but I am bitterly disappointed with the way Arthur chose to end it. It was such an abrupt end that I have the feeling he simply grew tired of writing it and wrote two or three paragraphs to bring it to an end. It is almost a betrayal of the readers who have invested the last seven months in the story. A note at the end says a Book Two will soon come, but this is still a disappointment.

I remember a debate on this board several years ago about what authors owe their readers. I know I was guilty a few times of not finishing a story or ending it too quickly when I grew tired of it--and my readers let me know! As a reader and a writer, I have been on both sides, but when I ended a story too soon, at least I felt a twinge of guilt. I do hope to see Arthur follow this up with a good Book Two. The character of Thomas Marking deserves more than this. I must acknowledge that Arthur has put a great deal of work into researching the story down to the positions of individual companies during the battles of the Peninsular Campaign. I acknowledge that he has done his homework and created an excellent work that deserves to be published. Perhaps, I feel so unhappy because he put so much into it that it was such a good story.

Despite the abrupt ending, it is worth your while to read Drummer Boy, the story of a boy who did his duty. it is moving and inspiring. I hope the sequel is not too far off.

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Lighten up, folks. The editorial note at the end of Chapter 28 says very plainly:

Arthur is busy writing Book 2, along with finishing up some other projects.

The Aubrey-Maturin series is in 20 separate books and indeed, at some point readers had to wait months between them. John Grisham's wonderful Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer series is at 6 books and, I hope, counting. The list goes on and on.

Yes, I am anxious to see what happens in Arthur's magnificent continuing saga of boys in combat on the peninsula, but I'm quite content with giving him some time to recharge his batteries. That's sometimes a necessary step to incredibly good writing: Write. Recharge. Repeat.

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I certainly don't begrudge him the chance to recharge, it was just the abrupt way the story ended that disappoints me. I knew the battle was going to be dangerous. I knew Beresford had no concern for the boys. I knew Mr. Percy had warned Thomas of the Generals' true freelings, but the fact the ending came so abruptly is what I found so disheartening.

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Yes, it reads like a screenplay for the last episode of a series on TV where they want to get series two made. Something that is rife in American commercial TV. And to a lesser extent, commercial TV anywhere.

I don't blame Arthur for wanting a rest, but we all would have appreciated a bit of closure, and would have read book/series 2 as well. This way though makes me less likely to, not more. You don't usually have a second chance if you insult the reader.

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This was a fun tale but not very historically accurate.

Everything in the British military at the time was about seniority in grade. He may have had the rank but, until he got a few years in grade he would have always been the most junior at that rank.

An Army Captain serves as a company commander or in a senior staff officer billet (G-2 or G-3). Our Captain is commanding a unit at battalion strength.

Where the story did shine was its depiction of "irregular" units. This one was run very, very lawfully under our good Captain. Most irregular units are little better than bandits. At their worst they are terrorists.

By treating civilians well "El Toro" became their champion and could count on their support even when legions of froggies were out beating the bushes looking for them.

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This was a fun tale but not very historically accurate.

Everything in the British military at the time was about seniority in grade. He may have had the rank but, until he got a few years in grade he would have always been the most junior at that rank.

An Army Captain serves as a company commander or in a senior staff officer billet (G-2 or G-3). Our Captain is commanding a unit at battalion strength.

I find it amusing that each of us focuses on things that are historically accurate/inaccurate about this fictional tale, but quietly, and delightedly, accept the underlying premise that a thirteen-year-old boy commanded a mixed regiment of foot, mounted, and artillery units during the Napoleonic Wars! Perhaps in the second book the author will eliminate the problem by having the hero garner his commission the old fashioned British way: he'll simply buy his commission with all of the funds he's getting from the French he defeats. Yes, seniority is important, but so is position.

The American military is not without its historic quirks in rank. George A. Custer, who graduated last in his class at the US Military Academy, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation. A year later he was promoted to Captain, but after six weeks was demoted to 1st Lieutenant. (How he skipped 1Lt seems a mystery.) But less that a year later he was given the brevet rank of Major General (commanding the American Volunteer forces), followed by a standard promotion to Lt Colonel, skipping Major. At the close of the Civil War he reverted to Captain, was subsequently dismissed from the Army for cruelty to his men, and after a year returned and rose to Lt Colonel and infamy in time for his last stand. It all makes our Drummer Boy look pretty pedantic in comparison.

As for accuracy/inaccuracy in fiction, I still mourn the fact that broomsticks actually do not fly.

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  • 1 month later...

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