A young Scottish nobleman reaches manhood in Victorian Britain, becomes a warrior in the Crimean War, and learns the true meaning of ‘Glory.’
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Here is one of those rare novels that completely transports the reader to an unforgettable time and place in history. Follow Me to Glory is the story of a young Scottish nobleman’s journey to manhood in Victorian Britain and to becoming a warrior and a leader. In the fall of 1854, one of the bitterest and most mismanaged campaigns in military history is about to begin. The attention of Britain is focused on the Crimea, where victory will be won or lost. Captain Ian Carlyle, magnetic, professional and audacious, prepares to lead his men into harm’s way against the brutal Russians. You will live it with him as he comes to terms with the chaos, and appalling truth about courage, duty, and the terrible price of glory. In the end, as Ian emerges a veteran of many engagements, he discovers that it isn’t about glory…only kinship, an intense commitment to those in your charge, and plain, simple survival.
Ian felt the shuddering blows strike his horse’s chest a tick after the two not-too-distant musket cracks. He heard the awful thwacking sounds as the lead balls hit flesh. The gallant animal collapsed on his left side, pulling Ian down with it, into the muddy ground below, pinning his left leg under hundreds of pounds of horse and a tangle of saddle and stirrups.
The pain was knife-sharp, deep, and unbending. Bloody hell, he thought, if it’s broken, I’m a dead man. He struggled to free himself from the numbing weight, which pressed the leather straps and the sharp brass buckles of the harness into his leg.
Ian stretched his neck to look over the dead horse’s back, through the mist and rain, saw them coming at him, fast. There were six riders thundering down, Cossacks by their long cherkeska coats, cartridge loops across the chest, and grey fur caps. Some carried long deadly lances pointed his way, others brandished large curved swords. Ian knew he hadn’t long to live unless a miracle happened, knew these fearsome warriors would show little mercy.
The miracle was standing over him, preposterous in its elegance. He looked up and saw his friend, Captain Lewis Nolan, calmly and stylishly astride his mount, gazing with haughty distaste at the oncoming attackers.
Ian shouted, “Lewis, for God’s sake give me some help here. I’m a bit stuck-in.”
A cracking tale - a fine yarn, well-written and packed with action
Review in The War Correspondent, Journal of the Crimean War Research Society – April 2007 (Vol 25, Number1)
Compared with, for example, the Peninsular War, our own war has generated very little in the way of fiction. We have Gary Kilworth’s series of adventures involving his aristocratic Sergeant, surprisingly now selling in the United States even more successfully than they do in UK. And the present writer, for one, was driven to fury by a famous lady author’s encroachment on holy ground by supposedly setting a book in our war but totally ignoring basic facts and landing a photographic van with the main body at Old Fort in September 1854, and so on, historical howler after another. Does it matter? To lay readers who have not the faintest idea of what really happened, perhaps not, but then why purport to set the scene in a historical context? We have all reacted with derision to films in which actors have carelessly left their wrist watches on while representing Ancient Romans. So, yes, I do believe that a historical novel should be as close to what really happened as possible.
As if to prove my point we now have an excellent example of how to get things right in a new book, Follow Me to Glory. We have another hero, Ian Carlyle, a young aristocrat, initially an engineer officer but later transferring to his family regiment, the Scots Fusilier Guards, and this time every detail has been meticulously checked by the author, a member of our society, Will Hutchison. Will has, appropriately for a military historian, a Gettysburg address, and now lives in Pennsylvania, USA. He served for twenty-six years in the US Army and Marine Corps so has the best possible background for describing action scenes as they really are: the pit of one’s stomach was, I am sure, as affected in black powder days as it is now.
He knows the regiment well and has friends there of all ranks. Further, his character was purportedly educated at Eton College so Will spent many hours there absorbing its culture and customs, and had his final script read critically by an O.E. Other society experts, all acknowledged in the Preface, were enlisted to check their own areas of expertise.
The result is a cracking tale - a fine yarn, well-written and packed with action. His meticulous research of every detail makes the story a great background to conditions in the war and I recommend it to all.
Major Colin Robins OBE FRHistS
Editor Emeritus, 'The War Correspondent'
Journal of the Crimean War Research Society
Post Script: Since writing the above, I have heard that Will's book has been chosen as a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (2006) for fiction.
Outstanding historical research underscores a well thought-out story
Clarion Review (ForeWord Magazine)
Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)
Ian Carlyle, a second son of minor Scots nobility, sets foot on the shore of Crimea equipped with superb training, a hunger for acclaim and a chip on his shoulder. The character evolves and learns difficult lessons about himself and the true nature of war. He acquires the skills of all-out fighting from Billy Murphy, an Irish soldier of fortune, but combat techniques are only part of what’s required. There is a psychological catalyst for Ian’s drive, rooted in a tragedy during his formative years, and in a subtly shifting metaphor revisited throughout Follow Me to Glory, Ian summons the courage and intensity of a leopard.
The Crimean War was fought for reasons of tangential national interest. Disastrously mismanaged by the British government, the soldiers’ suffering prompted the formation of the International Red Cross. Hutchison uses Ian’s staff officer position as a device to move him around to the most compelling parts of battles. The author points out incompetence and intra-service malevolence where it exists and doesn’t shy away from describing reprehensible conditions of trench warfare: “...the putrid stench of filth and decay. He saw with sadness their sunken, hollow eyes, the grey pallor of their skin, chapped and cut lips. The deplorable conditions were sapping them of their energy, their dignity, their pride. They looked like stooped old men, twice —three times their age.”
Outstanding historical research underscores a well thought-out story. Experts from various institutions and military units were consulted. The author strives always for clarity, even including maps of troop movements. The copy is squeaky clean and the effort at Briticizing dialogue could hardly have worked out better.
Will Hutchison picked up base knowledge of military customs and tactics as a career officer in the United States Army and Marines. He’s a historical researcher, lecturer, photographer and participant in reenactments of battles. A planned sequel will transplant the hero into the American Civil War. Follow Me to Glory is recommended for readers of military history, and for more general fans of crafted fiction as well.
Reviewed by Todd Mercer
Hutchison’s writing is passionate, riveting, and full of action and conflict, with stimulating dialog
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (6/07)
Award-winning author Will Hutchison has written a detailed fictional account of the battles of the Crimean War of the mid-nineteenth century. This is the story of preparation and training in the early military career of Captain Ian Carlyle. Young Ian is compelled to fulfill his destiny to become a company commander in the Scots Fusilier Guards to lead men into battle and to have them “follow him to glory.” His story includes a coming-of-age theme, a romantic interest, and the ultimate opportunity -- to lead men into battle.
Faced with the brutality of the Russians and the shortages and chaos of the men in the trenches, Ian comes to terms with the truth about courage, duty, and the price of glory in human suffering including the cost of lives lost.
Hutchison has done extensive research on the troop movements, artillery placements, and tactical strategy used in the battles of Alma, Inkerman, Balaklava, and Sevastopol. He has included detailed diagrams of these battles, as well as maps of the Turkey and Crimea area in 1854.
Hutchison is an entertaining storyteller. He imparts historical information with amazing dexterity, and is a powerful motivator. By example, Ian Carlyle inspires the reader to follow their dream, to fulfill their destiny, and to face their circumstances with new courage and confidence.
In addition to Ian Carlyle’s character, Hutchison shows an amazing insight into human nature as he carefully develops individual personalities for a cast of dozens of major and minor characters introduced throughout the novel “Follow Me to Glory.” Hutchison’s writing is passionate, riveting, and full of action and conflict, with stimulating dialog, a
powerful plot and meticulous research.
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