Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own.
No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love.
Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.
“Anna Catherine.” His cut, swollen lips barely moved over her name. “Do you still want me?”
She blinked. “What do you mean?”
“Are you certain this is the life you want?”
Her stomach gave a lurch of dismay. “Two Hawks … what happened today, surely it won’t happen again. Maybe Papa’s right. Maybe this was my fault. I’ll be more careful. I promise I will. I’m so sorry.”
That steady gaze was hard to bear, harder still to read.
“It is bad … how I look?”
“Yes.” She wouldn’t lie to him. “But nothing that won’t heal in time. Lydia’s sure of it, and so am I. You’ve some broken ribs. You’ll be in this bed for a time. But I’ll be right here all the while.”
He shifted on the bed, sucked in a breath, and went still. “Aubrey will let you care for me?”
“He hasn’t any say in it!”
“Anna,” Two Hawks began. She could see he was growing weary, expending precious energy in speaking. “He is finding his way. Be patient. It is you and me …”
Her throat ached. “What about us?”
“No clothes, or work, or name will change my skin.”
Anna let go his hand and sat back. She didn’t want to hear these words of Papa’s coming out of Two Hawks’s mouth, giving them the weight of validity. She leaned close again, fingers spread across his chest where the bruising was lightest. “If it’s going to be this hard for us here, then take me to your people. Where and how we live doesn’t matter. Only that we’re together.”
Her heart beat wildly at what she’d heard herself offer.
Two Hawks reached for her hand but only brushed it with his. Instead of the pleasure she’d hoped to see, a distance came into his eyes. “A man goes to live with his wife’s people. That is part of being Onyota’a:ka. I will need to change much, and I am willing. But not everything. Not that.”
“All right.” She thought desperately, seeking a way. The image of his mother, Good Voice, sprang to mind. “Then help me get a new family. Is there someone who would adopt me, someone of a different clan, so we can marry? Clear Day – he’s not Turtle Clan, is he?”
“He is Bear Clan.” Two Hawks’s eyebrows twitched. “You would do this?”
“To be with you? Yes.” She laughed through her tears, but Two Hawks didn’t even smile. He only looked at her, dark eyes searching her face. “Did you hear me? I said I would.”
Still he didn’t answer. He closed his slitted eyes and turned his battered face away as if sleep had claimed him. But she was almost certain it hadn’t.
This is, quite simply, one of the best historical fiction series I have ever read, and I do not say that lightly. The historical details are excellent, the writing is fluid and masterful, the characters are endearing and superbly drawn, and the story… well, that is perhaps the most powerful part of all.
Nothing I can say in a review will come close to conveying the richness and depth of these characters’ personal and spiritual journeys. I’m normally a quick reader, with most standard-length novels lasting me between one and two days, but with both books in this series I took almost twice that long because I needed to put them down more often; I needed to give myself time to absorb and reflect on the story, the emotions, and the spiritual truths; I needed to give the story time to breathe.
The story begins in The Wood’s Edge, and if you haven’t read that book yet, this review may reveal the outcome of some of its storylines (although I will do my best to keep this to a minimum). A Flight of Arrows picks up the story only a couple of months after The Wood’s Edge closes – in October of 1776. Feeling betrayed after learning the true circumstances of his birth, William avoids both Reginald and his Oneida family by heading north and joining a Loyalist regiment. It seemed a logical decision at the time, but he begins to question his loyalties when he learns that his regiment is to march through the Mohawk Valley – home to both of his families – with the chilling promise of twenty pounds reward for every rebel scalp taken echoing in its collective ears.
Not knowing William’s exact whereabouts, those he has left behind have little choice but to continue on with their lives, but for Anna and Two Hawks, their dream of marriage seems further out of reach than ever. It is the way of the Onyota’a:ka for a man to go and live with his wife’s people, and on this point, Two Hawks is unmovable. But neither Two Hawks nor Anna are prepared for the difficulties that arise when Two Hawks becomes Reginald’s apprentice. While Two Hawks accepts his situation with a quiet determination, his eyes fixed on the goal, Anna chaffs against Reginald’s refusal to open his heart to William’s twin after all these years of having raised William as his own, and allows bitterness to take root.
The tension shifts when word reaches them of William’s location. Two Hawks has already set out for the north, determined to bring William home if that’s what it will take to gain Reginald’s blessing, but now Reginald and Stone Thrower also set out in the direction of the British Army, determined to bring their son home and finally reconcile their families. The story reaches its intense climax at the battle of Oriskany and its aftermath, with a powerful, but bitter-sweet conclusion that will necessitate having a box of tissues on stand-by.
This story totally captivated me and beautifully illustrates the burden of guilt, the power of forgiveness, and the beauty of obstinate grace. I am only sorry that the above outline does not even come close to conveying the heart of this story – primarily because it would involve too many spoilers. You simply have to read it. That’s all there is to it. This is the epitome of inspirational fiction, and I’m sending the series straight to the pool room.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel through Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 19 April 2016
Author’s website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com.au/