We’ve been having a clear out at home, a load of books and things that I’d put aside for car boot sale etc have all been turfed but some books that were among them and I saved were the first four books in the Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes. I’m not kidding when I say I bought these YEARS ago, I really mean years and years and so many times I’ve put them with the charity pile and hooked them back out again. I think maybe it was because the entire Kent Family Chronicles is a series of eight books, all of about 600 pages and the thought of beginning such an epic series was quite daunting. Nevertheless I really DID want to read them, so bit the bullet and started reading the first book, The Bastard.
This first book in the series begins in 18th Century France where Philippe Charboneau lives with his mother at a remote Inn. There is some question over his parentage and it is revealed to him when he is 18 that his father is an English Lord, The Earl of Kentland, who has recognised his son with a letter and instructed that Philippe should receive a part of his estate should the Earl die. Upon hearing word that the Earl is ill, Philippe and his mother travel to England the claim the inheritance. When they arrive they find that the Earl’s wife and son are determined that Philippe will not claim the inheritance and thus threaten his life on several occasions. Philippe decides that it would be better to abandon his claim to any estate and try and make his own way across the Atlantic in the exciting colonies of America.
After arriving in America Philippe – now having named himself Philip Kent – finds himself involved with the American rebels and tries to make a life for himself just as America is going to war.
I’ve already read some of John Jakes’ books, having loved the North and South mini-series, and that trilogy was a very easy read despite each book being a similar 600-odd pages long. One I actually determined to pick up this book it was also a very quick read. I really enjoyed the historical aspect, as I don’t know a great deal about the American revolution. Jakes seamlessly weaves his characters among the real-life revolutionaries and although he builds in a lot of historical details, but it is not too much that they become boring. This novel necessarily builds the foundation of the series so, perhaps doesn’t have as much action until it gets near to the end, but this is understandable with this being the first book.
The Bastard is a good beginning to what I hope will continue to be a gripping series, taking the Kent family right up to the US Bicentennial and I’d definitely recommend it if you have the time…
Edit on 9th Dec 2013:
I can’t believe I read this book so long ago! But anyway, I’m just editing to say that Audible now have an Audio Book version of The Bastard, narrated by Mark Vietor, and you can hear an except for free on their website.