This book is about the battles between two religions, the reformed Catholics, and the Protestants. While reading this book, you are on the side of the Protestants, you see what they got from the battle, you grow a closer connection to those characters of the story that are on “your side.”
The main character of this book is a young man named Malcolm Graheme. At the beginning of the story Malcolm is only about sixteen years old, when he and his uncle get asked to get a bunch of men and boys armed and ready to fight the reformed Catholics under the just king Gustavus. During the book Malcolm gets stronger, smarter, faster and older as the war continues. He faces many struggles, seems to get himself in tangles all the time. One of these tangles I would like to share with you: After a large battle, in which the Protestants have won, the army begins to make it back to their camp. But after such a large victory, many have been killed or injured, and almost all of the men are very tired after the long struggle. So the moving goes slower than usual, the men having to gather there weapons, and help the wounded, the Catholic villagers, or in the book called peasants, seeing that they are weakened at the moment decide to do them harm, by killing some of the wounded, attacking, capturing, and torturing the men, in terrible disgusting ways. Malcolm, being in charge of his own small brigade, or band of men, has gone to make sure they are doing what they are supposed too, finding any of their comrades that are wounded and helping them, and to not raid and plunder the villages, goes into a village to inspect it, finds food and drink in a small house and is welcomed by the sight of it. He goes to take a drink and eat when he is attacked from behind by three elderly peasants. His men noticing he is gone search everywhere for him but are not able to find him, because the old ladies had gagged him, tied him up, and put him underneath a hay pile at the back of the house. Malcolm is then tied up for, a few days and held hostage by these old grandmas. (Remember to always be kind to the elderly or this might just happen to you.)
After the men return the the village, (they were gone attacking the Protestants and were doing who knows what) they decided to torture, and kill Malcolm. But like I said earlier, Malcolm had become very smart, over the years being able to keep cool and think of a plan. He comes up with a very smart plan, to take a burning hot stick from the fire, and burns the rope around his hands. This hurt tremendously seeing as he was also burning his hands and wrists at the same time as the rope.
He then takes his weapons, the food and ale, then makes his big escape while the peasants are away in the village. He ends up saving other soldiers, from his own brigade who had been attacked and were about to be tortured to death before he rescued them. (One of the men had already been killed by the peasants, in the most horrific, disgusting way, that it made my stomach turn just by reading about, so I won’t tell you, in faith that you’ll keep your lunch.)
One of the saddest parts in this book is when King Gustavus dies. They are in the middle the biggest battle in the entire book, when Gustavus is shot down, and killed. During this fight Malcolm almost dies as well, being shot twice, and having fallen on the ground, is mistaken as being dead, and so is left on the battlefield. He awakens, frozen to the ground, the blood from the shot he took in the arm had ran down his arm unto the grass, but that night it was so cold that his blood froze to the ground, and him. Some hours later he is found by some men who are looking for the wounded on the field and he is taken to the camp and treated for his wounds.
While being hurt, and recovering, one of Malcolm’s friends, the Count of Mansfeld, invites him to stay with his family while recovering, this Malcolm accepts right away.
Towards the end of the story, the Count of Mansfeld, his wife, and her daughter, are taken by the king and stored away in a small town, in a building, with many guards. The Countess secretly writes to Malcolm and asks him for help, but knowing that he might not come has only a little faith that he can help them. Malcolm puts on a disguise and goes to the small town, pretending to be a clock fixer, he sets up a fake appointment with the Count, who is “stressing because his clock has stopped and he must be able to count the hours as they tick by”. Malcolm then agrees that he can’t get the Count and Countess out but he can save their daughter, Thekla. Malcolm and the Count have a serious talk about how Malcolm does truly care for the girl, enough to marry her. The Count then promises Thekla to Malcolm, if he were to die before he could give permission, and says his wife will not interject, both of them thinking highly of Malcolm.
The story ends with the war settled (kind of, seeing as both of the religions are still mad at the other), and Malcolm and Thekla have a small wedding, and live together in a small, but still generous house and grounds, with the Countess. Sadly the Count did die, before being released.
There are many other adventurous that take place, many that are very big, but I would like to leave it as somewhat of a mystery, as to encourage you to read the book yourself and “live” through those adventures yourself. Do take my word for it though, that this book might be long, but it is definitely not boring.