Heights of Hell

The Gauntlet Runner Book V

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 05/30/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

If I had to describe Heights of Hell by S. Thomas Bailey in just one word I would use epic. The writing makes me feel as if I have actually stepped back into the mid 1700s, dropped right into the midst of a war where the enemy is just around the corner. Indians and frontiersmen fighting alongside the French and English armies. Sometimes the enemy is someone whom you thought was your ally, and mercy is sometimes given from the enemy!

It seems that fate continues to keep separating Jacob Murray and his wife Maggie. His only solace is that he has his son James, along with his faithful companions, One Ear and Joshua, with him as he continues to lead his troops, even though he longs to find Maggie and the rest of his children. When someone threatens his son, he will do anything to keep him safe, even if it means jeopardizing his own safety. Meanwhile, Maggie has her own set of problems. She was staying at One Ear's village when it was attacked, separating her from her baby son, Israel. She will do anything to find him, but is it enough? One thing's for certain - Maggie and Jacob long to be reunited and take their family home to Pennsylvania, but as long as the battle continues it seems that reunion may be an unattainable dream.

S. Thomas Bailey creates an easily readable story with Heights of Hell and his entire Gauntlet Runner series. The story seems so real that I sometimes forget that Mr. Bailey didn't actually live the story himself. His portrayal of the characters, along with the richly painted details of the setting, makes me feel as if I am watching the events unfold through the eyes of Jacob and Maggie. It is truly like stepping back in time to watch history in the making. Survival is something that no one is assured of, and harsh decisions are often made to ensure survival. The emotions of the characters are tangible, from the drama and desperation that Jacob felt as he wanted to protect James, to Maggie's drive to find her young son. The feelings are real, the characters so lifelike that it's hard to come back to reality and leave the characters when the book finally ends. While the story provides many heart pounding twists where I wondered how anyone would survive, there were also plenty of heart wrenching moments woven in as well.

I have been fortunate enough to read The Gauntlet Runner Series in its entirety, and I must say that S. Thomas Bailey is a master storyteller who knows how to bring history to life within the pages of this series. Before embarking on the journey of Maggie and Jacob, I have to admit I really knew very little about the time period because I always perceived it to be a dry, boring subject. Mr. Bailey has opened my eyes to the richness of the era and allowed me to learn so many things about this vital period in our country's history. Thank you, Mr. Bailey. I can't wait to read the next book in The Gauntlet Runner Series!

Trudi LoPreto

S. Thomas Bailey has done it again in his wonderful Gauntlet Runner series. Heights of Hell, Book V is the continued story of Jacob and Maggie and the battles they endure fighting the French, the Indians, and the conditions they are faced with daily. Jacob is pleased to have his son James fighting by his side. He is also lucky enough to still have Joshua and One Ear, his old and very dear 'just like family' friends, under his command and watchful eyes. Jacob is at the Fort in Lake George and just surviving is a full time job. It is 1758 and the war is raging; the British have come to help but they are unfamiliar with the way the battles need to be fought, which makes it harder for Jacob, his scouts, and the many colonial soldiers trying to remain alive and safe. Maggie is alone and in search of the young son from whom she was separated when the village she was living in was attacked. Her journey begins alone where she is forced to travel, protecting herself from the enemy as best she can, until she meets a young priest and his friends who become her traveling companions and willingly try to get her safely to Ontario.

Heights of Hell vividly portrays the battles, the hardships, and the true feelings and emotions of each character in this historically correct fictional story. I have read all of the books in the Gauntlet Runner series and truly feel as though each and every one is my friend and I am living the story with them. S. Thomas Bailey is one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait to read Book VI. I highly recommend Heights of Hell and the entire Gauntlet series; it will pull you into the pages and transport you back in time.

Kristie Ingerto

Heights of Hell is the fifth book in The Gauntlet Runner series written by S. Thomas Bailey. This continues the story of Jacob and Maggie, a couple in love and separated during the French and Indian War. Both are fighting for their lives and to survive, while at the same time trying to reconnect with each other. This part of the series is focused in New York during 1757-1758 and throughout this story Jacob and the other men are facing horrific battles and living in harsh conditions. This book begins with Jacob contemplating where he is at, where he wants to be, and the hurdles that stand in the way. Jacob is sharing his thoughts with his son James when he is given the news that the French are releasing their savages and Jacob must decide on his next course of action; and just like that the reader is swept back into the story and into the lives of these characters that have become so real throughout this series.

S. Thomas Bailey is such a talented author as the stories are filled with historical detail, realistic characters, and a strong emotional component that allows the reader to become immersed in the story and in the characters’ lives. Heights of Hell picks right up on the action and still at the end of the book the reader is left waiting and anticipating the reunion of Jacob and Maggie. I really enjoyed this book, especially due to the setting as I live in New York and the places were all so familiar that it was easy for me to really visualize them and have a picture in my mind as to what the areas must have looked like during this time period.

Maria Beltran

The Gauntlet Runner: Heights of Hell is the fifth installment in an award-winning series written by S. Thomas Bailey. The story unfolds during the outbreak of the Colonial and the French-Indian War in America. After years of British failure due to the ineptitude of its army officers, Jacob Murray is becoming disillusioned. A British officer abuses his son James and, upon learning that his wife Maggie bore him a son, James wants to go north to reunite with his family. In the meantime, he has to suffer the army and wait for the winter season to end. Maggie, on the other hand, finds solace in a small Indian village, but this will not last long. When the village is attacked by the Huron Indians, she is separated from her son and ends up in the company of three Frenchmen. This is a family whose fate is determined by forces that are largely beyond their control.

Fast paced and highly descriptive, this is a well researched historical fiction novel set in 1758, a tumultuous time in the history of the United States of America. The novel brings us back to the time when years of war and conflict separated families and made fighters even out of women and young boys. A period in history when two European colonial powers fight for a territory that is home to different Indian tribes. The situation is aggravated by the arrival of the early American settlers like the Murrays, who become unwilling pawns in a game of life and death. In writing this novel, S. Thomas Bailey remains faithful to history and this makes his novel informative and highly interesting. And as Jacob and Maggie’s family drifts physically farther from each other, the bond that ties them together grows stronger. Is this enough to bring them back together? This book is simply difficult to put down!

Rabia Tanveer

In Heights of Hell by S. Thomas Bailey, we witness 1758, New York. Jacob Murray is trying to find his way back to Maggie with his son James, while a deranged British officer wants to destroy him. Jacob Murray has no option but to go back to his Maggie. He has his son James with him, but with the defeat of the British army still fresh in his mind, he is determined to go through the wilderness inhabited by the French, get his wife, and go north. However, a cruel and manipulative British officer is after him and wants to ruin him. He decides to lay low, bide his time and wait for the opportunity to run away.

In the north, Maggie is forced to rely on the kindness of a French priest. She is searching for her family, but there is not much she can do from here. She is given an opportunity when she decides to travel north with three French brothers, in hopes that she might find her family there. Will Jacob and Maggie find each other? Or are they doomed to be separated by the enemy?

S. Thomas Bailey brings the fifth installment in The Gauntlet Runner series. Heights of Hell is filled with angst, but an angst that you can understand. Although I have not read the previous books in the series, I could easily understand what is going on. It was very surprising because most of the time, writers ignore the new reader and write a sequel without keeping in mind that a new reader will have difficulty in understanding the plot. Kudos to S. Thomas Bailey for nailing it! I really liked the novel. The author's linguistic prowess is amazing.