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Posted on Nov 22, 2004 in Books and Movies

Sparrowhawk Book IV: Empire – Book Review

By Brent Schubert

Sparrowhawk Book IV: Empire
Edward Cline
MacAdam/Cage, 2004

This novel is the fourth of a planned six part series of historical fiction about the causes of the American Revolution, and the war itself. This book focuses on the political events in Virginia during the mid-1760s. Beginning with the Proclamation of 1763, which limited settlement beyond the Appalachians. The main events of the story are focused around Parliament’s passage of the Stamp Act in 1765, and the reaction in the Virginia House of Burgess. This is the story of political intrigue and corruption, with the tension of a court-room drama as the characters debate the political policies that will lead to revolution.


In Caxton, Virginia, Hugh Kenrick, an exiled aristocrat from England; now wealthy Virginia planter, joins the House of Burgess in Williamsburg to combat Parliamentary abuses of liberty. Jack Frake, a smuggler from England, now also turned Virginia planter, friend and neighbor to Hugh Kenrick, is resigned to watch and wait for the revolution he knows will come. While in England, Dogmael Jones MP, a friend of Hugh and his father, fights the passage of the Stamp Act in the House of Commons, with all his powers of oratory. Other minor characters include Patrick Henry, a young law student named Thomas Jefferson, and burgess George Washington as well as other historical figures.

This is great historical fiction, full of period detail and historical accuracy to convincingly portray the political struggles between England and her colonies which lead to the American Revolution. The story is conveyed mostly by dialogue. The language used by many of the characters is accurate to the Enlightenment, full of allusions to classical literature and history. As there is little introduction to the characters, the reader is expected to be familiar with the previous three novels in the series. There is however, enough detail to piece together the character’s relationships and circumstances without too much difficulty. I highly recommend that you read the first three novels, before this. The experience will be much fuller and more rewarding.