British actor Humphreys imagines further adventures of the character he once played in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals.
Jack Absolute, who features in the Irish playwright’s popular 18th-century comedy, moves from stage to historical fiction in this breathless adventure, packed with sword fights, battles, dastardly rivals, disposable women and more narrow escapes than a cat has lives. Simultaneously the son of an Irish rebel, a Cornishman and Daganoweda of the Mohawk, Jack is reunited here with characters from earlier episodes in his life. At his side stands trusty Até, an Iroquois warrior and blood brother given to quoting Hamlet and the Bible. The narrative opens with a duel in which Jack encounters arch-villain Count von Schlaben, a member of the Illuminati, a secret society with suspicious intent toward the American Revolution. Jack sails with Até to Quebec to serve the British forces as a spy, code-breaker, messenger, swordsman and all-around brawler. In his free time, he’s the lover of lovely Louisa Reardon. Redoubtable despite his innumerable wounds, captures and escapes, Jack fights at the Battle of Saratoga, then moves on to Philadelphia, where he must kill a spy working to undermine the British forces. Suave, sexy and superhuman, Jack could be an 18th-century prototype for James Bond. The author’s affectionate, theatrical tale sets up his dashing hero and faithful sidekick for a long series.
Much derring-do, told with panache.