Young Rob Winston is deemed too small of stature and unsoldierly to take his place in the military ranks of the American Revolution. All he is seen fit to do is to become the sexual comfort and treasure of Colonel Seth Hampton of the army of General Nicholas Herkiner in the Mohawk Valley campaign. With the help of the Indian subchieftain and scout Otetiani, however, Winston endeavors, by taking on the role of spy, to show that his talents in enticing the desires of men are more than enough to turn the tide of war. At war’s end, however, he must choose between his colonel, the Indian chief who has mastered him, or the runaway slave, Jeremiah, to whom Rob himself has become a slave.
Dirk Hessian delivers again an original and unique short story. It definitely has its own very particular flavor. One way or another it will not leave you indifferent. This very vivid, attractive and shocking tale could have been called The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Young Rob Wilson.
The story takes place at the end of the 18th century, in the Suffolk area between Virginia and North Carolina, on the eve of the rebellion when the colonies of the New World are beginning to slip irremediably from its British masters' greedy hands.
In life there are leaders and followers, masters or slaves. Young Rob is undeniably the weaker party both in body and mind. He has always been a frail and fragile child and his father, who is his only living parent, has always taken great care to shield him from a very harsh and rather unhealthy world. He has great future plans for his only son. Winston senior's tavern is not the ideal place to raise a child and even less when a very large portion of its profit comes from gambling, not to mention female and male prostitution. His father tried his very best to keep his son out of this depraved environment. Fate decided otherwise and what would happen, happened. Rob has grown into a handsome, red-haired, milky-white skinned and sensual-visage of a man and catches the eye of a virile and bold male prostitute. Without knowing it, he has had a certain effect on men, but he has yet to discover what he wants or what he desires. Rob's first encounter is more or less forced on him but this is just the beginning of a long series! The day he lost his innocence but it is replaced by an awareness that, without knowing it, has always been at the back of his mind and he comes to the realization this is what he wants and who he is.
This is only the outset of a very eventful journey. His path is clear, he isn't fit to fight in the militia, but he has very special skills and he is very gifted; someone notices it at one point and gives him the opportunity, at last, to help the colonial rebellion in his own way. He'll be part of it, but not with a rifle in his hand. He'll become a very personal aide of the very handsome Colonel Hampton! Well ... he has always wanted to help, he knows he can do it! And he'll do everything to make his Colonel happy ....
It is far from over. There are a few twists and turns and more tests and hardship to come. Rob surely can't have expected such an adventure when he accepted this task and even less that it will lead him so far and that it will be so hard. Against all odds and instead of seeing him collapse and disappear forever, after all he went through, he comes out very much alive! Appearances are often misleading, because who would guess that in this same young man you would find such resilience, determination and even courage? The slight and fragile young man is no more—life has changed him for the better.
At the end of the book, he will face his first big decision and he'll have to make a choice. What kind of life does he want and with whom?
I was not sure at first if I was going to like Rob or not. He definitely doesn't fit any standard mold, but, after all, it takes all kinds to make a world and everyone has a place and a role to play. As the story progresses, however, you see him evolve, you understand him better and slowly you are able to appreciate who he is and what he achieves and why. Like it or not, he indeed is involved in the rebellion in his own special way, he uses the tool that he knows best: his own body! And it works. Yes, he has the need to be controlled and mastered and it will never change but as long as he finds the right Master ... because let's face it, without one he is totally lost.
Once again, I'm amazed how the author was able to tell so much in such a short story. It's definitely very skillful. There are a whole string of unsavory characters in this story that accentuates the great insecurity and danger of the era not to mention a lifestyle yet very uncivilized.
A lot of difficult and unpleasant things happen but there is also some humor and irony here and some lessons to be learned. Once again it's an interesting, intriguing and disturbing tale. It is definitely worth being read. I give 4/5.