Benedict Arnold: Good Guy or Bad Guy?

Anyone who knows me will attest to my love of history … which was why I created the Stone Ends series in the first place. It was my chance to travel back in time and, with the help of Jason, Tatiana, Paul, and Reis, see for myself what happened—those critical historical events that shaped the world we live in.

So here’s my confession: when I started the whole process of writing  A REBEL’S STONE, I actually didn’t know that much about the men and women who participated in the American Revolution. Sure, I knew the names and faces plastered on our American currency … but what did I really know about General Washington, Benedict Arnold, and Ben Franklin? I knew I wanted to write this book—this was, after all, the one I’d wanted to write first!—but I needed to know the people I was writing about. I needed to understand them, get a feel for who they’d been, figure out what they might do when faced with some kids from the modern world and their quest to save history as we knew it.

I needed to do research, just like I’d done with KEEPER OF THE BLACK STONES. And with that in mind, I hustled down to my favorite bookstore, bought several books on the American Revolution, sat down on my favorite couch with highlighter in hand, and got to work.

What did I learn? As I mentioned at the end of Keeper, history isn’t the same as, say, math. There are no absolutes. One person’s interpretation of a historical event can be wildly different from anyone else’s. People might have all seen the exact same situation, and come out with completely different ideas of what happened. If you have brothers and sisters at home and have ever been faced with the necessity of explaining to your mother exactly how that vase broke, I suspect you’ll know what I’m talking about! And what that means for me is that I had to choose the events I wanted to write about, learn as much as I could from all the different viewpoints, and then make them my own.

Of course the same thing happens with the characters themselves. Who did I want to feature? Who would be good, who would be bad, and who would be downright boring? And as I did my research on the men and women we’ve come to know in our history classes, from both sides of the war, I started to find my way. The story started to grow. It all started with Benedict Arnold.

What do we know about him? In school we were taught that he was simply a traitor. For years, anyone labeled treacherous or untruthful was referred to as a “Benedict Arnold.” This was the guy who tried to turn the American colonists over to the English, and his very name has come to mean disloyalty. But what if I told you that Benedict Arnold was actually one of Washington’s best field generals, before he turned his coat? What if I told you that many historians would tell you that without Arnold’s accomplishments on the battlefield, the outcome of the war would have been far different?

What if I told you that I could present Arnold as a sympathetic figure, who spent a vast majority of his fortune on feeding and clothing the soldiers he led, and was beloved by them for it?

It doesn’t change the things he did, in the end. But it does prove my point: that history is written by the winners, and once it’s written down, few people go back to find out what really happened.

All of which brings me back around to my original thought. We might not actually know as much about history as we think we do. We might not even know the truth

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. Was Benedict Arnold really a good person? Is there a chance that he could have led a good life, but for a few extenuating circumstances that put him on the wrong path? Could he have been a man who saved Paul’s life, in the right situation?

Or was he a turncoat from the start, buying things for his soldiers only to curry favor with them so that he could, in the end, betray the colonies to the English and win his way into a fancy house in London? Is he, in short, the kind of person who—instead of saving Paul—would turn him, and Jason, and perhaps even Tatiana, over to Dresden in the name of making friends and saving face?

Could he have proven a danger to history, if he was a bit smarter? Might he have stopped the American Revolution, with an ally like Dresden? Is he the sort of person Jason would have to stop to make sure that revolution stayed on course?

As always, I suppose you’ll have to read the book to find out. But I can promise you one thing: It’s going to be one hell of a ride for Jason, Paul, Tatiana, Reis, and Doc. And this time, they’re not all coming home.

 A REBEL’S STONE will be released August 4.

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Our First Sneak Peek for Broken Stone!!!

The impact took the air out of his lungs and the sound from his ears. A fireball had erupted on the floor above, consuming plaster, wood, steel, and men with its deafening roar. The second concussion caused by the Hellfire missile drove Reis Slayton to the floor, breaking three ribs in the process, but saving him from the debris that ripped through the air. He glanced up in time to see a piece of wall the size of his body rip through the room’s furnishings out the glass wall, into the courtyard. That had been close

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The taste of burnt carpet, blood, and ash filled his mouth, and he choked for a moment before realizing that he could breathe once again. In a daze, he placed his hands under his chest and lifted himself off the floor. Plaster, concrete, and pieces of loose insulation lay around him, but no structural beams had fallen. He’d been lucky about that. A collapse would have killed him immediately.
Within moments, the flames were gone; diminished by the lack of oxygen in the room. They left behind a deep haze of smoke and ash, colored with the scent of blood and destruction. Dead men upstairs, and more on the other side of the wall, he thought. Too many dead men.
Yes, he’d been lucky. The result of the Hellfire was horrific. How he’d survived was a mystery, if not an outright miracle.

Broken Stone
A Stone Ends Adventure
PT McHugh, April 1, 2014

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. I promise I have some entries about touring and what it was like! In the meantime, though, I have some pictures of kids and books, b/c people are buying the book and we’re starting to see it on B&N shelves! Check it out!

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Kick Butt Blog Hop

Kick Butt Blog HopI used to live a normal life. The sky was blue, the football jocks were arrogant, and my best friend was crazy. It was all rather boring. Until things … changed.

Then I was racing through time, trying to save the world. Medieval knights, torture chambers, stones that jumped into the past…

I’m Jason Evans

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Last Sneak Peek!

It’s time for our last sneak peek before the release, and I can hardly believe it

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. This is one of the first scenes where my favorite character really struts her stuff! So without further ado…

Reis crept along the path ahead of us, sticking to the wall as he approached the gate. Paul, Tatiana, and I followed, doing our level best not to be seen or heard. The gate towered above us, built from rough-hewn logs and iron spikes. More spikes lined the top to create a solid row of razor-sharp metal, ensuring that people went through the gate rather than of over it. We slid into the darkness below the wall and I gulped, the eerie silence of the shadow creeping slowly up my spine. The gate to the courtyard was where we’d find the most soldiers, I knew; it was a feature designed to keep intruders out, and was manned as such. But I had no doubt that it was just as effective at keeping prisoners in. And if we couldn’t get out, if we were still here come day break…

We made it through the partially open gate and onto the path outside the castle before we were caught. I heard a sharp gasp behind me, followed by the sound of a struggle, and whirled around to look back the way we’d come. A tall, dirty soldier in a tattered red and white uniform stood behind Tatiana, his arm around her body and his hand across her mouth. He was at least a foot taller than the girl, and marked with the scars of many battles. A rusty, bent sword hung loosely at his side, but he held a sharp dagger in his hand, close to Tatiana’s side.

“A lady shouldn’t be out this late in the day,” he slurred, turning his mouth toward her ear and grinning. “I’ll need to know exactly who you lot are, and what you’re about.”

I sucked my breath in, glancing quickly from the dagger to the sword, then up to the soldier’s face. I saw Reis to my left, moving his hand slowly toward the knife I knew he had in his boot, and heard Paul mumbling under his breath. My gaze flew back to Tatiana’s face, and I caught her wide eyes.

She looked at me for a moment, raised one eyebrow, and then winked.

“Oh no,” I breathed, my voice catching in my throat.

Before anyone else could move, Tatiana threw her hand over her shoulder and grabbed the man’s wrist, crouching down and spinning in the same movement. The soldier flew over her folded body, hitting the ground on the other side with a sickening, bone-crunching thud. He shouted and jumped to his feet, snarling in surprise and anger. Tatiana pressed her lips together in displeasure and circled her opponent, looking for another opening. When she saw him pause, she dove in and grabbed his dangling left arm, shoving it up toward his shoulder. The shoulder popped loudly as it dislocated, and the man screamed. She drove her foot into the soldier’s knee, bringing him to the ground, and finished him off with a solid blow to the head with her other foot. The solder fell on his back, out cold.

Tatiana looked down at the man, her mouth quirked to the side. “The name’s Tatiana, mister,” she said clearly. “I’m no lady, and I stay out as late as I want.”

“What the –” Paul cut his statement short as another soldier came rushing from the wall next to us, armed with a 6-foot lance. Reis swore under his breath and stepped quickly between Tatiana and the second soldier. He sidestepped the soldier’s strike, planted his right foot in the dirt, and swung his left leg up toward the man’s face. His foot connected with the soldier’s temple and sent the man crumbling to the ground, the lance falling harmlessly at his side.

For a moment, no one moved. Then we whirled as one toward the wall, waiting breathlessly for a third attack. Reis kicked the lance away from the unconscious soldier, swung his rifle from his back to his chest, and aimed the weapon at the half-open gate in anticipation. Tatiana remained in a fighting stance, both hands held up in front of her and legs slightly bent. I bent down and picked up two likely looking rocks, trying to remember anything I’d ever learned about throwing. Beside me, Paul stood slack jawed and staring.

No one else emerged from the gate, though, and I wondered how long they would take to notice their missing comrades.

“Let’s not stick around to find out,” Reis mumbled, echoing my thoughts. “Run.”

We broke and ran like startled deer, racing toward the town in the distance and the shelter it offered. No one looked back.

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Win a Signed Copy of Keeper of the Black Stones

Win a signed copy of Keeper of the Black Stones! We’re hosting a giveaway of three signed books and two signed bookmarks to celebrate the book’s birthday!

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Richard III’s Skelton Found!

This is crazy! Richard III is one of the main characters in Keeper of the Black Stones, and now they’ve found his bones right there in Bosworth! Putting this on my list of things to see…

LEICESTER, England — In one of Britain’s most dramatic modern archaeological finds, researchers here announced on Monday that skeletal remains found under a parking lot in this English Midlands city were those of King Richard III, for centuries the most widely reviled of English monarchs, paving the way for a possible reassessment of his brief but violent reign.
Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on a project to identify the bones, told reporters that tests and research since the remains were discovered last September proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the “individual exhumed” from a makeshift grave under the parking lot was “indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.”
Part of the evidence came from DNA testing by the geneticist Turi King, who told the same news conference that DNA samples taken from modern-day descendants of Richard’s family matched those from the bones found at the site.
The skeleton, with a gaping hole in the skull consistent with contemporary accounts of the battlefield blow that killed him, was exhumed in the ruins of an ancient priory. It was found in the same place as historians say Richard III was buried after perishing at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
At the news conference on Monday, researchers showed photographs of the skeleton as they found it, stuffed into a grave without a coffin, clearly displaying curvature of the spine as chronicled in historical descriptions of Richard III’s appearance.
DNA samples from the remains had been compared with the DNA of two descendants of the monarch’s family, the researchers said. One of the descendants, Michael Ibsen, is the son of a 16th-generation niece of King Richard’s. The second wished to remain anonymous, the researchers said.
The team from the University of Leicester said that the body displayed 10 wounds, 8 of them in the skull and some likely to have caused death, possibly by a blow from a halberd, a kind of medieval weapon with an ax-like head on a long pole. Other wounds seem to have been inflicted after his death to humiliate the monarch after his armor was stripped away and he was paraded naked over the back of a horse, the researchers said.
Since at least the late 18th century, scholars have debated whether Richard was the victim of a campaign of denigration by the Tudor monarchs who succeeded him. His supporters argue that he was a decent king, harsh in the ways of his time, but a proponent of groundbreaking measures to help the poor, extend protections to suspected felons and ease bans on the printing and selling books.
But his detractors cast Richard’s 26 months on the throne as one of England’s grimmest periods, its excesses captured in his alleged role in the murder in the Tower of London of two young princes — his own nephews — to rid himself of potential rivals.
Shakespeare told the king’s story in “Richard III,” depicting him as an evil, scheming hunchback whose death at 32 ended the War of the Roses and more than three centuries of Plantagenet rule, bookended England’s Middle Ages, and proved a prelude to the triumphs of the Tudors and Elizabethans

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In Shakespeare’s account, Richard was killed after being unhorsed on the battlefield, crying: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”
Officials of the University of Leicester said plans were now in hand to bury the bones in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, barely 100 yards from where the bones were found. A spokesman for the cathedral said that reburial would likely take place early next year as part of a memorial service honoring Richard as an English king.
The bones were first located when archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar on the site of the former priory and discovered that it was not underneath a 19th century bank where it was presumed to be, but under a parking lot across the street. The remains were located within days of the start of digging.
John F. Burns reported from Leicester, and Alan Cowell from London.

And here’s the link:
Really have to wonder what he would say if he knew what went on with his body and skeleton after he died…

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Back To The Future Blog Hop

   I used to live a normal life. The sky was blue, the football jocks were arrogant, and my best friend was crazy. It was all rather boring. Until things … changed.

Then I was racing through time, trying to save the world. Medieval knights, torture chambers, stones that jumped into the past…

I’m Jason Evans. I’m ten days shy of my fifteenth birthday, and this is my story…


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