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A Soldier Far Away

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A Soldier Far Away

A Historical Novel of the Swedish Campaign of the Thirty Years War
  • by Robert T. Hunting
    • Merriam Press Historical Fiction
    • 296 6x9-inch pages
  • eBook Edition
  • TBA
Ainslie Souter, a Scottish highwayman, couldn’t care less whether Protestants or Catholics rule the world. He’s barely escaped an English noose. Now he fights as a mercenary for the Royal House of Sweden. When things settle down at home he’ll return.

Hippolito Costello, a fiery Spanish priest, accompanies Catholic forces. He has no hesitation in using his Inquisition training to help his side. Torture and death can easily be justified against Protestant apostates.<p> Parallel lives, yet each man is changed in his own way by the war in this literary tale, A Soldier Far Away.

The story takes readers into the last great religious war on the European continent, the 17th century. Meticulously researched, A Soldier Far Away offers a grand sweep of the Swedish campaign in northern Europe, where Catholic forces seek to roll back history.

A Soldier Far Away offers timely motifs of all wars–heroism, cowardice, incredible vanities, and idiocy of leadership. Friendships and self-interests, morality and endurance rub shoulders on a daily basis. A collection of striking men and women, from the high to the low march through the pages, but the war is primarily seen through Ainslie and Hippolito’s eyes. Scarred by what they’ve become, both find themselves in an epic battle whose outcome determines their fate.

There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier,
who wandered far away and soldiered far away.
He'd seen the glory and told the story,
of battles glorious and deeds neforious,
but now he's sighing, his heart is crying
to leave these green hills of Tyrol.

—The Green Hills of Tyrol (Traditional pipe tune, lyrics added by Andy Stewart)

Historical Background

A Soldier Far Away offers an engaging account of a significant phase of the Thirty Years War, notably the Swedish campaign (1630-1632).

Perhaps one of the most peculiar and prolonged wars in the annals of military history, the Thirty Years War may be considered the end result of both the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements. The Catholic League, under the banner of Hapsburg Austria, Spain and Bohemia, and with the backing of Rome, sought to retake central Protestant Europe. Opposing it (at different times) were Denmark, Sweden, independent principalities—from Transylvania to the Palatinate, and (irony of ironies) France.

Much of the war’s savagery took place in what is now Germany and parts of northern Italy. Neither the Catholic nor the Protestant side ever held the moral high ground, yet both insisted God favored them. Those caught between the adversaries held different opinions, perhaps more in line with Shakespeare’s declaration, “a pox on both your houses.”

The war resurrected the Roman dictum; bellum se ipsum alet — war feeds itself. Few nations in the 17th century had standing armies, so relied heavily on mercenaries. Feeding and supplying them frequently fell short of intent. Unable to receive regular pay, food, or clothing, mercenaries took their frustrations out on the civilian population, while those in power turned a blind eye.

By war’s end in 1648, the fatigued and cash-strapped combatants reluctantly signed a peace treaty. The major signatories — Imperial Spain and Bourbon France — lost all pretenses of battling for men’s souls, and only spoke about political hegemony.

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