Here is an excerpt from Padma and the Elephant Sutra. An unusual tale, rich in myth, densely woven into historical fact and science fictions with a soupcon of the fantastical. There is Padma, nature’s champion of hope, and George, who at 9 years old drummed 10,000 troops through Jamaica Pass. Follow them both on an immersive quest which will take them to ancient times and distant stars.
I have recently received my first review (UK) and would greatly appreciate more.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Brilliant book written by a budding author who deserves more recognition
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Images from Creative Commons
At this time George is 9 years old, two years accepted into the 45th Regiment of Foot as a drummer boy by Colonel Haviland. George now has an alter ego, Arthur, following the trauma of earlier experiences. He is travelling in a fleet of ships which have recently engaged with Fort Sullivan at Charleston and are now headed to New York to join the main invasion force.
Excerpt – includes some descriptions of violence in war
The fleet arrived late, steering silently through a salty armada. Four hundred anchors clasped tight to loosening bonds, as creaking silhouettes disgorged a kingdom’s wrath. Beyond the bobbing masts, an orange glow of many small fires warmed the belly of the unfurling beast. George could not believe his fledgling eyes. His alter ego Arthur, who by comparison was well acquainted with grand armies, inspected his fellow knights with pride. In the following days, Arthur banged his wooden drum with exuberance, issuing the captain’s orders. At night, a hesitant George listened to boastful campfire gossip with a youthful credulity. After one week the troops left Staten Island, regimental fifers and drummers leading their brothers-in-arms across the bay to Gravesend, unopposed. The largest amphibious assault ever mustered. Arthur accompanied the long feigning march to Jamaica Pass, a thick, red column snaking through the dark night. A red dragon, his very own to command. An artifice of ten thousand scales, contracting with deadly intent to puncture the pride of rebellion. He watched enraptured as his countrymen pursued retreating adversaries.
The young drummer continued to drill and manoeuvre his men while also helping out around the camp. It was during this first campaign, when in the habit of carrying a canteen to ease the suffering of injured and dying men, he developed a taste for rum. His abetters assured him it would strengthen his constitution and double his resolve, but to keep it from the officers. Fear had not left him since arriving on foreign shores, but he was no longer paralysed by the sensation. The grog would be his comforter in this hostile new world as he settled into the punctuated rhythms of war.
There were many extended periods of quiet industry in the camps, as soldiers cleaned and sharpened their butchering tools. George scrutinised men as they trembled, stifling their terror, only to break down in uncontrolled sobbing. As Arthur, he immersed himself in soldiers’ pain, soaking up tears like gunpowder in a wet charge. He beat his drum, transfixed, as disparate ripples of relative calm gradually merged into agitated swells of horses, men, and artillery. Then, rolling forward into overhanging crests of accumulated force, unstoppable, all exploded into short, crashing bursts of unimaginable violence. Flesh and souls contained within, exposed to every contrivance designed to belch inhumanity at any in its path. The intention being in its simplest form to render an assailant useless. The real horror of battle, as men hacked and jabbed and tore at each other limbs, revealed the pure pragmatism of such an unruly abattoir. No skilful carving on the butcher’s block. No clean, dressed cuts of meat. The watchwords, effective and efficient, not honour, or valour, or glory. The latter unfurled and paraded by victors having won the right to use them. George could see the effectiveness of shattering a man’s thigh bone or efficiently slicing off his face to ensure no deadly counter. His only refuge to such gruesome work was to open wide his flask and gulp, calling on his best friend Arthur to help him steal the day.
The campaign continued unabated for two more years. Arthur, now more in attendance, fought at New York, New Jersey, Brandywine Creek, Germantown, drumming his men all the way to Philadelphia. His campaign ended with a retreat back to New York the following summer, sailing back to Ireland in ’78. Despite no sure victory, at just eleven years old, his war had been a huge success. Of the near seven hundred men of his regiment who left for the Colonies, fewer than one hundred returned. George expressed no concern at the heavy losses; he felt numb, traumatised. Now changed beyond recognition, since the day his parents abandoned him to the Fates. But he survived and would continue to survive. He needed no-one else; he had Arthur, the Otherworld, and rum.