In this standalone short story, a prequel to Michael Arnold's acclaimed series of historical thrillers The Civil War Chronicles, we meet battle-scarred hero Captain Stryker, 'the Sharpe of the Civil War', as a young soldier. 'Stands in comparison with the best of Cornwell' Yorkshire Post
It is the autumn of 1630, and Innocent Stryker has completed his first year as a soldier. But life as part of a regiment of mercenaries is hard and cruel, while the brutal war destroying mainland Europe has shown him horrors he never thought possible. Stryker has few allies, and much to prove.
When his company are assigned an apparently simple task - collect a spy at a remote ford and bring him safely back to his Swedish masters - Stryker seizes the opportunity to distinguish himself.
But unbeknown to the mercenaries, their enemies in the Catholic League are already aware of the spy. They have enlisted the help of Sweden's old rivals, the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth and, as Stryker's mission goes bloodily awry, his company are shattered by the most fearsome cavalrymen on the continent; the winged husaria of Poland.
In the terrors that follow, Stryker must make his choice. He must run, or he must stand and fight.