Ben Stone has mastered being at the wrong place at the wrong time. His worse instance of bad luck yet – being framed as the murderer of the regional magistrate’s son – is what puts the book’s main plot in motion.
The chase is an intense one. Dogs and men alike are hounding him, and to make matters worse, the weather is absolutely terrible. Even as Ben is running, he knows escaping will mean never seeing his aunt, uncle, and the girl he was falling in love with behind. Then again, it’s perhaps a good thing Ben got away from Ruth, the girl he was falling for. After all, she’s the one who has framed him for her accidental murder, and she isn’t very guilty about the murder or the framing.
Thanks to quick thinking and the help of a friend, Ben is able to escape with a tangible plan, but getting away from his town doesn’t mean he has truly escaped. Being framed for the murder of the magistrate’s son, even in the 18th century, is the type of thing one doesn’t easily escape from.
Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t make it too far before he is kidnapped, rather spontaneously, by a group of people who make a living by hurting and stealing from others. While in that group, he meets Jenny, a girl who helps and falls for him. Even better, he still makes it to the town his friend told him to escape to, just…not in the way he expected to get there.
Again and again, Ben’s life takes another sharp turn, but little parts of his past continue to follow him. When Ben and Ruth give themselves to each other for the first time, Ruth tells Ben, “This means you’ll belong to me forever.” There’s a sinister note to her words.
In a sense, she is absolutely right.
Ben’s bad luck when it comes to being at the wrong place at the wrong time, however, works to his benefit. Each time he becomes part of someone else’s life as a result of being kidnapped or in a fight, that takes him further away from the town where he was framed for murder. His kindness, work ethic, and great looks also helps him get by fairly well no matter his circumstances.
Guilty of Honour is about survival and escaping from murder, but it’s also just the tale of a young man becoming an adult.
After the second kidnapping, I grew to expect that it would only be a matter of time before Ben was kidnapped again. Sometimes that anticipation seemed like a good thing; it gave me something to look forward to whenever the plot slowed down. Other times, my expectation that Ben would be kidnapped the moment he did something as small as slightly deviate from his normal way of doing things made that ongoing plot point seem contrived.
For the most part, I found the story easy to follow. The only sub-plot that really confused me was the one involving the first kidnapping, the one where Ben meets Jenny. Why did the man in charge of the group find it necessary to kidnap Ben and keep him along? I couldn’t understand why the leader went through all that work and pain to keep and hunt down Ben. There didn’t seem to be much of anything in it for himself, at least not when he first kidnapped Ben.
While I really like the plot and find the characters interesting, Guilty of Honour unfortunately has a number of grammatical errors. For instance, the following sentence is riddled with mistakes: “He glanced back to his brother’s house, remembering his youth and the fun and games he and Edward, had had with their five other brothers and two sisters, it made a shiver run through his whole body.”
Not all of the sentences are riddled with that many errors, but quite a few are. Still, the interesting plot and cast of characters made the errors tolerable. All in all, I really enjoyed reading Guilty of Honour.