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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Once Left the Field of Valor by R.C. Sprague is the story of Lieutenant Damien Shaw who lost all his soldiers in a battle. He lives with the guilt of not having been able to protect his own. But a blood-stained envelope, a letter from a dead German soldier to his lover intrigues him. Unable to part with it, Damien sets out on an impossible mission. He sets out to discover who the recipient is. Will he find redemption at the end of this penance?
Intriguing and deeply moving, Once Left the Field of Valor is a beautiful story that explores the deeper meaning of guilt and how it affects the human heart. The characters, especially the protagonist, are elaborately developed and they are filled with humanity. There is a strong sense of realism permeating the narrative. R.C. Sprague has a way with words and I loved how the language captures the reality of guilt and exposes the inner workings of the hearts of the characters.
The plot is well imagined and executed with mastery. There is emotion, there is humanity and there is realism, qualities that bring a story very close to readers. I had the feeling that the protagonist is someone I know, because of the skill with which this story is written. The novel is suspenseful and filled with surprising twists. Once you meet Damien, you become interested in discovering what happens to him ultimately. The end is surprising and utterly delightful. I couldn't stop reading until the very last word.