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Men of Grit Adventure #1

Brothers at Arms: Treasure & Treachery in the Amazon

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Lawrence and Chester Stoning are twins, but like Jacob and Esau of old they have little else in common. Lawrence is a realist, fascinated by the study of science, mathematics, and history, while Chester longs for the knightly adventures of chivalrous times past — hard-fought battles, gold-filled caves, damsels in distress.

When Chester’s impetuosity engages the unlikely pair as bodyguards to a Spaniard and his beautiful ward Pacarina, the twins quickly realize that the 19th century calls for a chivalry of its own. Protecting Pacarina’s secret leads all of them into the steaming jungles and dizzying mountains of Peru, a foreboding territory made all the more dangerous by Lawrence and Chester’s strivings against each other. Can the twins learn to trust God and work together before it’s too late? Or will they fall prey to the mysterious schemes of Pacarina’s enemy — an enemy they know nothing about?

304 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2012

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About the author

John J. Horn

7 books61 followers
As the youngest child in a book-loving family, it took me a while to realize that there was such a thing as a boring book.

My special love has been the fiction of 19th-century authors such as G.A. Henty, R.M. Ballantyne, James Fenimore Cooper, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, and more. Of course, these were imperfect men who wrote imperfect stories, but the themes they espoused, such as courage, diligence, mercy, protecting the weak, and fighting for the right has greatly influenced my writing. Although I don't seek to replicate their styles, I do find inspiration in their tales of adventure, and seek to communicate that in fresh ways to a new generation.

The greatest influence in my life has been my faith in God. I am a firm Christian, no 'buts,' 'excepts,' or apologies. My goal with each book is to glorify God and encourage readers to be more Christlike, even as they enjoy the action and adventure of each story.

My historical novels weave exciting plots into a background of historical reality. Most of my characters and their actions are fictional, but the world they inhabit is based on life as it really was. Technology progresses, fashions die or are reborn, the way we talk evolves (or devolves, depending on your point of view), countries gain or lose territory, and the world changes in many other ways through the centuries, but what it means to be a human being does not change. We face the same struggles, the same fears, the same temptations, the same victories, and the same joys as the citizens of Ancient Rome, or the knights of the Middle Ages, or the gentlemen of Victorian England.

Many complain that Christian fiction is “preachy.” Is mine? Well, I don't pause my stories to deliver diatribes or altar calls. But I absolutely do weave my faith in Christ into my stories and seek to communicate vital messages and themes in each novel. If a book doesn't have the potential to make you a stronger Christian in some way, it's probably not worthwhile reading. But that doesn't preclude action, adventure, and all the rest from any of my stories, because I find that a Christian's life is the most exciting of all.

I write mystery, intrigue, action, adventure, suspense, and wholesome romance.

I do NOT write blasphemy, cursing, magic, sensuality, evolution, or humanism.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews826 followers
September 6, 2017
Wowee! What a whoppin' crazy adventure story!

This is one of those books where the story really shouldn't work, and you wouldn't usually like something like it, but yet you do and it does. The story line is COMPLETELY unrealistic, yet it just . . . works. And you end up loving it. I am not really a fan of straight-up adventure stories like this one, but I still greatly enjoyed it!

The fact that the two characters were brothers definitely was the main draw that made me want to read this. I love sibling relationships in books; they are so underdone! Chester and Lawrence were such fun characters! The fact that they were polar opposites left lots of room for witty and hilarious happenings and dialogue, and Horn definitely took advantage of that. Of the two, Lawrence was my favorite, probably because he is the most like me. I loved his advanced, proper British dialogue, and the analytical way his brain worked. So funny, mostly because it reminded me of myself. XD Chester was great too. His dialogue was the more witty of the two, and I found myself grinning, if not outright laughing at some of his lines. The sarcasm, sass, and sheer wittiness of this book! Simply the best! Pacerina was always fantastic as well. The calm, steady, sweet, voice-of-reason type of character. I was shipping her with one character, then stopped, because . Then the ending was unexpected - and delightful, because it was so unexpected. All the hearts, people. <3

The plot was fast paced and crazy fun, and kept me on my toes. I couldn't for the life of my figure out who the antagonist was. I had my guesses, but they kept changing. XD

All in all, such fun! The reason I docked a star is because this isn't completely my type of book. I enjoyed it very much, but it isn't something I'd choose to read ALL the time. Also, there was some pretty blatant typos and formatting issues.

CONTENT NOTE: Recommended for ages 14+ for mild violence, and craziness. XD

Profile Image for Jayna Baas.
Author 3 books139 followers
July 16, 2021
Ordinarily this would be a four-star review, but I can't quite bring myself to knock off a star. If you're in the mood for adventure, chivalry, and heroic exploits, this story is for you! Scenes that I would ordinarily consider melodramatic or a bit of a stretch fit perfectly with the nineteenth-century classic adventure story feel, reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson and G. A. Henty. There was violence throughout, but most of it was passed over reasonably quickly. Once the action started, it was non-stop, from stagecoach robbery to pirates to Incan ruins—all the way through to the climax, which I read at such a clip that I still haven't caught my breath and figured out everything that happened!

I loved Lawrence's narration. It's probably the main reason I enjoyed this book so much. The Britishness, the big words, the humor, the sort of gentlemanly disdain of certain subjects (himself and his brother included). His descriptions of Chester and the Eyesore cracked me up. Lawrence records the story with a dry wit that had me reading lines to nearby family members. The push and pull of his relationship with Chester was fun to read, and I was glad to see them both learn and grow.

I really liked the way part of the faith element was handled. Rather than engaging in long arguments over Catholicism versus Protestantism, Lawrence simply pointed Pacarina straight to the Bible—and then discovered things he needed to change, too. At the same time, I wish it had been made clear that becoming Protestant is not necessarily the same thing as placing one's faith and trust in Christ. And while I'm on the subject of faith, I think there's good biblical precedent that Lawrence and Chester shouldn't have gone along so easily with the natives' assumption that they were divine beings. But, having never been in that particular situation, I can't say exactly what I might have done. I also had to get past the slightly nonstandard formatting of the print copy—odd paragraph format, blank pages between chapters, an occasional grammar/punctuation error. But it didn't take me long to forget all about that.

Now, the things I mentioned usually make for a four-star review, but I had so much fun reading this that I can't deny the five-star feeling I had when I finished. Call it four and a half stars, if you prefer. I just know I had a romping good time and would recommend this to anyone who's looking for a romping good adventure tale.

(And I now know what an opisthenar is. That deserves a star right there.)
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 40 books398 followers
June 24, 2013
Age Appropriate For: 10 and up for mild violence

Best for Ages: 10 and up

Where was this book when I was 11? I remember not being able to find any historical adventures that were appropriate for me at that age. Every fiction book I could read was either fantasy, mystery, or had romance. I hated fantasy, was tired of mysteries, and disliked romance. That is why I read so many non-fiction books in my tweens and teens.
Brothers at Arms is almost the opposite of every kid’s book today. It assumes kids are not stupid; that they can handle big words like ‘foreboding’ and the like. This book also assumes that there are those of us that enjoy books that are not centered around romance. It also is filled with God honoring principles that are hard to find in most Christian fiction.

The story itself was a page-tuner. It was one of those thick books (304 pages) that you wonder in the first two pages how it is going to stretch out for that long. Before you know it, you are reading the last page and wishing it had been longer.

I loved how the brothers interacted. Their relationship felt so real and was the source of some of the biggest surprises for me. How it develops and the lessons they learn were so much better than anything I expected.

The lack of romance was refreshing for me. Now, there is a girl in the story, and at the end of the book you get a very strong idea of what is in store for her and one of the heros. However, unlike so many books today, there weren’t any real mushy scenes, no kissing, no heart-stopping moments. You could read this to your eight-year-old brother, and he wouldn’t roll his eyes. We need more books like this.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Just buy a copy today! If you enjoy adventure stories that have little to no romance and lots of godly character, this book is for you.

I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn S..
244 reviews22 followers
April 22, 2021
Wowza . . . that was one wild ride, folks! I totally enjoyed this book, could totally see my brothers actually *wanting* to read this one, and it would be the perfect family read-aloud! For the friend that brought me this book and told me to read it, thank you :D

This was definitely an action packed adventure, and it was a quick moving story with things that just kept on happening. I loved the writing style, the voice it was written in, and the storytelling was fantastic. Even me, who has a hit-and-miss record when it comes to books being so adventurous they just aren't believable, but are still told like it really happened, really enjoyed this one, and I just can't wait to read the next one.

My favourite part was probably the relationship between the brothers, and how they became good friends through the story . . . although I WOULD like to know which is the oldest, and yes, I have my suspicions as the oldest myself =) (an ongoing thing in the story . . . read it and you'll understand!) I loved how the relationship went from being really rocky to really strong, and how the strengths and weaknesses of one brother were perfectly matched in the other one.

A four star read, and I can't wait to read more of these adventures!
Profile Image for Alicia Willis.
Author 8 books156 followers
December 4, 2013
4.5 Stars.

This lively, slightly improbable tale takes place in 19th century England. Lawrence and Chester Stoning are twin brothers, but they are as different as can be. Lawrence is an analyzer and deep thinker. Chester is a man's man, a bold fellow with a passionate thirst for gallantry. It is not until Chester follows one of his impetuous schemes and Lawrence dutifully follows him that the two brothers learn what it means to be brothers-in-arms - not brothers-at-arms. This bold tale follows the traditions of Henty with a splash of Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines". I also had flashbacks of "Robinson Crusoe".

I am not the type to always finish a book I start. If it is boring, I will put it down. Let me say this book kept me hooked to the very end. I laughed, I learned, and I experienced the hair-raising adventures on the edge of my seat. John Horn's dry, witty humor is evident on almost every page, as well as his clear love of history. I was very pleased with the historical aspects and was delighted to find a fellow author who knew so many little-known details. I also enjoyed the romance and knew exactly where it was headed from the very beginning, which was fun!

The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars was because I would have liked some more descriptions of the physical aspects of the characters, the geographic areas, and the depth of emotion. I do not say this critically. This is my own personal taste. I prefer more "show, not tell". For the most part, Horn "showed", but there were some instances I would have preferred more. Still, I realize this aspect of his writing style may be a part of the overall charm.

I applaud John Horn for creating a unique book appropriate for the whole family. I was delighted with the refreshing originality of the style and the creativity of the plot. Recommended for action lovers, teens, families, and history buffs.

I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. The sentiments above are completely my own.
Profile Image for Olivia.
674 reviews105 followers
October 30, 2015
When I first began to read this I hardly expected any of the events in this book to occur. The story reminded me of a Ballantyne book, although Brothers at Arms had more dialogue and was easier to read.

Lawrence and Chester are identical twins, but are about as different as they can get. Lawrence is a book-lover, while Chester is a man of action. When Chester goes off to join the army, Lawrence is told by his father to follow him and bring Chester back safetly. From there their adventures again and by the end I was sitting at the edge of my sit.

But you will have to read the book yourself to get all the details :) Chester and Lawrence reminded me a little of Wooster and Jeeves. At first their interests are completely different, but by the end they find common ground and work together.

For adventure lovers you will love this. Christianity is present along the way, along with just a hint of romance. Peru, searching for gold, evil men, an indian tribe, kidnapping, a cave... these are all part of this book.

A clean, interesting book that I highly recommend.

*Oh, and I was very happy that the British characters used the word trousers for pants :)
Profile Image for Morgan Giesbrecht.
Author 1 book48 followers
July 4, 2022

This was another reread because I needed a laugh, and I knew this story would deliver!

I adore Lawerence as a narrator, his quintessentially British dry humour, bookishness, introverted nature are super relatable for me, and as for Chester, he’s a total riot and kept me in stitches. For twins, they have a great bond, which progresses over some rough patches along the way, plus their stellar banter.

Both boys grew over the course of the story. They had their flaws and scrapes but learned and matured through their adventures.

Despite being perhaps a touch far fetched, the humour is spot on, the characters loveable, and overall, is just an enjoyable read. There’s a reason I love this series so much!
Profile Image for Lawrence.
2 reviews10 followers
December 4, 2015
This book was a thrill to read. The descriptions that filled this book were excellent and interesting. I love how the author used different twists in the story line to bring in different and unexpected scenes.

Definitely a five star, recommended read!
Profile Image for Micaiah.
155 reviews
January 6, 2019
Rating: 5 stars (because I love this book even after reading it four times)
Ages: 12/13 and up (for mild violence and some description of deaths)

This book is amazing, for more reasons than one. This is John Horn at his best.

Brothers at Arms: Treasure and Treachery in the Amazon is my favorite fictional novel. It combines action, adventure, multi-dimensional (and undercover) villains, suspense, God-honoring principles, and even the smallest bit of clean romance.

The twins, Law and Chester Stoning, are so fun. They've become two of my favorite characters. Law's studious and charming (in his own sort of way); Chester is gallant and brave and has a bit of impetuosity in him. Working together, they beat seemingly impossible odds - with Lawrence's knack for planning escapes and Chester's mastery of gun and dagger. I love it - that Law plans, and Chester does the actual fighting part. (But Law gets better.) And I love how their relationship changes over the course of the story - from being brothers who don't get along to friends and true comrades. I love the unique way Chester talks and the brothers' dialogue with each other throughout the book. And the Eyesore? That's just fantastic!

The plot and writing are simply amazing. I really enjoyed the setting changes - from England to the steaming jungles of Peru. John has chosen unique settings for each of his books, and they're big parts of the story itself. It makes the series a lot of fun.

It's funny to think that after having read this three times already, the last time I read it (being time #4), I still noticed something I hadn't before. I think sometimes I read too fast, so I miss fun details. Like the scene in the cave when the villain (I won't mention a name, just so I don't spoil anything) tosses the heroine, Pacarina, to the side, and Law catches her and hugs her. I mean, I hadn't even known that was there! It was a really sweet moment that I fortunately caught the fourth time around.

(Let this be a lesson to me to read slower and enjoy the detailing in all stories!) ;)

And the epilogue? It's such a great part of the book! I am really very happy that John included that! :)

The thing about the Men of Grit series, but particularly Brothers at Arms, that I love so much is the adventure - it's fast-paced, heart-pounding, and just plain fun to read. And Horn always adds a bit of humor. (Which is also incredibly fun.)

Law and Chester learn lessons in this book. They change and grow. They face trials, but they overcome them, all the while being chivalrous and brave. This book is what the world needs more of, honestly. It's exciting and funny and has a bunch of action scenes...

In the end, all of my rambling can't to do this incredible book justice. It will most likely forever hold a favorites spot on my ever-growing shelf of books read. My advice? Buy this book. Read it. Marvel at the amazing-ness. Then go get the next two books. I bet you won't regret it.

(I sure haven't! Buying The Boy Colonel was one of the best book-choices I have ever made. Ever.) ;)
Profile Image for Gabriella.
12 reviews
September 27, 2022
Brothers at Arms is truly one of a kind and one I really, really liked. The characters became your friends as you read (and the enemies became your enemies) and at the end I couldn’t wait to continue with the next book. John J. Horn truly did a wonderful job with this book and the message he wove in through the story. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book! My only disclaimer is the amount of violence, but truly, that’s only a minor setback. Great job!
Profile Image for C.R. Hedgcock.
Author 10 books84 followers
January 30, 2014
Brothers at Arms is an enjoyable story with characters one can relate to, villains who are a pleasure to abhor, a heroine with more to admire than good looks, and a race against time through the jungles of Peru. Not only that, but it's also a clean, God-honouring tale with a good conclusion. Simply thrilling.
Profile Image for Suzannah.
Author 27 books464 followers
October 24, 2012
Identical twins Lawrence and Chester Stoning have been brought up by an absent-minded father and socialite mother. Or rather, Lawrence has been brought up carefully (complete with an extensive, no-frills philosophical, historical, scientific, and medical education) while Chester has been left to follow his heart into an action-packed training in all the martial arts and ripping yarns of chivalry and adventure. Each brother disdains the other’s gifts, but when Chester runs away from home Lawrence dutifully follows to keep him safe. Before they know it, they’ve been hired to protect a Spanish merchant and his beautiful ward Pacarina, who guards a deadly secret locked in the heart of the Peruvian jungle.

Read the rest of my review at my blog: In Which I Read Vintage Novels
November 20, 2013
This book is amazing. I was laughing so hard sometimes because of the witty humor, and yet there were some very somber and serious moments. I loved the characters, and won't soon forget them. I love coming back to this book every so often, and enjoy reading all the parts over and over again. This book is an incredible read that will have you sitting and reading for hours on end, late late into the night, wanting to know what happens next. And excellent read!
Profile Image for Cassondra.
23 reviews6 followers
November 27, 2013
Just like the other book, The Boy Colonel, this book keeps you on the edge of your seat. You'll either have your heart begin pounding with the many dangers these two brothers face, or you'll be laughing your head off at some of the brothers' escapades...
Profile Image for Ellen Senechal.
Author 1 book62 followers
August 16, 2019
Okay, this book was suggested to me in high terms by a good friend. I'd been looking for a clean, healthy, and wholesome read, free of romance and filled with God's Truth, and I figured I might as well give "Brothers at Arms" a go.
The first twenty-some chapters dragged to me. The book was not my style, I was tired of Chester and Lawrence's strained relationship, and so far nothing...well...super exciting had happened yet. I was determined to finish the book, however, and boy, am I ever so glad I did! I don't want to give anything away (nobody likes spoilers, I'm sure) but I WILL say this: IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT.
Suddenly, right when I was sure the book couldn't be more boring, my hands were glued and my eyes were fastened. I kept flipping the pages. I just had to know what would happen next!
There's a lot of bloodshed, guns, knives, etc. in this book (all of which I don't really tend to fancy), but I could hardly notice, as everything else in the book was so, so good. God was continually mentioned, twists and turns and climaxes set in, and the twins were...yeah, I remember. No spoilers.
I would end this review with an extra flourish, but I haven't time. Right now, I'm too busy rereading "Brothers at Arms"!
Profile Image for Greta Slabach.
100 reviews2 followers
March 21, 2019
I know these are teenage boy books. I knew that without reading them. But I have loved them so much...laughed and cried a little.
They are still favorites, even after so many reads...
Comedy, drama, adventure, brotherly rivalry and love, romance, Christian morals...these books have it all and in a form that all ages can enjoy.
Profile Image for Bethany (CozyLittleBookNook).
570 reviews32 followers
December 14, 2021
These books will sweep you off of your feet, they are so good, My mom read then to me and my siblings when I was little and I still remember them almost ten year latter. John J. Horn's books like Douglas Bond's book, they just both have a way of sucking you in and staying with you through out the years I am here for it. I need to reread them ASP.
Profile Image for Elijah.
5 reviews6 followers
September 7, 2017
This book (along with the other two in the trilogy) were amazing! Well written, and the characters are great! Of course, the plot is really, really good, as well!!! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!
Profile Image for Nat Kidder.
135 reviews
November 23, 2020
Imagine Indiana Jones as two 19th Century English country squires. Horn breaths new life into a shopworn plot/setting device. Nice mix of plot and introspection.
Profile Image for Nathan .
7 reviews
May 5, 2018
The cleverness and action could earn this book another star, but unfortunately, the serious moments are pretty much blown off in a rush to get back to the action. Still, that's better than if there were no serious moments, so I still found it worthwhile and fun.
Profile Image for Violet W..
42 reviews5 followers
June 28, 2022
I'm not sure I can find words enough to say how much I like this book, but here goes!

The writing style, storyline, and humor are so awesome! I was surprised to find out how much I still remembered after four years. Faith elements are brought in well, and feel so real-- something I don't often say about books. Honestly, it's a good thing I bought these books for my favorite person in the world, because I'm not sure I could give them up to anyone less.
This is so refreshing after too many "girl" romances. I find the growing love between the twins more touching than nearly all of the abovementioned idylls. Not that the romance facet was bad- the opposite!- just that I don't get that too often, and it makes the book for me!
I will note that it does include some fighting, injuries, death, etc. Personally, it made no very great impression on me, but it might for some.
Profile Image for Melissa.
831 reviews87 followers
June 3, 2017
This is an exciting read, hard to put down most of the time!
A few parts seemed a bit unrealistic and/or out of character, but otherwise it's a rip-roaring good read, and sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride. I like the humorous moments and unique character traits. It somewhat reminds me of an Indiana Jones movie (but much better because it was from a Christian perspective). And the epilogue is great--I laughed! There are a few things I could possibly quibble over, but overall it is very well done.
Profile Image for Mikayla.
902 reviews
February 21, 2020
I loved this book. It is such a classic adventure book, with a strong Christian theme and loveable characters. The pace is a lot faster then I'm used to (slow books are my happy place) but I did love the change in pace. This author's writing style is fantastic and it gave Law such a unique voice.
I fully enjoyed this, and it's one of the few books on my shelf that I can say I had no real problems with.

I would recommend this for 13+ for mild violence.

Also, how has it been seven years since I read this first?? I still remember it really well. I had no idea it had been that long.
Profile Image for Jeremiah.
17 reviews
January 9, 2019
This is an awesome book. I'll probably reread it again sometime, but for now I think its great and would recommend.
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