Have you ever heard of the Minutemen? I had not until 'Fantasy and Science Fiction' published a story about them. The story turned out to be part of a novel which Del Rey and the author decided to provide electronically for free a few months before the publication date. The story was interesting enough (and I am yet to get to writing the review for the issue that contained it...) so I picked up the novel to see if I might like it. My expectation was to have a novel talking mainly for the minutemen and their battles and could not have been more wrong. And this was a pleasant surprise.If you had not heard about the minutemen, you might want to check this before reading the novel but it's not really needed. It just adds a new layer of understanding of the whole situation. And it would be a good idea if you know something about the Boston Tea Party and it's consequences.I will try to write with as little spoilers that I can but there will be some spoilers....The novel opens in April 1775 in Boston where we meet the main protagonist Proctor Brown who had traveled to the big city in order to meet his sweetheart's father. The meeting is more than predictable - the father is a rich businessman, the boy is about to inherit a small farm and is as away of the world of the rich men in Boston as possible. Think of any such meeting in the world literature and you would be right -- including with the warning of the father's attitude when he finds out that the young man has some plans for expansion). But even though it is predictable, it serves its purpose - we see Boston as it had looked like back in these days, we see what Proctor believes in and we get to see something from the conflict that is starting between the locals and the English soldiers.But this opening chapter does not introduce only Proctor. Another character, that will reappear a few times in the novel and that will be a reason (or an excuse - depending on how you look at it), also shows up for the first time - Major Pitcairn. He looks like an ordinary officer - except that Proctor sees something different and a demonstration proves that he had been right - there is something magical around the major. And apparently there is also something on Proctor - because he is the only one that can see it. One of the people that had been with the officer tries to give a logical explanation of what he had seen - and even though Proctor does not believe it, a reader might. If they had not read the story first. Because our hero is something like a witch -- with limited powers and with not so much knowledge about what he is.What follows is a classical battle story - for the English soldiers trying to break the militia and the militia not really allowing it. That was the part that had been separated as a story and which gave me some expectations of what the novel will be. I had already read it once (as a story) and I did reread it in the novel - I knew exactly what will happen and I still liked reading it. The magical part of the story was a small part of the whole of it and the battle scenes sounded realistic enough... but I am no specialist. It was fun to read so it worked. And it started the real story - by the actions of Proctor and by what happened(or did not happen) to PitcairnBut once it finishes, there are not so many battles(short of one more towards the end) and these battles are just a framework around the story.Because the story is about Proctor and his witchcraft. The revolution around him is just the setting where we see all of it and gives him a quest to follow that allows him to show his full (or is it the full?) potential.Most of the witches in these days are hiding their powers, making sure that noone finds out what they can do, making sure that they do not end up burned or hanged. That's one of the reasons why Proctor manages to make a tone of errors early in the novel and all the good guys need time to be convinced that he is playing on the same side as they are. It just would not have shown the true character of the guy if it was not for it. It was nice to be read but I wish it was a bit shorter and it did not require so many deaths to convince everyone what should have been clear to anyone living in the real world. Except that it turns out that our second protagonist had not really lived in the same world - it is not a parallel reality or anything but it is a way the witches had found to allow them to learn about their abilities and still not to get killed. And not everyone is what they look like. I loved the way the witches had found to make sure that they help the people with abilities. It is a popular way to help people that need to be saved from something nowadays but I am not sure if it had been popular or even happening back in these days - I am almost sure it was not so it was a really nice way to incorporate a comtemporary concept in a historical novel without it sounding out of its time. Even if this had been a valid way to deal with them, I still think it is a great way to tie up the different parts of the novel.The story has a traitor that is presenting themselves as someone loyal (and of course it is not who everyone suspects even though once it is revealed, everyone remembers that they should have known from some early signs), there are zombies (that DID surprise me – I did not expect zombies more than I expected to see a space ship (no space ships in the story)) , ghosts, cursed people, a bad witch that together with her group tries to control the world... and a couple of very resourceful young people - our protagonists. Some of the story is heartbreaking, even cruel – I am not sure why so many people had to die (and I am not talking about the soldiers). It made some choices easy for Deborah (our second protagonist) but she would have made the same choices even if some of these deaths had not happen. However - they did and the world she had used to live into is shredded to pieces. And she does not even need to make the choices.The part of the story that was in the farm was probably one of the best parts of the whole novel - and probably the most original. At least for me. The slow revealing of who is who and what they do there is building the suspense in unexpected ways and makes the novel different from most of the fantasy books - not with having the witches in one place or with teaching them - but the whole concept and the reasons for most of the actions there.The journey to Boston that follows is almost expected and the final battles (both on the magical field and on the real battlefield) are a nice closure to the novel -- the magical one leaving enough open doors for the next novels and the real one closing the sequence started at the beginning of the novel. Both final battles are somewhat predictable (one of them because I did not think that this will end up being an alternative history novel where the wrong people win during the revolution; the second because it was a nice crafted magical duel (of a kind) where the bad forces wanted to use someone that had to stay alive so he can help in the real battle. And it took me by surprise who the bad witch turned out to be - no clues in the text before it, not even a small hint to put someone in the right direction (or I missed them).I enjoyed the novel and the changes of speed during the whole of it. I am not sure if most of the fantasy readers will really like the zombies scenes - most of the ones I know do not care for zombies at all but they kinda made sense and they were what allowed Proctor to see what is happening later on. Or so it looked like.The historical part of the novel was fascinating and I liked some of the small explanations (the difference between militia and minutemen for example) and some of the hints. I read some things about the period after I read the short story (I got interested and I usually like history so it looked like a good reason to look up some facts) so the novel was amusing. I wish the publisher had added a map with the places they were talking about or going through - it might be easy for an American to judge distances and what they are talking about but I got lost a few times (and did not want to look up at an external map)As I whole I liked the novel and I am expecting the other 2 novels from the trilogy. I hope that there will be less predictable parts than the first book even though I expect to enjoy them even if they do.