The story takes place in the 1680s and begins as the hero, Andrew Garvald, while on his way to Glasgow, takes a cut across the moors, and meeting Elspeth Blair, and a religious fanatic known as Muckle John Gib.
Later Andrew encounters Ninian Campbell, coming to his aid when Campbell is attacked by ruffians in a Glasgow back street.
Andrew is sent by his uncle as his merchant representative to Virginia where he initially experiences hostility because of his attempts to reform trading practices. In addition, he is looked down on by 'respectable society', being only a merchant. Among those who so regard him is a Mr Grey who has an interest in Elspeth, who has also arrived in Virginia
Through contact with Ninian Campbell, also in Virginia, who had promised Andrew his help should he ever find a need for it, Andrew learns of a danger threatening the people of Virginia because of an anticipated Indian attack. Campbell, known locally as Red Ringan, arranges for Andrew to meet up with a man called Lawrence - exiled and living among the Indians - who tells him more of the Indian threat and seeks his help in establishing a network of contacts who will form a defence against the threatened danger.
The story climaxes as a hazardous journey is undertaken by Andrew, Ringan, Shalah - an Indian warrior - Grey and two others. They also later meet up with Elspeth. A stockade is set up for their protection, but then Andrew and Ringan set out to bring a warning to the people of James Town. But as they travel the two men are attacked by the Indians who kill Ringan and torture Andrew. However, his fortitude under torture wins the respect of the Indians, and with the further help of Shalah - who turns out to be of the same tribe - he confronts the white man who is behind the troubles.
All ends well, and in good romantic tradition Andrew and Elspeth are married!
Duncan Johnstone March 2001
Salute to Adventurers is one of John Buchan's early adventure stories. It is a rattling good yarn in the typical Buchan manner with a young man, Andrew Garvald, unexpectedly caught up in a cycle of events which carries him into contact with a wild preacher and his eldritch group of anything but Sweet Singers in the Lammermuir Hills of Scotland, a beautiful girl whose word frees him from the prison cell into which he has been thrust by the dragoons and a desire to stretch his wings in his uncle's business in the emerging American colony of Virginia. There he encounters the classic Buchan elements of people who are more than they seem, conspiracies, shadowy figures whose names can only be whispered in certain places and hanging over all a grave threat to the survival of the colonists from Indian forces massing beyond the mountains and controlled by a mysterious European figure. Needless to say, through a chain of skilfully-worked events, Andrew Garvald saves the colony and wins the lady. It is a first-class tale which was written in the same year as The Thirty-Nine Steps and has certainly been overshadowed by that greater story with its more contemporary appeal at the time. Salute to Adventurers is finely crafted with meticulous research and Buchan's genius for creating the sight and the smell of the countryside and particularly of his beloved hills as it urges the reader through the dangers to the triumphant conclusion.
Alasdair Hutton April 2001
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