Once a Knight: A Novel of Aerial Combat and Romance in World War I

General Fiction

By Walt Shiel

Publisher : Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC

ABOUT Walt Shiel

Walt Shiel
Although born in Michigan, Walt Shiel was raised across the US and around the world as an Air Force “brat.” He started school on the Pacific Island of Guam during the Korean War and finished high school in France during the Vietnam War. Shortly after graduation, Charles DeGaulle kicked More...


World War I: Air combat is invented in the blue skies above the muddy battlefield.
May 1917: America is gearing up to enter the brutal conflict, and the Sopwith Camel is entering combat service. Many individual Americans, however, have long since signed on to fight the war.

In 1916, Everett Ross quit the Texas Rangers and traveled to England to join the Royal Flying Corps, trading his horse for a Nieuport pursuit biplane. No stranger to violence and death, now-Lieutenant Ross duels with German pilots in the pristine skies above the grimy trenches where foot soldiers fight for victory foot by bloody foot.

Between dogfights, Ross loses his heart to a young French beauty whose domineering mother fights her own battle to protect Geneviève from this American cowboy wearing a British uniform. Ross soon must decide between love and duty, between orders and necessity.

This fast-moving story combines romance and combat action in a land knocked out of kilter by a deadly war often seemingly without objectives. The combat sequences are told as only an experienced military pilot and historian can. Walt Shiel, long fascinated by the rapid evolution of aerial warfare in the First World War, has studied innumerable books and articles written by the men who flew and fought in the Great War. His understanding of aviation, combat tactics and their development brings the aerial scenes to vivid life. His knowledge of how those knights of the air lived, loved and died puts the reader in their flying boots and cockpits, complete with the emotions that drove them, the doubts that haunted them, the death that stalked them.
"Military aviation was first employed in the bloody European skies of World War I. Once A Knight by Walt Shiel is a work of deftly written fiction that brings riveted attention to the story of a young man by the name of Everett Ross who resigns from the Texas Rangers in 1916 to join England's Royal Flying Corp to engage in deadly duels with German aviators in the contested skies of the Western Front. Along the way Everett meets Genevieve, a young French girl with whom he falls in love. Author Walt Shiel creates authentic combat sequences drawing upon his own years of experience and expertise in combat aviation history, studying the journals and papers of the men and the machines that performed so well, so long ago. A superbly crafted historical novel of aerial combat and romance set against the backdrop of 'The War To End All Wars', Once A Knight is highly recommended reading and a welcome addition to personal and community library collections. Also very highly recommended is Walt Shiel's earlier historical novel Devil In The North Woods: A Novel Based On The 1908 Metz, Michigan, Wildfire (9780974655314)" -Midwest Book Review

"Shiel quickly has the reader enthralled with detailed, yet fast-paced flying of a style unknown to most today. One comes away sensing they now understand aerial combat whether in a Nieuport or a Sopwith Camel in the days of silk scarves and leather helmets. The combat is uniquely balanced with a love story that feels like many other courtships in classic literature, without coming off like a cliché. By the end, it is easy to cheer for the hero and leaves the reader hoping for a sequel. Once a Knight is a great read that will fit well alongside The Razor’s Edge and A Farewell to Arms." -Stephen Phillips,Military Writers Society of America

Author, Walt Shiel, himself a former Air Force pilot, gives the reader the excitement of the combat and enough information about flying without getting too technical. The aerial duels seem very real and you as a reader are in the cockpit with Ross as he goes on missions. The story moves quickly and Shiel does well to combine the action and the romance. You are definitely rooting for Ross as he finds himself behind enemy lines looking for Genevieve. How does he get himself out of this mess? You will have to read Once a Knight to find out. This book is part of The Dawn of Aviation Series and I look forward to reading more from Shiel who as a historian and pilot himself gives a personal touch to his stories." -Janice Hidey,ReviewTheBook.com