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Literature / Reconstruction Series

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"Isaac looked around, his breathing ragged in his ears. He was in Kansas, on his way to Lawrence to be the new sheriff. The dull yellow prairie stretched around him in all directions like a blank sheet of newspaper."

Reconstruction is a Cattle Punk and Alternate History Web Serial Novel series by K.R. Kampion, currently being published on JukePop.

The series follows Isaac Benjamin, a former military officer from the Civil War who now works for the Union government. He moves from town to town and eventually is sent to Lawrence, Kansas. There, he finds out that the New Union has appointed him The Sheriff—his first long-term gig in years.


While outlaws, making friends, and rebuilding the city aren't things that Isaac is used to, he quickly becomes attached to Lawrence and everyone in it. But his past has a way of coming back to bite him and the New Union is still in disarray after the war.

NOTE: This serial is into its second arc. Most spoilers are marked, but you are advised to Archive Binge before reading further, or run the risk of being Spoilered Rotten.


This serial provides examples of:

  • Arc Villain: Spencer and Harrison have so far been the Big Bads of Arcs 1 and 2 respectively.
  • Artificial Limbs: Although none of the main cast have any, Matthew Leeland's entire business seems built on the numerous Life Or Limb Decisions made during the Civil War. He mentions basing his research on ArmCannons, although he isn't building them himself.
  • The Atoner: Isaac's reason for staying with the New Union government.
  • An Axe to Grind: Elijah does this, with a smaller hatchet than the usual giant battle axe. It's unclear where, exactly, he gets the hatchet. It appears in his hand during the train fight with Isaac, meaning he may have pulled Deus Ax Machina and realized it really works for him.
  • Badass Crew: Team Benjamin.
  • Bash Brothers: Isaac and Solomon, who fight together and will box with each other when they're bored.
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  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The first real engagement with Spencer is this, when he has one of his henchman set a large chunk of Lawrence on fire. Happens again in the first engagement with Harrison, when Isaac and the militia try to stop him from burning down a town.
  • Battle Couple: Isaac and Caroline have proven that they're this, though never officially, since they're Just Friends because of Isaac's it's not you, it's my job stance.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Isaac's mission in Georgia shows shades of this.
    • Solomon has some of this, since his cheerful personality is a mask:
      “You know,” Caroline said as she worked on unjamming a pistol hammer. “I always thought that Solomon was okay. That he never let things get to him.” [...] “It’s a soldier thing, Miss Caroline,” Isaac said. “We all have things we don’t wanna talk about. Some people are better at bein’ fine than others.”
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Caroline, full stop. Isaac as well, although his reputation precedes him and often keeps people from assuming he's nice at all.
  • The Big Guy: Elijah. Also Solomon.
  • Born into Slavery: Solomon and Miriam.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Team Benjamin excels at this. Often flirting with Isaac and Caroline, but he and Solomon do it just as often. Cassandra, when caught up in action sequences, hates it.
  • The Charmer: Isaac and Solomon, in different ways. Isaac learned this from his aunt to help him become a spy; Solomon is just charming.
  • Clueless Deputy: Subverted by Solomon.
  • Constantly Curious: Alice.
  • Crush Blush: Fairly regular appearances between Isaac and Caroline, especially when caught staring at each other.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Isaac, Solomon, Caroline and Dai all qualify. Cassandra arguably fits as well. Altogether they have strong vibes of Dysfunction Junction or Breakfast Club, although the group dynamic tends more towards True Companions.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The first chapter is titled "The Town Without a Graveyard," since the entire front of Lawrence is Black Hat's version of this trope.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Isaac tends to be. Harvey is even more so, making it clear where Isaac gets it from.
  • Deconstruction: The author has stated that Isaac is a direct deconstruction of Anti-Hero and Gunslinger tropes.
  • Dirty Business: Isaac and Elijah. This seems to be the reason why Harvey left the army.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: the first chapter with any real characterization of Cassandra, 15, is full of this from her, quoted almost to the letter.
  • The Dragon: Harrison, has Sawyer and Timothy as these, and he used to have Isaac.
  • Emotion Suppression: Isaac lives in this trope, although he's often unsuccessful at keeping everything... down.
  • Ensign Newbie: Captain Augustus Doyle seems to be this, although after the initial reaction to his youth, Isaac admits that Doyle is very competent.
  • Everyone Can See It: Isaac and Caroline's relationship for several chapters. Even they both know it, but it seems as though neither of them can spit it out.
  • Evil Counterpart: Harrison to Harvey and Isaac; Timothy also to Isaac.
  • Evil Mentor: Harrison to Isaac and, according to Isaac, everyone else under his command.
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted by Caroline. She is neither the first girl Isaac meets in the story, nor the first girl to develop a crush on him in Lawrence (Tabby is both).
  • Flashback Nightmare: Isaac has them nearly every time we see him sleeping. Often leads to him drinking it off.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Seems to have been part of Isaac's childhood with Harvey. Rather than Isaac rebelling against being like Harvey, the war seems to have sent them on different paths but not stopped them from being a lot alike.
  • Frontier Doctor: Dr Jaeger. Cassandra is on her way to this, with more of a Dr. Jerk flavor, though that's wearing off.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Isaac got one, despite having gone beyond Just Following Orders when he was with Harrison. He does get an official Thou Shalt Not Kill sanction as the condition for this, but he's more than happy to follow it. And understandably upset when it's repealed.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Played with. Harrison's scarring is intense, but so is Isaac's and Solomon's. Solomon's may be ultimately the worst, as a result of an entire childhood in slavery, and Isaac's are the only scars that absolutely can't be hidden by his clothing. Which was the point.
  • Guilt Complex: Isaac. So much so that he borders on Martyr Without a Cause and pretty frequently returns to the My God, What Have I Done? stage of flashbacks. He believes it's all his fault.
  • Guns Akimbo: Caroline does this during the fight with Black Hat, as does Solomon. Elijah does this at the Lawrence train station. The only one who doesn't do this, really, is Isaac. An interesting flip, as Isaac is technically The Gunslinger.
  • The Heart: Solomon and Caroline both fill this role.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Isaac uses a cavalry saber along with other weapons, most of his True Companions use guns or weapons gloves, and when they do have another Weapon of Choice, it's not a sword. Even Caroline remarks that Isaac's history with being taught sword fighting is pretty heroic, especially as he flirts with Named Weapons for some extra flair.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Isaac does this. He seems to have once been more full of himself, but now struggles to see himself as better than a monster. Some Heroic BSoD and lots of You Are Better Than You Think You Are from his friends.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Cassandra. Isaac as well: while the serial never portrays him as anything but a good man, in-universe most people assume he's a monster.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Oliver Winchester, who was really a businessman and politician, but in Reconstruction is a businessman (in both weapons and owning and operating an inn) and spymaster. He lives in South Carolina instead of New England and does not seem to serve in any (official) political roles. His granddaughters, Caroline and Alice, are fictional, so it seems that the whole family has gotten this.
  • Historical Domain Character: President Grant, John Singleton Mosby and Oliver Winchester are all historical figures who have appeared.
  • Home Sweet Home: Lawrence is this for Isaac, who chooses to stay, or at least is planning on it. Boston for Harvey.
  • Honor Before Reason: The former Confederacy and Southerners not happy with Isaac/the New Union are shown as this. Mosby, Harvey and Isaac all (hilariously) show signs of it as well.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Doyle might become this for Alice, who he certainly has a crush on, but who just as obviously has a crush on Elijah.
  • Hot Men at Work: In spades. Isaac, Solomon and the rest of the workmen all seem to enjoy being this. Isaac is the most noted example but far from alone.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Elijah and Alice. Isaac is about One Head Taller than Caroline.
  • Ice Queen: Cassandra, although she appears to be defrosting. She does volunteer to go to the South and help Isaac out of loyalty to Solomon and Caroline.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Isaac.
  • Jerkass: Amos Spencer. Even noted in-universe by Solomon.
  • The Lancer: Filled by both Solomon and Caroline, who serve as Isaac's foils and counters at different points. Solomon is his second-in-command, but Caroline is the more straightforward foil.
  • Machine Empathy: Isaac, Caroline, and Alice all do this.
  • Made of Iron: Most of the cast, good or bad. Some realistic attention is given to injuries, but Rule of Cool results in this as well.
  • Mark of Shame: Isaac's facial scar is this.
  • The Medic: Cassandra and Matthew Leeland, although the latter asserts that he's really an biotech engineer, not a doctor.
  • Motion-Capture Mecha: The two-legged walkers are this.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Isaac has so many shirtless scenes that the author has made jokes about it.
  • The Musketeer: Isaac and Timothy are both this.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Harvey claims to be helping Isaac fight Harrison for the chance to kill Harrison, not to help the New Union or save the south.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Isaac is terrified that he is still similar to Harrison, Timothy, or to the old Isaac.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Isaac, Matthew Leland, and Augustus Doyle. Caroline and Tabby both like Isaac for these qualities, although they both know about his less... gentlemanly past.
  • One-Man Army: Isaac is said to have done more damage during the Civil War than entire Union battalions, and he often thinks about how he tore through Confederate troops. After the war, he is sent, usually alone, to deal with problems through the South. Timothy is this as well, based on what he does to the militia's camp.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Harvey is Isaac's.
    • Caroline appears to be Dai's. They are much closer in age, making her more of an older sister figure, but still this.
    • We've never heard about Misty's parents, so Tess and Jose might be her's.
  • Pinkerton Detective: Several, although they're mostly spies and not detectives. Isaac himself could qualify.
  • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Isaac and Harrison both have these.
  • Plucky Girl: Caroline. She hits Action Girl territory as well, but Isaac notes her optimism and kindness several times, making her more this.
  • Promise Me You Won't X: allusions to this everywhere. Solomon and Caroline to Isaac, Alice to Elijah. Harvey and Isaac both feel this way about the other, and usually do X anyway.
  • Puppy Love: Dai seems to be in this with Misty.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harrison seems to be the master of these. It's not like Isaac's Rousing Speech to his militiamen is any better, though.
  • Retired Badass: Harvey is clearly this. Isaac describes him as being in "dangerous shape" and keeping his house well fortified from enemies.
  • Saloon Owner: Tess.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Spencer has this view and is supported in it by the New Union's refusal to do anything about his seriously illegal activities.
  • Self-Made Man: Harvey and Jasper. Caroline's father (and grandfather) would be this as well, and Caroline seems to be earning the title for herself. Solomon is on his way to this especially since he's been appointed Sheriff.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Harrison does this. Matthew Leeland, the militia's second doctor, may be a Combat Medic in response.
  • The Silent Bob: Elijah.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Caroline, and also Tabby.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Both the Confederacy and Spencer. Solomon's back story supports this. Spencer's worst legacy may be the economic damage done to the South, but his crowning moment of awful is when he breaks Isaac by talking about how the slave trade never ended. Even Cassandra, who redeems herself (despite her family's status as former slaveholders), only does so after she's nearly been sold into slavery herself.
  • Sour Supporter: Cassandra for Isaac. She doesn't approve of him, but she's going to help him anyway. May be becoming a Knight in Sour Armor.
  • Southern Gentleman: Several. Isaac, Captain Doyle, Matthew Leeland, and Verne are the most prominent.
  • Starter Villain: Black Hat.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Played with. Isaac kept his uniform from the war. Elijah likely did too. Both have been in and out of official service, but identify each other as soldiers when they meet again.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Isaac when he returns to Boston. Fear of being this keeps Cassie from returning to Georgia.
  • Sword and Gun: Isaac does this a lot. He and Timothy both do this when they fight each other. Elijah does this, except with a hatchet instead of the sword.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Solomon and Jose are both notably this, and Elijah has been described as all three. Isaac is the ginger version.
  • Teach Him Anger: Isaac is the result of this, from Harrison's abuse and his time in Georgia.
  • Team Mom:
    • Caroline does this quite well, especially for Dai. She becomes a Mama Bear if he's ever directly threatened.
    • Tabby also fills this role, especially for Caroline and also shows mama bear tendencies, although she's not physically violent. She may still be a qualifier for Beware the Quiet Ones.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Most of Team Benjamin are respectful of boundaries. Solomon in particular rarely talks about his past.
  • Title Drop: For Spoils of War:
    He should've thought of a better plan. One that didn't involve Cassandra sacrificing herself as a spoil of war. She didn't deserve this.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Cassandra, it seems.
  • Traintop Battle: Isaac and Elijah have one.
  • Translator Buddy: Alice for Elijah.
  • Visionary Villain: Harrison. More broadly, the entire Confederacy.
  • War Is Hell: All of the veterans (and there are many) seem to agree on this:
    "He wasn't a kidnapper, at least the Elijah that Isaac had known wasn't. But then again, the war could've done something to him. War had the habit of making monsters out of good men."
    "The car felt like the pits of hell, complete with the now overpowering reek of gunpowder and sulfur. Matthew didn't care if it was a cliché now, was was most certainly hell."
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Harvey is Isaac's.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Solomon practically says this to Cassandra when they are stuck with each other, although their relationship is defrosting as she does.
  • Wrench Wench: Alice. Caroline to an extent, although she fulfills more of The Blacksmith's role, just with more wrenches.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Caroline, and to a lesser extent Solomon, feel this for Isaac.
  • Young Gun: Dai, complete with Improbable Aiming Skills.