Narrator: Angus Freathy
Publisher: James W. George (2017)
Length: 6 hours 18 minutes
Series: Book 1 King Philip’s War
Set in the 1670s, Plimouth has become a thriving colony in the New World. However, the once solid relationship between the English settlers and the local Native Americans, the Wampanoag chief among them, has become strained. Culture clash, religious differences, and disrespect could lead to much bigger issues. Israel Brewster, a Puritan reverend, is a bit idealistic but believes people can be won over to the faith through compassion and mutual respect. Linto, a once orphaned boy, was adopted into the Wampanoag tribe. Great things are expected of him.
While this story takes a little time to settle into, I found it quite worthy. At the end of the audiobook, there are two notes – an author’s note and a narrator’s note – and both express how this section of American history has mostly been overlooked. I wholeheartedly agree and it’s great that we now have a quality historical fiction novel to explore this section of history.
I knew going into this tale that religion would play a significant role in the story. There’s the Puritans, the nearby Quakers, and the more enigmatic religious believes of the Wampanoag. However, the first 2 hours of the tale are rather weighty with Biblical verses and such. For me, this was almost too much. While I appreciate knowing the lay of religious land in historical fiction, this first part was quite top heavy with it. That said, I’m very glad I stuck with it. The religious context, once established, slides to the side to make room for more interesting stuff. By the end of the book, I was looking around for the next book.
Linto was the most interesting character to me. He’s genuinely interested in the English and their odd ways. In fact, I really loved his way of repeating back Biblical stories when talking with Israel. The author did a great job in showing this culture clash that was going on at the time. The conversations between Linto and Israel really showed how strange some of the English and Christian ways were. Linto also carries quite a lot on his shoulders in his adoptive tribe. His own tribe was wiped out by disease, the Wampanoag finding him as a lone survivor as a baby. His adoptive father, Metacomet (Sachem or leader of the tribe), expects much from him especially as their Powwas (spiritual leader).
Meanwhile, Israel has an interesting story arc as well. He’s suffered a horrible tragedy and feels deep spiritual guilt over it. In reaching out with compassion and mutual respect (for not only the nearby Native Americans but also the Quakers in a nearby colony), he loses face with the Puritans. His life spirals out of control but much later in the book he finds his feet again and is able to provide a key piece of info to Linto about an event that happened a generation ago involving Metacomet’s older brother Wamsutta. Massasoit, Metacomet’s father, had welcomed the Puritans to the area 50 years ago. Both Israel and Linto want very much to preserve a peace between the Wampanoag and the English colonists. However, the Wampanoag have legitimate gripes with a colonist they refer to as Skunk Genitals. This, among other serious issues, could undo that peace.
There are a few female characters in this story and one or two of them even have spoken lines. Yes, this tale is woefully light on gender balance. The ladies during this time were important too and it’s a bit sad to see them overlooked. Despite this weakness, I still enjoyed this novel once I settled into it.
Towards the end, there is some courtroom drama which I felt would change the future one way or another. The author did a great job of building the suspense and not giving away how things would turn out. Since I haven’t studied this part of history, I really appreciated this. While I had heard of King Philip’s war in passing, I never really understood what it meant. Now I have a solid idea of what events lead up to it. I’m looking forward to Book 2 to see how things continue to unfold.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.
The Narration: Angus Freathy was a good fit for this book. He has a variety of English accents that suited the various English colonists. He kept each character distinct. His female character voices were lacking femininity though. There is a little bit of singing which I quite enjoyed.
What I Liked: Cover art; a much over-looked time period made clearer; the culture clash so clearly laid out; various religious believes; the Wampanoag get equal page time with the English colonists; compelling story, so much so I look forward to Book 2.
What I Disliked: The first part is very thick with religion; very few ladies and they all have tiny roles, mostly as romantic interests.
Check out more reviews on the blog tour.