Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received download from author for Audiobookworm Promotions tour
Faith. Love. Murder. Prophecy. War...
In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.
Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.
Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit's son, known as "King Philip" by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.
In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?
The element that was the most interesting draw for me in selecting this book was the subject matter: My Father’s Kingdom focuses on the events in colonial America that lead up to King Phillip’s War. Now this is an area that I have only heard of in passing, did not learn about in any of my American History or Native American classes in school, and hasn’t been the subject of any novels that I have read. I’m always looking for new historical fiction set in America and love finding niche areas to read about and My Father’s Kingdom fits the bill. As the author points out at the end in his Notes section, this event was quite significant in early colonial history however most classes focus on the initial settling at Plymouth and Jamestown and then jump over 100 years to the Revolution, missing this unsettled time period entirely.
In My Father’s Kingdom, James George tells the story through dual narrative of that of a Wampanoag and from the perspective of the Puritan colonists. Through this storytelling method we see the issues resulting from the clash of the two cultures from both sides and it felt fairly even in terms of balance. I never really felt that the author was choosing a side. There were some characters that felt sympathy for the other culture and then those who didn’t care one bit to live peaceably with them – which is likely rather true about perspectives of the time.
There were some elements that bogged me down a little bit, primarily the emphasis on the Puritan ideals and religious belief, but I felt that it was important to get into the mindset of these colonists. At the same time there were some excellent action/drama scenes that kept the story moving; I especially appreciated the court trial scene of a group of Native Americans because of how ridiculous the whole thing was and how it showed the vast difference in the two perspectives.
While the story ends just at the first shots, literally, of King Phillip’s War I thought that George did an excellent job of bringing the reader right up into those events with a solid understanding of the complex web of events that lead to it. You can easily figure out what the end result of the war will be, one of the characters analyzes that and speaks to his people about it, but you can still see why they make that choice to go to war.
I would highly recommend this book for fans of American historical fiction as it will present something that is a fresh idea that has not been overdone.
Angus Freathy does a very good job narrating this book. His more subtle British accent lends itself well to the personification of the colonial characters. Freathy creates unique voices for all of his characters which lends itself to their uniqueness and how they stand out as individuals in my mind even looking back on it. His voice for one of Brewster’s adversaries is hilariously comical and heightened my enjoyment of the scenes he was in. Having grown up and lived in the area that this book takes place I did recognize some mispronunciations of locations and names, but it wouldn’t have likely been a noticeable issue for non-residents. I give Freathy kudos for actually singing the songs that make appearance in the novel rather than simply reading them. While not an excellent singer, his attempt at this made the listening experience feel more full and to what the author would have wanted the reader to experience; I know that I tend to sing songs in my head when I encounter them on the page even when I have no point of reference for the tune. Freathy asks for us to ignore his poor singing in the Author/Narrator notes, but I give him props for this, no apology needed!
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Find James W. George: Goodreads
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