Sunday, May 10, 2015
The Abduction Of Smith And Smith
The United States is in chaos as the Civil War ends. State has fought against state and an entire generation of men have either died or returned home, changed forever. Jupiter Smith is a former slave who fights for the North. He returns to the plantation where he grew up, only to find his wife gone. The rumor is she has gone to San Francisco to wait for him. Archer Smith is the plantation owner's son and heir and fought for the South. He returns home, gravely injured, to find his father dead, murdered it's said, by Jupiter. He also heads for San Francisco to find the man who killed his father and to kill him in turn.
San Francisco is full of men and immigrants all striving for a successful life and most are ready to do anything to carve out that life. Jupiter takes a job shanghai'ing men to become crew on sailing ships; forcing them into coerced labor that is not much different than the life he endured as a slave. He spends his time searching for Sonya, his wife. Just when he gets a lead on her, he is in turn captured and forced into labor on a ship. Captured along with him is Archer, and the two men must now work out their issues in a life full of labor and dependence on each other. Complicating the issues is the fact that Jupiter and Archer are brothers, born from the same father but different mothers. They have a familial bond that has turned to hatred, but they must stick together in order to survive this new life.
Rashad Harrison has written one of the most original, stirring stories I've read in months. It is full of opium, gun running, piracy, the politics of the Chinese empire, slavery, forced servitude of women, mutiny and many other issues. The reader is taken through an ever-changing landscape of twists and turns that has their loyalty switching as often as the plot changes. He explores the issues of the brotherhood bond, and the thorny issue of how one can be honest in an environment where honesty is seen as a weakness and where cunning and the willingness to do anything to survive is paramount. This book is recommended for readers of both literary and historical fiction.