Friday, October 16, 2015

The New World by Andrew Morton

Picking up Jim Hawkin's story after Treasure Island, Andrew Morton imagines an epic journey across the American South.  Jim and his companion, a woman named Netty, take sail with a cargo full of silver.  Their dreams of riches disappears when their boat is caught in a storm and capsized.  Miraculously, both Jim and Netty survive the shipwreck, but their relief is short-lived.  They are captured by a band of Indians, who mercilessly slaughter the other survivors and take the two hostage. In the Indian's village, Jim and Netty are imprisoned and watch helplessly as other prisoners are murdered periodically in gruesome fashion.  When their captors' guard is done, the two manage to escape and to steal the tribe's most prized possession.

Jim and Netty take off across Texas, hoping to make their way to the nearest port and find a ship back to England.  Their trip extends across several years.  In the process, they travel across deserts and impenetrable forest, and take river trips.  They live for a time with a tribe of friendly Indians, travel with a troupe of traveling entertainers, and take up with another young couple off to make their fortune.  Yet they are constantly haunted by the specter of the Indian chief whose treasure they stole and who has devoted his life to following them and retrieving his treasure.  Wherever they go and whomever they are with, their goal remains the same: to get back home to their own families.

Andrew Morton was the poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.  His background is evident in the language that describes the frontier of the Southern United States in the mid 1840's.  The historical accuracy and insight into the plight of the Native Americans as they are pushed from their land by the explorers and settlers is keen.  Yet the reader will be delighted by the various adventures Jim and Netty encounter.  Their implacable foe, Black Cloud, is a figure that will remain in readers' minds.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction and those interested in books with a literary hook.

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