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Daniel Meier

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Virginia, 1622. Powhatan braves prepare war paint from the sacred juice of the bloodroot plant, but Nehiegh, the English son-in-law of Chief Ochawintan has sworn never to kill again. He must leave before the massacre. England, 1609. Matthew did not trust his friend, Richard’s stories of Paradise in the Jamestown settlement, but nothing could have equipped him for the privation and terror that awaited him in this savage land. Once ashore in the fledgling settlement, Matthew experiences the unimaginable beauty of this pristine land and learns the meaning of hope, but it all turns into a nightmare as gold mania infests the community and Indians become an increasing threat. The nightmare only gets worse as the harsh winter brings on “the starving time” and all the grizzly horrors of a desperate and dying community that come with it. Driven to the depths of despair by the guilt of his sins against Richard and his lust for that man’s wife, Matthew seeks death, but instead finds hope in the most unexpected of places, with the Powatan Indians. In this compelling and extensively researched historical novel, the reader is transported into a little-known time in early America where he is asked to explore the real meanings of loyalty, faith, and freedom.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot: The author weaves an intriguing tale that spans two continents and depicts the long-forgotten era of the settlement of Jamestown. The author does a great job crafting a interesting storyline that holds the reader's interest.

Prose/Style: The author is a gifted writer who is able to mimic the language style from the time period depicted in the work. The even prose aids the story's evenly-paced flow, which maintains the reader's interest throughout.

Originality: This a unique work with distinctive characters. While the setting is historical, the story line is a work of original fiction.

Character Development/Execution: The author effectively creates distinctive and original characters. The reader is able to learn much about the characters from their actions in response to the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Date Submitted: June 20, 2021

Meier (The Dung Beetles of Liberia) transports readers back to Jamestown, 1609, in this dramatic historical fiction. Matthew, an English carpenter on the run after assaulting his boss, embarks on the long voyage to Virginia with the hopes of a new beginning with his best friend Richard, an optimistic scholar. Matthew adapts to the harsh environment of the Americas, learning to use a gun and contribute to the settlement, winning favor in the eyes of colony leaders like Captain John Smith. Richard, though, struggles to see Jamestown for anything other than an Eden where he can start a new civilization and spread Christianity to the local Native Americans.

The men’s friendship illustrates opposing viewpoints of early settlers’ adjustment to Jamestown. While Matthew hardens to the reality that the settlement is not a promised land brimming with gold, Richard struggles to learn survival skills, falls in love with an Englishwoman, and insists on his mission to “begin the world over again, the way it should be” by spreading “the light of Christianity.” Both men's morals are tested as they face the harsh reality for the unprepared English settlers, striving to find food in a punishing winter. Meier doesn’t sugarcoat the settlers’ attacks against the Native Americans or the retaliations: the brutality of Jamestown life, and the battles between the Native Americans and the English, are deftly laid out with clarity and power, inviting readers to experience them alongside Matthew.

History and fiction blend perfectly in this vivid account of early settlement in an unforgiving new land where morals are tested and sins are committed. Those who grew up learning the stories of Jamestown in history classes will recognize many characters, such as Captain Ratcliffe, Powhatan Chief Opechancanough, Captain Davis, and Sir Percy. Meier provides a detailed map so readers can easily follow along with the characters’ movements.

Takeaway: This well-researched novel of early Jamestown will grab readers seeking a fresh look at history.

Great for fans of: Connie Lapallo, Tony Williams’s The Jamestown Experiment.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+