on January 1st 1970
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“From the Civil War battlefields of England and Ireland to a mystery lost in the forests of North America, this is both a roaring adventure and a timely commentary on the dangers of religious extremism.”
This is a historical adventure novel, taking place in the 1600’s, which follows Rhisiart Dafydd from his boyhood until the later years of his life. Along the way the reader watches as Rhisiart falls in love, embraces Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army and the violence it entails in the name of religion. We watch him through England’s Civil wars and the campaign in Ireland.
When he is asked by his former commander to voyage to American to locate a group of missing Welsh Puritans, he agrees to go (did he have a choice?). The voyage is rough and ends in a shipwreck where he and a tomcat survive. He is helped by local Native American’s and nursed back to help. He finds kinship with them and appears to relax and flourish while living among them. But he has been sent to complete a task, and he soon sets out to find the missing Puritans. The Native American tribe has assisted him in locating an English camp/settlement and have provided him with a map for “New Jerusalem”
Along his search he has many trials and when he finally makes it to New Jerusalem and becomes a part of the community. He is welcomed but things seem and feel a little off. He has a lot of questions and no one really wants to answer them. The villages are welcoming but also cautious. Is it because he is a newcomer, or do they have something to hide? This is where things really get interesting, so I will not say more about this part of the novel.
This book was originally published in Welsh and then translated into English. The book also does not follow a chronological order. The story jumps around from one timeline to the next. Thankfully, the chapters are titled with the year you are reading; however, there was one point in the story where I became confused and had to go back and check what time I was reading. So, my advice is make sure to read the chapter heading before reading each section.
This book felt as if it were part non-fiction and part fiction. I enjoyed the parts of the story where the book was more fiction. I especially enjoyed when the main character of Rhisiart Dafydd, was with the Native American’s and in the village trying to figure out what was going on. New Jerusalem, in a way, felt as if it were Salem, MA. Read it and you will see what I mean. The town has secrets as does it members and this was the most intriguing part of the book for me.
I enjoyed the later part of the book more than I did the beginning. There is a lot of information in the beginning about religion in England in the 1660’s and the religious wars which resulted (not to mention the plague). I found that once he made his way to American and the story no longer jumped around, I found I enjoyed the book more.
Historical, educational, epic and atmospheric.
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.