One Among the Indians

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I love historical fiction. It is my favorite type of book. Good historical fiction makes history come alive for the reader, and this novel, which is based on the life of a real person named Thomas Savage, does exactly that. It begins in July, 1607, at Kent County, England, where young Tom is the second son and thus can never inherit his father’s estate, all of which will go to his older brother Arnold. So he chooses to serve Captain Christopher Newport as cabin boy on board the John and Francis which is taking additional settlers and supplies to the new colony of Jamestown in Virginia. He tells his mother that he will be back before the new year. However, the ship is delayed by doldrums, Tom becomes ill with a fever, and the captain has to spend more time in Santo Domingo than planned, so they do not even arrive in Jamestown until January of 1608. Tom, rather than returning to England, agrees to be exchanged for Namontack, one of the sons of the Great Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Pocahontas’s father. Both groups hope this will foster good relations between the English and the Powhatans. During the two years that Tom is “one among the Indians,” his life is intertwined with those of Pocahontas and John Smith. He makes friends with another son of the Great Powhatan named Pokatawer and experiences several attacks by settlers against Indians and Indians against settlers. Because of the tensions between the two groups, he finally returns to Jamestown. The book ends four years later with the marriage of Pocahontas (now called Rebecca) and John Rolfe. Will Tom survive future hostilities between the two sides? Or will he decide to return to England? After the last chapter, the author tells a little more about what became of many of the individuals mentioned in the book. Some of the characters, names, incidents, and dialogue are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, but the basic events portrayed in the book are real and Thomas Savage was Martha Bennett Stiles’s great(8)-grandfather. She grew up on a James River goat farm near where he had been held hostage. There is not much historical fiction for young people that covers this period of American settlement, so this book serves a very useful purpose. I for one am very glad that it is now available again as an Authors Guild Edition. It is well written and filled with adventure. I truly enjoyed reading it.

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