Monday, April 22, 2013

G75 Book Review of Eclipse of the Midnight Sun by Timothy M. Kestrel

Name of Book: Eclipse of the Midnight Sun

Author: Timothy M Kestrel

ISBN: 978-0-615-73008-0

Publisher: Published by Timothy Kestrel

Part of a Series: The Rule of Ranging

Type of book: 1853, 1750s?, Finland, America, enemies, rangers, famous personages, lost love, "phoenix"

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

Even those waging the fiercest battles just hew to hard fast rules that separate the soldier from the savage. And when a man’s home is destroyed beyond restoration, it’s up to him alone to forge a code and carve a new place to live in peace. The Rule of Ranging 1: Eclipse of the Midnight Sun is the epic action-adventure drama by Timothy M. Kestrel that follows the fearless Finn on a journey paved with bloodthirsty aggressors, mysterious women, and the rough terrain of a fledgling America. Both grave and uplifting, it’s an absorbing flight of fancy and derring-do. Set in the eighteen century, Kestrel’s story is a work of historic fiction that relives the most perilous days of the French & Indian War. The story begins in Finland, just as a young boy named Finn witnesses the complete annihilation of his home village, as well as the brutal killing of his family by marauding Russians. He barely manages to escape, chased by a merciless Hessian mercenary, Johan Kopf, nicknamed Totenkopf. Following his dying mother's wish to find a mysterious woman named Columbia, Finn's course takes him across the Atlantic. He befriends a slave, Gus, and buys his freedom. On their travels in this brave new world called America, the two make their way through the majestic Hudson Valley in New York, and soon encounter Marcus Fronto, a curious vagrant and philosophical mentor; Daniel Nimham, a fierce Wappinger chief and warrior; and beautiful Catherina Brett. They join forces with Robert Rogers Rangers, and fight against the French at Fort Edward, New York, during the Hudson River campaign in the 1750s. Action-packed and rigorously researched, the story offers a rare vantage of a crucial time in this country’s coming of age that is at once funny, heartbreaking, illuminating, and thrilling. Mining the depths of love, freedom, greed, and loyalty, it’s a page-turning, heart-pounding read that is at once scholarly and scintillating – steeped in history with a death-defying hero for the ages.

Characters:

For some odd reason I couldn't connect with characters at all. The only characters I ended up liking were Caterina Brett, and the old Finn who was telling the story, and I also enjoyed the fascinating facts he tells about Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. I had trouble connecting with the young Finn and other characters as well. I would guess the characters for me were more of a tell rather than show variety when it came to expressing emotions. I also had trouble believing the chemistry between Finn and Rosie and so forth. It seemed very last minute in my view, and I sensed no build up.

Theme:

Its possible to rebuild your life after destruction

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from omniscient point of view. At times I had trouble understanding the narrative because it tended to jump back and forth between multiple characters and the part where he meets his companions happens in the last quarter of the book. One of the things I liked is that a slave actually taught Finn how to read and write and count, which is an interesting twist I admit, but some things weren't explained well; how did people from Finland keep track of things if they didn't count? What of reading? What was going on in Europe at the time Hessians attacked Finland? Why doesn't Finn send a telegram to Rosie letting her know he's safe and telling her to move on? How did Finn live in England and barely survived on almost no English language? Also, track of years starting with the narrative would have been really nice.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

gender
male

website
http://timothykestrel.com

twitter username
TimothyKestrel

genre
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Philosophy

member since
November 2011

Opinion:

This book does have the hallmarks of me liking it: history, vivid nature descriptions, famous personages such as Ben Franklin and Robert Rogers make appearances. It also takes place in 1750s, and I enjoy reading historical books before 1800s began. I was pretty excited in acquiring the book and reading it. A lot of things in the book didn't work for me, I have to admit. What did work were the vivid scenery descriptions, the portrayal of life in Finland area during 1700s and the way American frontier was portrayed, the lawlessness before civilizing influences began. Here are also interesting characters such as Gus, Johan Kopf and Marcus Fronto, at least they had potential of being interesting. In other words, the author doesn't sugarcoat the reality of what the frontier was like which is something I liked, and I loved the scenes between Henry Raymond and Finn. However, what I didn't enjoy was lack of time while reading the book, and if that's Finn telling the story to Henry Raymond, then he's about 120 years old; not really feasible during that time, which is where years would have helped, and it did drive me crazy. The characters, unfortunately, struck me as sort of a cardboard type. The author needs to focus more on how to create fascinating characters that can grab people. I also wanted to point out a few things; the character of Daniel Nimham speaks like a Native American from Peter Pan, in other words a stereotypical Native American character when in fact Native Americans didn't speak stereotypically. Also, the scene where Johan goes to a Chinese brothel and mention of opium, that happened during late 1800s, not late 1700s...there might have been some Asians in America, but I doubt they had an opium den in 1700s. I also think that some women will take an offense at the way most of the women were portrayed in the book. Even if its part accurate, unfortunately, women are used to reading novels and books about strong and indomitable women heroines, and when only one woman is kind of portrayed in such a way, while others are accepting, it's not a really good situation.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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