Into A Savage Land
by James R. Field
Hyperborea Publishing

"...he felt his hair being grabbed by the hand of a savage who lifted him clear off his feet with one arm while with the other he swung a tomahawk."

In this historical novel based on an actual incident that occurred in the early 1800s, Field dramatizes events surrounding the sacking of a sailing vessel, the massacre of its crew, and the taking of two white prisoners by the indigenous peoples of Canada’s Pacific Northwest Coast. It is a tale of high adventure that breathes life into a story of the unfortunate sailors and the Nootkans who enslaved them.

After having his warriors murder virtually the entire crew, Maquinna, a tribal chief, spares the life of the ship’s blacksmith, Jewitt, because the young man is skilled at turning metal into weaponry. Jewitt is able to save the life of the ship’s sailmaker, Thompson, by lying and convincing the chief that the man is his father. Maquinna takes the pair for his personal slaves, and so begins the chronicle of two civilized men’s servitude among people they consider to be savages. The author details Jewitt's and Thompson’s time among the tribe with vivid descriptions of physical and emotional hardships. Harassed by both males and females, they only remain alive because the chief views them as prized possessions. The two yearn for freedom, but will rescue come? And will they be able to keep hope alive?

Field is an accomplished writer who imbues the indigenous people with the same degree of humanity as that of their captives. His depictions of what they eat, how they live, their traditions, and beliefs are both comprehensive and compelling. He builds suspense well, employing sudden violence viscerally in events as diverse as whale hunts and domestic discord. This is a strange and memorable tale told well.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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