Synod: A Novel
by Dan C. Gunderman
Zimbell House Publishing, LLC

"It would be the culmination of a crusade fueled by color...and his heart raced. The preparations for the defense of Synod were underway."

Due to his military experience in the War of 1812, Goldfinch has been assigned to lead and defend a small colony of people (some may call do-gooders) who want to make slavery in America a thing of the past. Goldfinch is his Synod name; real names from the illusory (outside) world are no longer to be used. Synod is a refuge where idealists can escape the world of deism and skepticism—a welcoming place.

This novel details a fictional mid-1800s stockade village of idealistic members in northern New Jersey. Several women have skills in leadership and even forging. Men include the chief called ‘One’ and a minister who helps procure weapons. Other male members faithfully assist Goldfinch with guarding the perimeter. Soon black refuges join the “family” with slave hunters following closely.

In this atypical historical novel, it is difficult at times to tell what is real and which is fiction or fantasy. The three founding fathers actually lived during the mid-1800s and were significant citizens in the eastern area. Although the community and its members are fictional, the Underground Railroad did exist to help slaves flee to freedom in the North. Yet there are obvious fantasy elements. A spiritual, almost animalistic influence bombards Goldfinch. A huge wolf is the patron. while a red eye represents slavery being watched. These visions are meant for Synod’s protection and Goldfinch’s guidance.

Gunderman orchestrates a mighty clash of villagers with pro-slavery opponents. The woods and hills are tangled with bravery, skullduggery, camaraderie, and a cannon’s roar. Inside the walls, lies, sex, and pride manifest. With death tolls mounting, a reader is ultimately reminded of current and on-going racism clashes with each side willing to defend what they consider the best for humanity.

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