In The Land Of Whispers Series
By George Minkoff
The Weight of Smoke - Volume I
Four hundred years after the founding of Jamestown, the lives of Captain John Smith, Powhatan, and Pocahontas assume their true dimensions in a far-ranging saga of the beginnings of the British Empire, and in particular how the English came to the New World to create a Utopia, and instead founded a slave state...
Presented as the final work of the famous explorer and author, Captain John Smith, The Weight of Smoke recounts the disastrous first eighteen months of the Jamestown Colony, 1607-1609; but entwined with the colony's fractious beginnings are the adventures of Sir Francis Drake, retold around the campfires by an old alchemist, Jonas Profit, who sailed the Spanish main with Queen Elizabeth's pirate. Drake is the abiding spirit as Smith is initiated into greatness. In Jamestown, Smith finds himself at the center of a desperate struggle for survival, a struggle that will involve him in the mysteries of this unknown land. Appropriately, these tales are told in a language rich with metaphorical power and flavored with Elizabethan authenticity.
... a fascinating story of an era that is rich in discovery and adventure."
~ Berkshire Homestyle
"...The author is a marvelous wordsmith, occasionally using poetry in his prose: "The next day the world was eyes and trumpet calls. A sky of banners and ladies graced the city's walls." His story-within-a-story, the adventures of Francis Drake several years prior to the establishment of Jamestown and Smith's adventures, is handled cleverly. Minkoff demonstrates the difference in class structure.... It's amazing that the colony ever succeeded. The importance of Drake's story helped me understand Captain Smith's drive to explore the coast of North America, as he tried to locate the Northwest Passage to the Pacific. The author also introduces Pocahontas and Powhatan and explains the effect of the English settlement on the local Native American tribes - who try to maintain their culture as they war amongst each other - as well as the "magic" of tobacco, the weight of smoke. The novel is not a quick read, but one to be savored.
~ Jeff Westerhoff, The Historical Novels Review
The Dragons of the Storm- Volume II
The Dragons of the Storm continues directly from The Weight of Smoke. When Powhatan forcibly adopted Captain John Smith into his tribe, he declared that after three wounds the river would speak to him. While fishing in the Chesapeake toward the end of a long expedition, Smith is stabbed by a stingray and falls deathly ill. Because he is set to assume the presidency of Jamestown on their return, the fate of the colony may depend upon his recovery. The old alchemist and mariner, Jonas Profit, doctors this second wound, and to ease Smith's suffering starts to tell of the daring circumnavigation of the world by Francis Drake. So begins the second volume of George Robert Minkoff's visionary epic, In the Land of Whispers, revealing the desperate events in the lives of both Drake and Smith that will lead finally to a permanent settlement for the Elizabethans in the New World. John Smith is followed from the initiations of the first volume into a year of unforeseen trials and their consequence: while the London Company's aristocrats broker the colony's fate with their wealth and power, the colonists struggle an ocean away just to survive in an unforgiving land. Famine, contagion, mutiny, and war with Powhatan threaten constantly. Among the 'gentlemen,' ignorance and arrogance joust with greed for supremacy. And the one man who might save Jamestown from itself, John Smith, will have to confront not only the venality of his enemies, and the legacy of his spiritual fathers, but the mysteries of his own destiny.
If only history books were written like this. The Dragons of the Storm is a literary banquet best savored slowly like fine wine and just as intoxicating."
~ J.M. Cornwell, Authorlink
At the heart of this book are the two towering exploits which made Francis Drake one of the greatest sailors of all time: his three-year circumnavigation of the globe in 1577-80, and his defeat of the Spanish Armada eight years later. The round-the-world voyage combined discovery with plunder; when he and his weary crew finally dropped anchor in Plymouth, the hold of the Golden Hind contained a hoard of Spanish gold worth more than the rest of the Queen’s annual income combined. And when Philip II finally launched his long-expected invasion of England, Drake was the guiding light of the defenders; though nominally only second-in-command, he was effectively the admiral of the makeshift, enormously outnumbered fleet that met and vanquished the Spanish in a running battle up the English Channel, thus ensuring England’s survival and sowing the seeds of empire. Minkoff brings these stories alive, though readers may sometimes doubt that anyone could, some three decades later, recall events in such detail. The author is occasionally constrained by his framing devices, for the diary conceit and the tales-within-tales don’t allow for much exposition on subjects ranging from sixteenth century navigation to the curious mix of private commerce and public diplomacy that characterized Tudor England . . . Historically accurate, inventive in its language, and filled with exciting and epochal event, The Dragons of the Storm is a worthy successor to The Weight of Smoke.
~ Peyton Moss, ForeWord Magazine
Any reader who enjoys having history come alive will benefit from acquiring and reading all three volumes of In the Land of Whispers.
~ Robert Shultis, Virginia Gazette
The Leaves of Fate - Volume III
The Leaves of Fate is the third and final volume of an epic fictional chronicle, "In the Land of Whispers." The three books present the extraordinary histories of the hero of Jamestown, Captain John Smith, and the great Elizabethan explorer before him, Sir Francis Drake. Smith's journals record the events of his own life, and reprise the tales told him around the campfires at Jamestown by Jonas Profit, an alchemist who accompanied Drake on his voyages. In this final volume Smith is forced to return to England, never to set foot again in Jamestown. Profit has died, but not before passing along the final scenes of Drake's downfall, as well as that of Profit's teacher, the alchemist John Dee. Despite a subsequent expedition to map the New England coast, Smith is cast aside by the Virginia Company, and reduced to the role of a keening witness, all the while the colonies move inexorably toward becoming a slave economy built around the cultivation of tobacco. In London, Smith's reunion with Pocahontas in England is brief and bittersweet, but despite continuing hardship and neglect, Smith becomes the best-selling author of his time. The first volume is concerned with initiation. The second volume with trial and expulsion. This final volume is the book of exile.
The concluding volume of Minkoiff's heavyweight Jamestown trilogy...covers 1610 to 1630 and offers a detailed history of the English colonies told in flowery Elizabethan English.... As the story opens, Capt. John Smith, our narrator, has been exiled from Jamestown by political enemies and forced to return to England, where he writes wildly popular books about the colonies and reminisces in flashbacks to his days as an explorer, soldier, and colonizer; his love for Pocahontas;...battles with Indians; and England's many clashes with Spain. Best, however, are Smith's descriptions of life in Jamestown, with its famine, disease, and discord, as well as the rapacious greed of desperate colonists and wealthy London financiers who develop cash crop tobacco in lieu of food, a lament that lives in Smith through a brief reunion with Pocahontas and a crushing denouement. A fitting wrapup to an impressive trilogy, this expansive epic will surely please series fans with its authenticity, intrigue, and stylistic verve.
~ Publishers Weekly