The Rivers of War
by Eric Flint
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0345465679
Date: 17 May, 2005 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Turning points come at many different times and places. The literary world is filled with stories that track from these points. The great divergence in this new series by Eric Flint starts in The Rivers Of War. This alternate history starts during the War of 1812. It tells a tale where the events that led the Cherokee Nation to the Trail of Tears in our timeline, are directed instead to a new path that ultimately will lead to a Trail of Glory. The events of this book, set during the final year of the War of 1812, start and end with a bang.
Andrew Jackson duels a critic in the opening. His unbending will and temper come out quickly as he moves towards the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. His ambitions drive his every action and choice. He knows what his young nation needs and will do whatever it takes to help it get there.
Sam Houston, a young ensign, meets Jackson and begins to climb the chain of command. Houston?s actions garner the attention of Jackson who decides to bring Houston into his fold and provide opportunities for this young adopted Cherokee. When Houston is sent to Washington DC along with several young Cherokee, two events that will shape the course of his future occur. Houston meets Patrick Driscol and together they defend the Capitol from the British invasion.
Patrick Driscol, the former Sergeant, was promoted to Lieutenant for his deeds in Canada under Winfield Scott. His ability to motivate and fortify men makes him a formidable opponent. Sent towards Washington to speed his recovery Driscol is in Baltimore when news of the British invasion reaches him. He rushes towards Washington gathering soldiers along the way.
One of the Cherokee is a young woman trying to find her path. Tiana Rogers follows Houston to keep a promise she made years earlier, but finds something completely different. Her half brothers James and John Rogers travel with her and Sam Houston to Washington DC and play a pivotal role in charting her future and that of the Cherokee nation.
The fate of the Cherokee nation lies in the hands of these few players. Their links to Chief Ridge and the free blacks of the south will bring the Cherokee nation the chance to determine their own fate and stand as a nation, and not be forced to accept less.
This story concludes in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans. A canon shot sets the course of a new life. Decisions and promises must now be filled, in the next story. Opportunities abound, if they just reach out and take them. Each surviving character has a part to play in turning tragedy into triumph.
I do know a little about American History, but the specifics of the War of 1812 are not an area of expertise. I did do a little research to see how things played out in our timeline. If you are curious, feel free to do the same. I enjoyed the story. As a big fan of alternate history, I like the premise and enjoy the exploration of possibilities. Simply put, I anxiously await the second volume in this series where the foundations built and promises made will be tested.