KIRKUS REVIEW ***Fate & Freedom Book I – The Middle Passage***
A young girl must adapt to a new life after losing her freedom in this sweeping debut work of historical fiction.
Margaret lives in Pongo, a town in Angola, situated on the western coast of Africa. She is the daughter of a Soba, a community leader, and her family holds a highly respected place in her community. Life changes drastically for the 8-year-old girl when Imbangala destroy her village, murder her family, and force her into slavery. What follows is a horror-filled journey for Margaret and her friend John. Their paths eventually intersect with Capt. Jope’s, a minister and buccaneer who believes it’s God’s will for him to ensure the safety of the young African children. Yet Margaret’s and John’s fates become irrevocably linked to several powerful men in England, including the Earl of Warwick and Sir Edwin Sandys. These two wealthy men lead opposing factions vying for control of the Virginia Company and their financial interests abroad in the American colonies. Though Margaret and John find peace and contentment in England, they are merely pawns in a larger political game. They are sent to Virginia where Margaret must endure the ever-present hardship and fear of an early colonist. At times tragic and gruesome, Knight’s first installment in a series of historical novels is a story of resilience and survival. The author does an excellent job of using Margaret’s and John’s experiences as a window to a broader narrative involving universal themes of power, money, and religion. The often overlooked story of the “black Mayflower” and the early arrival of Africans on the shores of America is detailed and well researched. Knight capably interweaves facts with fiction, bringing the historical figures alive. A compelling cast breathes life into a story that traces the roots of American slavery back to the 17th century.
*****FIVE STARS from READERS’ FAVORITE
Readers’ Favorite Declares the Fate & Freedom Series “a Masterpiece!”
“On Troubled Shores” is the third book in the Fate & Freedom series by K. I. Knight, a spellbinding historical drama that explores the themes of slavery, the fight for survival, and the quest for freedom, set against the backdrop of the slave-trade era. Margaret and John have been brutally torn away from their home and family in Africa by slave traders and unexpectedly rescued by an Englishman while on a ship destined for Mexico. Brought to the shores of Virginia, their arrival will set in motion a chain of events as the two struggle to navigate their new world. In the English New Colony of Virginia, they are about to witness the dark side of British politics and intrigue. But can they survive the harsh realities of life, so far from home, and will they ever be free?
This novel had me hooked from the very first page to the exciting denouement. The first thing that caught my attention was the strength of the prose. The descriptions are terrific, capturing even the most subtle emotions, the sights and smells, and the impact that the setting has on the characters. From the sound of the rain to the winding bends between narrow banks overgrown with birch trees, live oaks, and button willows on the verge of blossoming; from the fresh spring air, redolent with sweet, musty smells to the nostalgia of familiar landscapes in a distant land, the author allows readers to feel the anguish and the hope, the solitude and the cravings of the characters. Fate & Freedom is a masterpiece with an irresistible appeal for fans of deeply researched and deftly written historical novels with the theme of slavery.
Reviewed by Christian Sia
*****FIVE STARS from READERS’ FAVORITE
Fate and Freedom – Book II: The Turning Tides by K.I. Knight tells the continuing story of two African children, Margaret and John, as they grow into young people, having gone in different directions. Margaret goes to Jamestown, the first settlement in Virginia in the New World and settles into a life of servanthood, yet enjoys considerable respect and a certain amount of freedom. John accompanies Captain Jope into privateering on the high seas and learns all about life aboard ship, eventually earning the respect of the crew. Although worlds apart, the two never forgot each other until their dreams and their roles in life finally lead them back together. Intertwined with historical accuracy is the battle for power in England and the struggles in Virginia in this story of pioneering hardship and survival.
Knight has done an excellent job of weaving a story full of intrigue and adventure, yet also conveying an accurate historical account of life in the 17th century, both in England with its power struggles amongst the monarchy and those in Jamestown merely trying to survive and start the first new colony of settlers. The lengths to which the author has gone to ensure accuracy and to give credibility to the historical account with evident intensive research is a credit. The characters are believable and well developed and the storyline compelling and emotional. This book follows on from Book I: The Middle Passage, but works well as a standalone book in its own right. An excellent piece of writing from a clearly accomplished author.
Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers’ Favorite
K. I. Knight’s Fate & Freedom is Fantastic! An extraordinary and exciting story that has never been told before of the capture and arrival of the first Africans brought to English North America in 1619. Their story is one of tragedy, experiencing a new world of life and culture and how the political structure affected their freedom. The author has thoughtfully used historical facts to create a mesmerizing story of what life would have been like for those first Africans in their saga to survive.
Calvin Pearson, Founder, Project 1619 Inc.
Those who love and study history long to have it made real to them in a meaningful way. This book brings that reality to the reader with characters that are believable and vital. You care about these people, perhaps because they are based in truth, and due to K.I. Knight’s vast research into the politics and people that pioneered this continent. The storylines intertwine in a powerful and heart-touching way, becoming part of the foundation for this great nation, our heritage.
Dori Emerson Lloyd, Genealogist
K.I. Knight combines dogged, meticulous genealogical research and remarkable empathy to form a vibrant, well-paced narrative. She gives life to two otherwise anonymous people, taken for property, and tells a story of America through their eyes. It’s a telling long overdue, informative and entertaining. K.I. Knight scores big!
J. K. Broughton, Attorney at Law
“Black history is American history.” – Morgan Freeman
In the past two decades the United States’ government has tried to do what it thought would help to ‘right past wrongs’ when it comes to African-Americans and their role in the history of America. In Ms. K. I. Knight’s Fate and Freedom she adds her voice to a growing chorus that has begun to recognize the vital role that Africans played in the founding of the United States.
The earliest beginnings of history of the United States taught in school focuses on the Mayflower and the pilgrims. It is a catchier story. But America was founded on two principles not just one. The first settlers of Virginia searched for gold, and in finding none, tried their luck at tobacco. America was, and still is today, a country built on religious freedom and economics.
In Fate and Freedom it’s very interesting and accurate when we read about how prevalent Africans were in Jamestown and how little extra attention they drew from the Europeans. Africans were an integral part of early Virginia. It is unfortunate that most Americans know so little about this period and the role Africans played in it. This in turn, I believe, has led to some of the myriad problems we have today trying to be a complete multi-ethnic society.
Ms. Knight also pulls us in to the story using multiple techniques. Ms. Knight uses present tenses to tell the narrative which, in the words of the History Channel, make ‘history come alive’. Ms. Knight also uses much vocabulary that is not so well-known or used often today, some of the terms may even be borderline archaic. But it works because it helps the reader get a feeling for the time and the place.
Another thing that we feel from reading Fate and Freedom is just how haphazard life was and can be. Those who deserve good things often do not receive them, and conversely, those who have earned our wrath live well. It is what it is. Death was present in many forms those earliest American years and always lurking around the next bend of the road or river. Everyone who didn’t die was a true survivor.
It’s obvious that tons of research went into writing Fate and Freedom. The very specific subjects like ship sailing, herbs in a British garden in spring, and the histories and intrigues of the Earl of Warwick and other major players are not normally things that the average person on the street has any inkling of. It is much for us to absorb, as it must have been much for the main characters, Margaret and John, to absorb.
I would have preferred if Ms. Knight had been a bit more frugal with clues about what was to happen next. A few times she states what a decent detective or diligent reader could surmise from previous information. Less is more. But this is a trifle.
Overall, Fate and Freedom is a book that could be used to help teach an American History class, to pass the time on a long flight, or simply, to enjoy under a warm blanket or in an air conditioned living room. It is a book for any time and any place.
The second part of the trilogy is due out at the end of this year, and I for one, can say exactly what I’d like for Christmas.
Michael V. Owens, Writer – Laptops and Lederhosen