I am excited to provide you a with a review of this book, Master of Alaska
Historical Fiction Published September 2016: The Master of Alaska follows the story of Aleksandr Andreievich Baranov, a merchant from Russia who is sent by Catherine the Great to protect the country’s interest in Alaska. It is the strongly character driven story of a man who survived a shipwreck, earthquake, tribal wars and religious conflicts. Baranov successfully controlled and expanded the fur trade while guiding the area to a peaceful and profitable resolution.
The two-masted Russian galiot in which Aleksandr Andreievich Baranov is sailing smashes into the rocks off Unalaska Island during a storm in the Bering Sea in 1790. The angry water splinters her hull and sends all sailors and passengers into the surf. They were to land in what the Aleutian Natives called “Alaska,” the mainland of Russian America in 1790, but had detoured because of the immediate need for fresh water. All hands were saved.
The character driven Master of Alaska follows Baranov, anxious to prove that a mere “mestchanin” (merchant class citizen) could succeed in his quest as chief manager to stay the British drive for control of the territory while managing the natives, the landscape, the weather, and the fur trading wealth.
Baranov learns the language and is manipulated into “marriage” with the Aleuts’ chief’s daughter, whom he names “Anna.” He completely immersed himself within their culture and accepted as a strong and faithful ally, the Aleut Kuponek.
Tlingit Chief Katlian and his warlike tribe are a continual source of struggle and a constant battle of wits as well as bloody disagreements, misunderstandings, and massacres. (The author dedicates a satisfying back-story to help us understand the passion behind Katlian and the tribe fighting to keep the land as their ancestors bequeathed.) If the Tlingits are not enough, he is sent priests from Mother Russia to help convert the natives to Christianity and discovers a huge clash in personal philosophy, as the priest Nektarios is found single-minded in his convert quest.
But there is a rub: Baranov accepted a position meant for two years by Catherine the Great to manage the outpost and had fully expected to resolve his financial default and return to his Russian family. Baranov in the meantime, has proven himself to the natives with his wit and intellect and gains the respect of the local community. They have given him the name Nanuq, which means the polar bear or great white hunter.
Two years become twenty-eight and during that time has seen him become the first governor of Alaska (1799 to 1818), turn yearly profits for the Russian fur company, expand and protect settlements, establish an educational system, build ships, and establish trade with Hawaii and China. He promoted Christianity to the natives and encouraged agriculture as well as mining the sea for food. No small amount of print is given the romance between him and Anna as they form an unusual bond and create for him a second family.
The story is deftly crafted as a chronicle; compassionate, compelling, boldly honest…to a point. The author manages to switch between benevolent, believable dialogue between natives, the clergy, and the visiting ships occupants whatever their origin.
Author Roger Seiler added his own storytelling craft to a novel rich with researched letters, documents, bibliographies, maps, and more. As he notes a Native American proverb, “This story may or may not have happened this way, but it is true.” This author has a beautiful way of constructing gripping stories, reveling in the scenes, sharing the pine-scented air, ducking arrows, and creating heart-stopping action with his characters. The book is currently available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I loved the book and you will too!
I downloaded this novel for the blog tour request by Sage Adderly of Sage’s Blog Tours and wish to thank both the author Roger Seiler and True North Publishing. It has been my pleasure to read and review your work and I can recommend to anyone who has ever viewed Alaska as mysterious and alluring. You were right!
Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
The Author: Roger Seiler is no stranger to the wild and harsh environment of Alaska having grown up in King Salmon, Alaska, the son of a bush pilot. He is a graduate UCLA Film School and is an award-winning filmmaker. His first historical novel, Naked Thinkers, earned him an Amazon’s top reader rating. Don’t forget to like his Facebook page! ©2107 Virginia Williams