Summary and book reviews of Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

Fallen Land

by Taylor Brown

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 288 pages

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Book Summary

Searching for a home in a ravaged landscape, two star-crossed lovers flee a ruthless band of bounty hunters, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to Sherman's March through Georgia in the final years of the Civil War.

An Indie Next Pick
A SIBA's Okra Pick Named one of the "Best Books of the Month" by Amazon and Goodreads

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake.

Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.

Chapter 1

Pale light crept into the black stanchions of pine, the ashen ground, the red center of dying coals. The camped men rose, silent, and broke the bread of old pillage between blackened fingers. One of their number looked at his own. Soot and powder, ash and dirt. Neat crescents accrued underneath the nails, trim and black, like he'd tried to dig himself out of a hole in the ground. Or into one.

Some of the others chewed loudly, bread dry in dry mouths. No tins rattled. There was no coffee, not for some days. He always wanted to talk in this quiet of early morning, to speak something into the silence that assembled them into the crooked line of horsemen. No colors among the trees. No badges, no uniforms. He wanted to ask what peace might be gained if they hovered here longer in the mist, did not mount and ride. But they always did.

So he sprang up first. He shoved the last crust down his gullet and kicked old Swinney where his britches failed him, an inordinance of cloven ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The black stallion, Reiver, is as much a character as any the people involved. What is his role in the story and what does he represent to Callum?
  2. Were any of Callum's killings justifiable?
  3. Is there a "turning point" in Ava and Callum's relationship where you can sense it deepening? What is it?
  4. Why did the men so blindly follow the bounty hunter, especially Swinney, if they did not agree with him and his methods?
  5. What made Ava trust Callum so implicitly when she didn't really know him?
  6. Why did Callum risk everything for Ava?
  7. A lot of emphasis is placed on the colors of certain horses in the story, from the black stallion, Reiver, to the Frenchman's cremello and the slave hunter's ash-colored mount. What might be the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Brown weaves his descriptive prose in a way that keeps the story moving at the steady pace of a war-deployed thoroughbred. The result is writing that fairly crunches like frozen scrub underfoot. This is in part, a tender love story, but one that is built on gristle, bone, heartless cold, and bitter revenge   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (628 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This is a Civil War odyssey in the tradition of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Daniel Woodrell's Woe to Live On, written in a vernacular that resurrects the era and fully brings alive Callum and Ava's adventures on the road.

Booklist

Starred Review. Much like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (1997) in style, subject, and mood, but also as evocative of the nineteenth-century American landscape as Karen Fisher's A Sudden Country (2005), this is a masterpiece that deserves a full serving of accolades.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Brown's expressive language captures the harsh realities of the South at the time. A nail-biting journey from first page to last.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. [T]his is American literature at its best, full of art and beauty and the exploration of all that is good and bad in the human spirit.

Author Blurb Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek, Boone, and The Road from Gap Creek
No one who reads Fallen Land will ever forget it. In this first novel Taylor Brown proves himself a fresh, authentic, and eloquent new voice in American fiction.

Author Blurb Pinckney Benedict, author of Town Smokes, The Wrecking Yard, and Dogs of God
A shattering debut that puts one strongly in mind of the young Cormac McCarthy, and the best historical fiction I've read in ages.

Author Blurb Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind Than Home
It is rare thing for a writer to have the talent and scope to exhibit both the worst and best of humanity in one book, much less in one scene, but that's what Brown does here: He literally floods the page with violent beauty and devastating grace.

Author Blurb Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
Powerfully written, wonderfully told, Fallen Land needs to be part of every collection of great storytelling of the American Civil War.

Reader Reviews

nelle

Fallen Land
Fallen Land is a page-turner. The main characters are well developed and the story of life, hardships and danger in the South at the end of the Civil War are depicted vividly. The violence is graphic at times, but it underlines a more realistic ...   Read More

Jane N. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)

Fallen Land
This is a powerful book about the devastating effects of war. Not in a foreign land but in our own, that war being the Civil War. Most of us think of the American Civil War as something that happened on the battlefields, if we think about it at all....   Read More

Mary D. (Claremont, CA)

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
If you are looking for a "boy meets girl and they run away, happy ending" sort of book, this is not it! Yes, boy does meet girl, they do run away, fleeing the terrors of the Civil War, trying to get to Atlanta, but my! What a journey! Taylor Brown...   Read More

Janis H. (Willow Street, PA)

Fallen Land
The devastated , murderous terrain of the mountains of the western boundaries of the Civil War and the burned soil of Georgia creates a backdrop for the desolation which the surviving inhabitants of the Fallen Land face in the wake of Sherman's ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Sherman's March To the Sea

Fallen Land is set during the end of the Civil War and describes a landscape in the aftermath of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's clamp-down of Georgia through which he delivered one of the definitive end points of the war between Union and Confederate forces.

Fallen Land describes the ravages wrought by the General's tactics, writing that deeply affected at least one reader who said, "the writing by Mr. Brown made me feel like I was along for the ride, following along behind Sherman's cursed troops as they left their scar across the South. Yes, I am Southern, born and bred and yes, it does anger me that Sherman felt he had to destroy innocent women and children this way."

Sherman's March to the Sea While this description of Sherman's destruction, ...

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