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.
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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.
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 ...
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).
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."
While this description of Sherman's destruction, ...
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