- Novels & Novellas
- In the Land of Whispers (3 vol. set)
In the Land of Whispers (3 vol. set)
"George Minkoff is one of the bravest men alive. He has gambled that a three-part epic novel about 17th century Colonial America — written in a language that mimics the speech of the time — can hold the interest of 21st century readers and bring satisfactions and delights as a work of contemporary fiction. Remarkably enough, he has won his bet." — Paul Auster
In the Land of Whispers is one of the more ambitious works of historical fiction to appear in recent years. Minkoff's brilliant trilogy chronicles the founding of the first successful English colony in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Many of its figures are familiar to legend — Captain John Smith, Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas —but the truth is much grander, as this extraordinary work amply demonstrates. In the Land of Whispers might be described more accurately as a "visionary epic," rather than as "historical fiction." Its canvas is vast, intertwining the life of John Smith (the narrator) with that of Sir Francis Drake, the great Elizabethan explorer and privateer whose feats thirty years earlier had inspired Queen Elizabeth to dream of a British empire. In each successive volume — The Weight of Smoke, The Dragons of the Storm, and The Leaves of Fate — Minkoff brings to life the colonists who crossed treacherous seas into unknown lands to pursue a New Jerusalem, only to find their ideals ultimately shattered on the altar of slavery. Yet despite its grand dimensions, this narrative is also intimate — often taking the form of tales of wizardry and wonder. George Minkoff's prose is so rich with metaphor that it captures the era with panache and authenticity. Smith's journals record the events of his own life, and reprise the stories told him around the campfires at Jamestown by Jonas Profit, an alchemist who accompanied Drake on his voyages.
The first volume is concerned with initiation. The second volume with trial and expulsion. The final volume is the book of exile. For additional descriptions, please see the individual volume listings.
Clothbound, 3 volume set, 1165 pages, 6 x 9", 2011, no separate set ISBN
Optioned for a mini-series by Zoetrope Studios
"Minkoff’s epic trilogy succeeds in presenting a far from simple story. He understands the complex politics, and the ambiguous motives, not only of the English planters but also of the Native peoples of the period. And no one has granted the reader a better entrance into the mind, heart, and spirit of the passionate, practical, wondrously wordy, unyielding and iconoclastic John Smith.
"Each page of this most worthy conclusion to Minkoff’s magnificent journey is so beautifully written that I found it difficult to leave behind and not reread for the intoxication of its language.— Joseph Bruchac
"The Leaves of Fate is a great feast of a novel, full of vivid incident, memorable history, intrigue, and historical personages famous, infamous, notorious." — Richard Ford
"The concluding volume of Minkoiff's heavyweight Jamestown trilogy. . . covers 1610 to 1630 and offers a detailed history of the English colonies told in flowery Elizabethan English. . . . As the story opens, Capt. John Smith, our narrator, has been exiled from Jamestown by political enemies and forced to return to England, where he writes wildly popular books about the colonies and reminisces in flashbacks to his days as an explorer, soldier, and colonizer; his love for Pocahontas;...battles with Indians; and England's many clashes with Spain. Best, however, are Smith's descriptions of life in Jamestown, with its famine, disease, and discord, as well as the rapacious greed of desperate colonists and wealthy London financiers who develop cash crop tobacco in lieu of food, a lament that lives in Smith through a brief reunion with Pocahontas and a crushing denouement. A fitting wrap-up to an impressive trilogy, this expansive epic will surely please series fans with its authenticity, intrigue, and stylistic verve." — Publishers Weekly
EDITOR'S CHOICE: "There is a curse upon the adventurers and mendicants, second sons of the aristocracy and would-be sovereigns of their own destiny who sailed for the New World. The altruistic English settler Captain John Smith -- a name forever coupled with that of Pocahontas -- is the narrator of The Leaves of Fate, the last volume of an ambitious, lavishly researched trilogy, In the Land of Whispers. It begins in 1610 in the ill-fated settlement of Jamestown -- starvation has claimed the lives of most settlers, a madman spits his tale of cannibalism to Smith, and a London emissary (the ostentatious governor De La Warr who lent Delaware its name) is about to take charge of the affairs of 'state.' Chief Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, will be held for ransom -- in exchange for eight English captives -- but her entrapment is mirrored in the circumstances of many of the motley, vividly drawn characters that strut and crawl across the stage -- from London to the virgin forests of the New World. The English couincils and companies backing the settlements care little for their struggling colonists and too much for their own profit. Back in London, Smith writes: 'I am exhausted in my enterprise. I sank in the bowels of a rotting London, its intestines strangled in twisted mud.'
"The crux of this enterprise, and its self-fulfilling curse, is made explicit many times over, but synopsized by none other than Sir Thomas Dale, deputy governor of Jamestown, after a murderous, vengeful attack on the Nansemond tribe "...to spread our dominion. Our borders are to overflow. Drake brought the world to our plate and our tongue is greased, its avarice upon our nation's lips.' The Leaves of Fate is an epic tale and Minkoff has chosen to mimic the language of the time. If its cadence seems overwrought to the modern ear, its descriptive powers are worth the struggle. This is an admirable and captivating account of the rough and costly early years of our history, scrupulously retold by a master storyteller." — Betsy Sussler, BOMB
"Between 1610 and 1630, the Jamestown settlement in the English colonies began to take shape -- the colonists left the safe confines of the walled-in town and established farms nearby, growing the popular cash crop, tobacco. Infringment on the lands held by the local Native Americans would cause many deaths between the white settlers and the local tribes. John Smith, banished from the community upon threat of death, is isolated in England writing his stories of his experiences settleing Jamestown. Intermingled with these current events is his remembernce of his discussions with Jonas Profit, an alchemist and a sailing mate of Sir Francis Drake. Drake's encounters with the Spanish and his attack on the Spanish mainland are also revealed.
"This novel is the third installment of the fictional account of the Land of Whispers. The language the author employs to tell his tale mimics the speech of the 17th century. At times, it was difficult to follow the story without rereading sentences, but because I have read the first two installments of this trilogy, I knew what to expect. Mr. Minkoff is a very talented writer whose use of English is similar to that of Shakespeare's sonnets — you must read and concentrate on the significance of his choice of words to fully comprehend the novel while you follow the plot of the story. If you are looking for a novel that is fast-paced and full of action, this book is not for you. If you value the tone and construction of the English language in sentences that are poetic in nature and add refinement to the ordinary novel, you will enjoy and savor this book. Highly recommended for readers with sophisticated literary tastes." — Jeff Westerhoff, Historical Novels Review
"Told through a secret diary and letters from the colonies, The Leaves of Fate bears witness to Virginia's slide toward becoming a slave economy built upon the cultivation of tobacco. There's more profit in the 'weed,' and avarice hangs upon its leaf. Smith wants no part of this. He has in mind a colony in 'New England,' but is unable to find a backer for an expedition. . . . In the end, John Smith is not only an outcast from his beloved New World, but exiled from the noble line of ancestry in the Old World. As he says, 'What is remembered is but the shade of what we lived.'" — Trina Carter, ForeWord Reviews
"No author that I know of has brought home [Jamestown's] trials and tribulations more vividly than Minkoff.... Yes, this volume, along with the first two of the series, is a novel, but it is based on the 'real world' in the Jamestown Colony in the early 1600s. It is obvious that Mr. Minkoff has done an enormous amount of research on the periods he covers. Any reader who enjoys having history come alive will benefit from acquiring and reading all three volumes of 'In the Land of Whispers.'" — Robert Shultis, Virginia Gazette
"The final volume of Berkshires author Minkoff’s magisterial trilogy is not literary fast food. Exquisitely wrought narration rewards patient readers with a richly detailed chronicle of Captain John Smith’s exile from a beleaguered Jamestown and the rise of tobacco, often in images of startling beauty. Minkoff’s visionary epic has gained a cult following, including Paul Auster and Richard Ford." — Chronogram