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The River of Kings

por Taylor Brown

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715295,797 (3.63)2
"The Altamaha River, Georgia's "Little Amazon," has been named one of the 75 "Last Great Places in the World." Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America. Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father's ashes toward the sea. Hunter is a college student, Lawton a Navy SEAL on leave; both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river's mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes. In The River of Kings, SIBA-bestselling author Taylor Brown artfully weaves three narrative strands--the brothers' journey, their father's past, and the dramatic history of the river's earliest people--to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 5 de 5
it was a slow read for me. I struggled with the different time lines. Just as I was involved with one time line the story would switch off to another making it disjointed and maddening. Each time was was wonderful on it's own but broken into bits just took too much away to enjoy the book as a whole. ( )
  TheYodamom | Feb 10, 2018 |
This is a different read for me lately but was really really good. I'm from the South so the history interest of the river in Georgia was what made me want to read it. The author went back and forth from the building of Fort Caroline, 1500's to modern times with two brothers kayaking on the river to spread their fathers ashes on the same river he grew up on. It was so well written and never dragged. Great read. ( )
  mchwest | Oct 14, 2017 |
Taylor Brown, whose last novel, Fallen Land, quickly became a bestseller, is in love with a river. At least, that’s what anyone who reads this unabashed love letter to Georgia’s Altamaha River would assume.

I must admit that before reading this book I had no idea where the Altamaha River was or even that it existed. Even when I did look into it, I wasn’t immediately impressed. I’ve spent the majority of my life where a 137-mile river would be hard-pressed to reach the next county, let alone make it onto a map. Fortunately, Taylor Brown has made it a goal of his to educate poor ignorant fools like me about one of the few remaining untamed waterways in America. It even has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster, if some witnesses are to be believed.

The River of Kings tells three stories in alternating chapters covering a timespan of over 450 years beginning in June, 1564 when a party of French adventurers landed near the mouth of the Altamaha and built a fort that they named Fort Caroline. This settlement, which predated the landing at Plymouth Rock by more than half a century, was the first fort built by Europeans on what would eventually become the United States. It’s no surprise that few people nowadays know of this fort as a contemporary of theirs, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, could have easily been referring to its existence when he penned the phrase "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". One of these ill-fated Frenchmen was Jacque Le Moyne de Morgue, an illustrator who joined the expeditions in order to provide an accurate portrayal of the native and animals that inhabited the newly discovered lands to the west. Included in the chapters are copies of several of his illustrations that portray graphically the hardships faced by Le Moyne and his companions.

The next section begins in 1975 when readers meet Hiram Loggins moments before he jumps off his shrimp trawler a few steps ahead of the DEA and local sheriff’s department. His escape takes him up the Altamaha to a new life, one that imbues in him a great appreciation of the river that saved him. In the years that follow, Hiram marries and has two sons, Hunter and Lawton, whose story comprises the third story line of the book. The time is now and the two brothers have met near the source of the river to kayak down it. Two reasons for this journey have been stated: to scatter their father’s ashes and to discover what caused their father’s death. On their journey, they learn much about themselves and also about the river that their father had raised them to appreciate; its wildlife and old growth forests, its wetlands and everchanging waterways.

It has been said of Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa and a geologist by training, that his writing has the ability to bring stones to life and to turn people to stone. I fear that Taylor Brown suffers from a similar debility. I read Fallen Land over a year ago and still can picture clearly the landscape the couple in it traveled through but I remember very little about them themselves. It is when the author leaves behind the world of men and enters the green-shaded corridors of Georgia wetlands that his voice really comes to life. I was totally enthralled by the descriptions of the river, the trees, the grasslands through which the characters journeyed.
This is the kind of magic one refers to when they say an author can teleport readers to distant lands. The characters, though, did not really impress me. My favorite was Hiram but his story was the least told of the three. I would love to get inside his head and find out what he thought about and why he did the things he did.

Bottom line: Taylor Brown has an amazing way with prose. He can make me see the places and events he is describing. Where he falls short, though, is his ability to introduce his readers to his characters in such a way that they really get to know them, to learn what motivates them, and above all, to make those characters matter to the reader.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire. ( )
  Unkletom | Jul 29, 2017 |
Hiram was a hard man, a tough man and he made the Altamaha River his home, knew every nook and cranny, every island and offshoot, yet his quest to make a living from the river, failed time and time again. He was a hard father, sometimes cruel, but he taught his two sons to love the river, taught them all he could, showed them all he could. When he is killed, said to be by a sturgeon strike, his two sons, Lawton, a navy seal and Hunter a college student undertake a journey by two skiffs to where the river meets the ocean and there scatter there father's ashes. Lawton though, thinks there is more to the story of his father's death and is determined to find the truth.

Three separate strands, the son's journey alternating with Hiram's life story on the river and the third, historically taken back to 1546 and the French's attempt to build and hold Fort Caroline, narrated by Le Moyne, an artist along on the journey to document this accomplishment.

I have a very visual memory, when I read I form pictures, like snapshots in my mind, this is how I remember or try to remember the books I read. The descriptions in this book are outstanding, one feels as if they were there, right along with the characters. A very character driven novel, an adventure story, a father, son story, an environmental story and very much a story of man vs. Nature. The river of course being one of the main characters, surviving, changing for hundreds of years. Well rounded, thought out characters, exquisite prose, often gritty but as you can see from my rating all three threads of this story pulled me in, because although a change in focus they all added to the mystique of the river and of man's quest to find their place and live within nature.

Reminded me a little of [book:To The Bright Edge of the World|27917957], the journey the men undertook in that story. Taylor Brown is an author who can definitely write, and write exceedingly well.

ARC from publisher.
Publishes March 21st from St. Martin's Press. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jan 31, 2017 |
Three stories in one, all centering around the Altamaha River in Georgia. Story one, a present day kayak trip of two brothers. Story two, a look back at the brother's father, and his relationship with the river. And story three, a look at a French exploration of the area almost 500 years ago. Taylor Brown is a very good writer, his prose and descriptions are engaging. They make you feel like you are actually present during each story. And the manner in which he interwove the stories was flawless. Could have easily been a five star review, except for the fact that the ending seemed a bit rushed. A very good, enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  1Randal | Jan 9, 2017 |
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"The Altamaha River, Georgia's "Little Amazon," has been named one of the 75 "Last Great Places in the World." Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America. Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father's ashes toward the sea. Hunter is a college student, Lawton a Navy SEAL on leave; both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river's mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes. In The River of Kings, SIBA-bestselling author Taylor Brown artfully weaves three narrative strands--the brothers' journey, their father's past, and the dramatic history of the river's earliest people--to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination"--

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