The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson

2008
04.21


kingdom on the waves
I already know what you’re going to say: “Jen! Why do you post about books that aren’t coming out for MONTHS, knowing full well I won’t be able to get my hot little hands on them anytime in the near future?” I know, I feel your pain and I apologize, but I just couldn’t wait to share my joy after reading the sequel to Octavian Nothing, the most amazing historical fiction ever. I was gifted with an early review copy and promptly sped through the 500+ pages in just a few days, dying to know what became of the experimental slave man-child raised by 18th century philosophers who used him as an example to prove that an African slave had all the same intellect and reason as a European man. After escaping his captors with the help of his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, at the end of the first book, now Octavian and the good doctor find themselves trapped in the besieged city of Boston, where resources are scarce and the rebels await just outside the city’s fortifications. Then Octavian hears that Lord Dunmore, the exiled Tory governor of Virginia, has issued a proclamation that promises freedom to all slaves who will join with his troops against the rebels. So Dr. Trefusis and Octavian travel to Norfolk, Virginia, where Octavian joins the Royal Ethiopian Regiment, in service to the King of England. But Octavian has a hard time fitting in with the rest of his escaped colleagues, as his exquisite manners and proper speech make him seem fussy and prim. In addition, the REG seems to spend more time sitting around and waiting in the hold of a stinky ship as they do actually fighting their former slave masters. Soon Octavian begins to wonder, “Rebel or Redcoat, were there none who needed to use us sufficiently to save us?” Beautifully written in the vernacular of the 18th century, this throughly researched sequel both stands alone and also answers all the questions readers had at the end of the first volume of Octavian’s unusual history. The action is fierce, the philosophy thought-provoking, and the characterizations complex and compelling. The incomparable M.T. Anderson poses questions about the meaning of liberty and the relativity of loyalty in the midst of war, while making connections between the American Revolution and the society we live in today. While they are in no way easy or quick reads, if you are a student of history or life, it would be well worth your while to read both volumes of the Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

5 Responses to “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson”

  1. Heather says:

    I heard M.T. Anderson speak a couple months ago in Denver, and when he said the book was coming out October 14th, I groaned. My baby is due on October 10th, and I want to be completely rested and alert when I read the second part of Octavian’s story, and right now that doesn’t look likely – not with the impending arrival of midnight feedings. Nor am I willing to wait. The minute I get my hot little hands on this book, it will be read! I just may have to read it again when I get my brain back. :o)

  2. Jen Hubert says:

    Don’t sell yourself short, Heather–you may be able to get to it between feedings:) Thanks for dropping in–

  3. Heather says:

    Okay, how weird is this? I just went and checked my mail, and there sitting amongst the junk mail and catalogs was a little brown package addressed to me. Inside this inconspicuous little package was Octavian Nothing Volume II!!! I would have done a little dance except that my doctor told me I shouldn’t be doing anything like that at all. Yay!

  4. Jen Hubert says:

    YAY! The Candlewick gods have smiled on you! Please come back and let me know what you think after you finish.

  5. jess says:

    I’m just glad to know it’s coming out sooner rather than later. Must make sure our YA librarian order this…

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Jen Hubert Swan
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