Small things can change a world: A wound not-received can make for a whole different America...
"1812: The Rivers of War"
It's 1814 and the "War of 1812" is moving into its final rounds. In the north, the U.S. and Britain clash near the Canadian border. In the south, a combined U.S. and Cherokee force storms the last big redoubt of Tecumseh's Creeks - and a young Sam Houston makes a name for himself in the battle and draws the attention of Andrew Jackson.
Months later, Houston and a small band of Cherokee arrive in Washington on a mission from Jackson...just in time to watch the British march on the city...
I really enjoyed this book, if for no other reason than it delves a lot, lot more deeply into the events of "The War of 1812" that, say, the average school history book (which usually gets away with bare mentioning the burning of the White House, the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, and the fact that Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans after
the war was officially over).
I also liked the characters, which were believably done. Flint managed to avoid any real "villains" or "heros" in the story - the people in it are just that, people. Their actions seem, well, likely
ones and even if you wouldn't invite them round for tea (Jackson comes to mind under this category), you find them interesting. To my mind, they're much
better written than Flint's 1632
The basic POD is both simple and gloriously ASB-free (unlike, again fer example, 1632)
: During the storming of the Creek's "fortress" in the Battle of Horseshow Bend
(ironically, this is in 1814
, which makes the title of the book mildly inaccurate, to say the least - but Flint has a thing for years in his titles...I don't know why. Honestly, we can
keep track without them!) Houston slips while climbing the barricade and thus does not
pick up the, um, nasty groin injury he got on OTL. Since he's not laying around recovering for the next year, he's there to get involved in the closing events of the war - from the attack on Washington to the Battle of New Orleans. And while doing this, he gets involved in events that might
end up changing the very face of Indian relations in the U.S.
Flint writes in his afterword that the whole point of this timeline is to try and come up with a world where the Trail of Tears doesn't happen and the Cherokee remain a viable - and reservation-free - nation. Since he can't see a way for them to fight and win against the U.S. when it comes to kick them out of South Carolina, he suggests that if instead they moved earlier
and on their own terms (including some nice pay-offs from the U.S. government), they might have both the extra time and extra resources to build a state capable of - if not being an equal to the U.S. - at least not being just another bunch of Indians they can roll over.
He might actually have managed this.
Besides, in the sea of published genre books these days where the words "rigorous" and "alternate history" usually don't come within a dozen timelines of one-another, it's refreshing to see one where:
- Absolutely no one in it builds a dirigible, a new "rapid fire" weapon, a steam-tank, or indeed any new (for there and then) technology at all. Heck, they don't even come up with any new military tactics!
- There are no dinosaurs...or magic...or psychic powers...or time travelers.
- The South doesn't win, nor the Nazis, and Rome fell right on schedule. Heck, even Napoleon is still losing.
- And while the Cherokee are moving early, there's no guarantee (at least, in this book) that this will result in a lasting Indian Nation...
Recommended. A lot.
"1824: The Arkansas War"
Ten years later, the United States, under the influence of Sam Houston, has signed a treaty with the southern Indian tribes, establishing a Confederacy of chiefdoms in the territory of Arkansas. From all over Indians make their way to this new nation formed of several chiefdoms.
In the eastern most of these chiefdoms, Arkansas, Patrick Drisoll rules as its "Laird" and has banned slavery, drawing escaped slaves and free Blacks by the thousands (along with a lesser number of Whites and Indians). An Arkansas army has formed around the core of the old "Iron Brigade", which moved their following a battle with the Louisiana militia.
Meanwhile in the Southern states, anger against a nation of "escaped slaves" is growing and an expedition is formed to smash this upstart "nation"...
...but the only thing smashed is the expedition itself.
John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay latch onto the "problem" of Arkansas as a way to boost their political power...and aims to use it to take the Presidency for Clay. But neither Andrew Jackson nor John Quincy Adams wants to see a Clay presidency and they form the nucleus of what will be a new political party as the number of enemies of Clay and Calhoun grows...
But Clay takes the Presidency anyway...and starts a war with Arkansas.
Now the U.S. Army is marching on Arkansas...and there's no guarantee they'll be able to smash this
This book is, if anything, even better than the first. Flint has a very good grasp on the political intricrasies of early 19th
Century America...and a better one on making realistic characters. Even the "bad guys" of the piece are done as fully rounded people.
We get to see how a new nation/culture is forming in the chiefdom of Arkansas and what's forming is very believable. So are the reactions to it from the United States (and the World) that surrounds it. You can see that whether the new country survives or falls, it will have changed the whole history of North America - and probably the world - before it is done.
Now all we have to do is wait for the promised third and fourth books!