Thursday, June 17, 2010


Historical Novels Review calls The Fairest Portion of the Globe by Frances Hunter (Blind Rabbit Press, 2010) "a well-researched, fast-paced, and incredibly lively novel of frontier war and intrigue in 1793 Louisiana." Whoever controls the vast domain along the Mississippi River will decide the fate of North America. It's winner take all...and the losers might include two reckless young soldiers whose dreams of adventure in the West will end in death or glory.

So where is this...?

For a while he forgot himself completely. The ground was bubbling with salty springs that ran warm over his fingers. Mastodons, mammoths, and other ancient animals had come here to drink, and their fossilized remains were everywhere. He picked up several giant teeth and stuffed them in his knapsack; he spent a glorious hour trying to find the tibia and fibula to match a giant thighbone he found standing on end at the edge of a bubbling spring. Tusks, ribs, and skulls lay on the ground, their cavernous eyes gaping at him as he rambled amidst the salt flats, the only living creature in a vast tableau of lovely, ruined solitude. He wished with all his heart that he could box up all the fossils and cart the lot of them home for Mr. Jefferson.

Picking his way around the lick, he thrilled to the tremor of the bog’s skin beneath his feet. Across a stretch of sodden earth, he saw a sight that took his breath away: the skeleton of an ancient horse resting on a sandy ledge, scattered upon the ground as if the animal had simply laid down to sleep a million years ago. His heart almost burst with longing. He had to see it—to touch it—to count the bones—

Beneath him the ground quaked, little more than a saturated sponge of smelly, half-rotted vegetation. But what the hell! Who ever gained anything without risk? Carefully shifting his pack to balance the load, he had held onto a tree branch and stepped out gingerly onto the bog. It held.

A wild surge of rapture overtook him. For a crazy moment, he started to bounce. His movement caused ripples to undulate out in all directions as the bog rocked and quaked. Grinning like a madman, he watched the trees that clung to the tangled mats of moss rise and fall along with him.

Strong enough to hold a man’s weight. Here goes—

Click comment to tell us who is this excited young man, and whether he and his partner in discovery examined the fossils at:

a) The Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in California
b) Big Bone Lick in Kentucky
c) Olduvai Gorge in eastern Africa

All opinions and thoughts welcome!


Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said...

Must I choose from those three? i was going to say Seaside, Oregon.

Nan who got Pompey wrong.

PS I look forward to being the excerpt .. I suppose it's possible you will find something about the Trent or the coastline or the Holy Isle in Sn Involuntary King.. but if not, "Beloved Pilgrim" working title will be jam packed with possibilities.

Jen Black said...

No idea who he is - but he's mad as a hatter!

Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said...

I suppose it must Big Bone Lick in Kentucky. It's the second book, right, where Clark is looking into Lewis's death?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Frances Hunter here. It's in The Fairest Portion of the Globe, early in Lewis & Clark's careers.

Confusingly enough, the first book we wrote, To the Ends of the Earth, is about their later years. The new book, Fairest, is a "prequel" and takes place earlier in time. We had so much great materials and stories to share!

Michael said...