Backlash To The American Colonization Society

Following my last post, one may say, “These bigots lived in the past. They didn’t know any better.” While it’s true that the most powerful voices during this time period shared incredibly racist sentiments, to say they didn’t know better is a lie. There were voices detailing everything that was wrong with the American Colonization Society. David Walker, who I’ve talked about before, devoted a whole section in his appeal against the American Colonization Society.

“But to return to Mr. Clay, whence I digressed. He says, “it was proper and necessary distinctly to state… a delicate question, connected with another portion of the coloured population of our country. It was not proposed to deliberate upon or consider at all, any question of emancipation… It was upon that condition alone, he was sure, that many gentlemen from the South and the West, whom he saw present… could be expected to co-operate. It was upon that condition only, that he himself had attended.”—That is to say, to fix a plan to get those of the coloured people, who are said to be free, away from among those of our brethren whom they unjustly hold in bondage, so that they may be enabled to keep them the more secure in ignorance and wretchedness, to support them and their children, and consequently they would have the more obedient slaves. For if the free are allowed to stay among the slaves, they will have intercourse together, and, of course, the free will learn the slaves bad habits, by teaching them that they are MEN, as well as other people, and certainly ought and must be FREE.”

Y’all, Clay was so wordy. I took out some of the “Or” and “And” sentence fragments that not only added nothing to the point, but obfuscated the meaning. Clearly Walker felt like Clay was burying the lede too. I don’t think Clay’s excessive wordiness was merely a product of the time, either. I think he was deliberately obfuscating the point. Obviously I can’t prove it – just like I can’t prove that Walker was murdered (officially he died from tuberculosis) – but, there you go.

Walker wasn’t the only one who was against the American Colonization Society. Really, the fact that only 12,000 out of the millions of black people who lived in United States actually moved to Liberia kind of speaks for itself. But, there were also many groups of people who came together to speak against the American Colonization Society. In Boston on the 25th of January, 1831, for instance, a meeting was held in which it was resolved that… Well:

Bottom says: “Resolved, That we view the Resolution calling on the worshipers of Christ to assist on the unholy crusade against the colored population of this country…” [continues on next image]

Unequivocally straight language. I don’t think there’s any more I need to say. So I’ll leave you with the rest of the article that began in the image above – “An Address To The Citizens of New York.” And then, hopefully, we’ll be done with looking at the American Colonization Society. I’m not sure what story I’ll write about next, but… I’m hoping for more stories of individual people. That’s what I like the most.

The smudged sentence says: “Their opinions are formed from the unfortunate portion of our people whose characters are scrutinized by them as judges of courts.”


Founders of the American Colonization Society

One could argue that the American Colonization Society started with Paul Cuffe, since in 1815 he was the first African-American to transport free African-Americans to Africa. But, Cuffe never interacted with the American Colonization Society. The founders of the society did take inspiration from him, but since Paul Cuffe died on September 7, 1817 and the society had only been founded the year before, there’s very little overlap between him and the society.

As for the actual founders, I’ll start with the Reverend Robert Finley. He was born in 1772 in Princeton, New Jersey. He died October 3rd, 1817, in Athens, Georgia. He had just been made the president of the University of Georgia (my alma mater) right before he died so he was buried on campus. I’ve passed by his cemetery hundreds of times on the way to the library. I don’t know why I’m writing about that. It was just a weird connection that I wasn’t expecting to have with a man who lived most of his life in New Jersey. But, anyway, what was Robert Finley like? What has he written?

So… Yeah… He wasn’t a friend of African-Americans. Clearly. “We should be cleared of them,” indeed. And this was one of the founders? But, maybe some of the other founders were less bigoted. Who were they? Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, James Munroe, Daniel Webster, and Francis Scott Key, among a host of others – most being powerful men. But, to not make this too long, I’ll just focus on the first three.

Charles Fenton Mercer was born in 1778. I couldn’t find much on him. That probably means he’s totally unremarkable. But he was one of the founding members of the American Colonization Society. I did find this written in Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South by Lacy K. Ford under number 95 on page 560 in her footnotes (I love the internet).

Charles Mercer’s interest in colonization was more conservative than humanitarian. To be sure, Mercer readily admitted that “slavery is wrong” and denounced the institution as the “blackest of all blots and foulest of deformities.” But Mercer also argued that “freeing the slaves now would do more harm than good.” He regularly insisted that colonization had “nothing…to do with domestic slavery” but only with the removal of free blacks. the Virginian’s views on free blacks were strikingly harsh but not atypical. Mercer casually asserted that “more than half” of all free black women were “prostitutes” and more than half of all free black males were “rogues.” Colonization, he insisted, would free the state from a group of people who were “every day polluting and corrupting public morals.” Egerton, Charles Fenton Mercer, 107-12.

This guy was even worse than Fenley! It’s clear he just wants to get rid of free blacks. Is it no wonder that black people wanted nothing to do with the American Colonization Society when this is one of its leading founders?

Henry Clay, also known as the Great Compromiser because he helped father the Tariff of 1833, was a member. He had a very long and distinguished political career. He was elected to the House of Representatives multiple times, He was a senator multiple times, he was Speaker of the House from 1823 to 1825, and was Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams.

In practice, Clay cared more about keeping the nation unified than about taking any hard stance against slavery. But according to one of his biographers (and yes, I’m using Wikipedia for this. But it is mostly a direct quote from a reputable source)

Clay considered himself to be a “good” master, and biographer James C. Klotter concludes that Clay took actions, such as keeping families together, to mitigate the harshness of slavery. Klotter also concludes that there is no evidence that Clay ever had an affair with any of his slaves. Yet, as Clay himself wrote, “here in Kentucky slavery is in its most mitigated form, still it is slavery.”

So, he wasn’t great, but he usually did his best to be fair. But, he was still clearly a bigot. In a speech he gave in front of the members of the American Colonization Society, he said:

“From their condition, and the unconquerable prejudices resulting from their colour, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, as it respected them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them off. Various schemes of colonization had been thought of, and a part of our continent, it was supposed by some, might furnish a suitable establishment for them. But, for his part, Mr. C. said, he had a decided preference for some part of the Coast of Africa. There ample provision might be made for the colony itself, and it might be rendered instrumental to the introduction into that extensive quarter of the globe, of the arts, civilization, and Christianity.”

“Drain them off.” Ugh. Is there any more that needs to be said?

The last person we’re looking at is James Monroe – not because his sentiments are in any way unique compared to those of the other men we’ve looked at, but because he was President when Liberia was founded, and the capitol city of Liberia, called Monrovia, is named after him.

President Monroe owned hundreds of slaves, and some of the descendants of those slaves still live near Highland, Monroe’s estate. He was very close to Thomas Jefferson, and shared his sentiments that white people and black people could never coexist. Obviously – obviously now, right? – we know they’re wrong. But we don’t have to travel all the way to now to see that. As we’ll look at in more depth next post, there were people who disagreed with Jefferson and Munroe and the founders of the American Colonization Society – both white and black.

The African repository and colonial journal v.1-2 (1825-27)

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The American Colonization Society

Before we can go very far in our in-depth look at the stories printed in The Liberator, we need to talk about the Colonization Society. By 1831, Garrison had become disenchanted with the Colonization Society and regularly attacked it in his paper.

For instance, Garrison reprinted this article in his paper:

(Sorry if it looks wonky on desktop. It looked on fine mobile… But there’s probably an easier way of doing things all-together than what I’m doing…)

I probably didn’t need to copy and paste the whole article, but… I wanted context? Anyway, Garrison replied to it thusly:

Just… Match the numbers to the numbers in the preceding article.

There’s a lot to unpack; but here, at least, is a sample of the arguments people were making back in the day. On a very basic level, Mr. H.Y. was arguing that black people have it real bad in America, so we should send them back to Africa. Then he did all he could to make the small colony of Liberia appealing. Much of it does sound like propaganda, and Garrison was right to say that pretty words signifies nothing.

I could look at history and try to pass judgement on whether The American Colonization Society ultimately did well by settling Liberia or caused more harm than good, but, I mean, now it’s a country. It’s had its ups and downs like any country. I can’t sit here and pass judgment on a whole country. That’s definitely beyond the scope of this blog.

I mean, they’re not looking great right now. They’re still recovering from their second civil war and the amount of people living in poverty there is really depressing. But if Liberia was never founded then I doubt Martha Ann Erskine Ricks would have ever been able to give her quilt to Queen Victoria, so I’m glad she was able to do that.

But this blog is about Garrison. And Garrison didn’t care if Liberia became paradise on earth. He still felt that the motives behind the creation of the American Colonization Society was wrong. Elsewhere Garrison wrote:

The doctrine, that the ‘end sanctifies the means,’ belongs, I trust, exclusively to the creed of the Jesuits. If I were sure that the Society would accomplish the entire regeneration of Africa by its present measures, my detestation of its principles would not abate one jot, nor would I bestow upon it the smallest modicum of praise. Never shall the fruits of the mercy and overruling providence of God,—ever bringing good out of evil, and light out of darkness,—be ascribed to the prejudice or tyranny of man…

I should oppose this Society, even were its doctrines harmless. It imperatively and effectually seals the lips of a vast number of influential and pious men, who, for fear of giving offence to those slaveholders with whom they associate, and thereby leading to a dissolution of the compact, dare not expose the flagrant enormities of the system of slavery, nor denounce the crime of holding human beings in bondage…

It is agreeable to slaveholders, because it is striving to remove a class of persons who they fear may stir up their slaves to rebellion. All who avow undying hostility to the people of color are in favor of it; all who shrink from acknowledging them as brethren and friends, or who make them a distinct and inferior caste, or who deny the possibility of elevating them in the scale of improvement here, most heartily embrace it…

I avow it—the natural tendency of the colony at Liberia excites the most melancholy apprehensions in my mind. Its birth was conceived in blood, and its footsteps will be marked with blood down to old age—the blood of the poor natives —unless a special interposition of Divine Providence prevent such a calamity. The emigrants will be eager in the acquisition of wealth, ease and power; and, having superior skill and discernment in trade, they will outwit and defraud the natives as often as occasion permits. This knavish treatment once detected,—as it surely will be, for even an uncivilized people may soon learn that they have been cheated,—will provoke retaliation, and stir up the worst passions of the human breast. Bloody conflicts will ensue, in which the colonists will be victorious. This success will serve to increase the enmity of the natives, and to perpetuate the murderous struggle, until, by their subjugation, the colonists obtain undisputed possession of the land…

Let the colony continue to receive the aid, and elicit the prayers of the good and benevolent. Still let it remain within the pale of Christian sympathy. Blot it not out of existence. But let it henceforth develop itself naturally. Crowd not its population. Let transportation cease. Seek no longer to exile millions of our colored countrymen. For, assuredly, if the Colonization Society succeed in its efforts to remove thousands of their number annually, it cannot inflict a heavier curse upon Africa, or more speedily accomplish the entire subversion of the colony…

African colonization is directly and irreconcilably opposed to the wishes of our colored population, as a body. Their desires ought to be tenderly regarded. In all my intercourse with them, in various towns and cities, I have never seen one of their number who was friendly to this scheme; and I have not been backward in canvassing their opinions on this subject. They are as unanimously opposed to a removal to Africa, as the Cherokees from the council-fires and graves of their fathers. It is remarkable, too, that they are as united in their respect and esteem for the republic of Hayti. But this is their country—they are resolute against every migratory plot, and willing to rely on the justice of the nation for an ultimate restoration to all their lost rights and privileges.

Selections from the Writings of W. L. Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison
Boston: 1852

Okay, look, the bottom-most link at the bottom of this blog goes to what I’m quoting above. It’s well worth a read.

Because the American Colonization Society’s schemes affected millions of people, one blog post about it seems far too small. I want to continue on and talk about other stories in The Liberator, but I can’t quite yet. I think for my next post I’m going to look at the founders of The American Colonization Society and see what kind of people they were.

Returning to The Liberator

Even with blogging about it, I couldn’t get through Sense & Sensibility. It’s not that it’s bad, and Jane Austen is incredibly witty, but, I can’t. You guys, I just can’t. I’m still bored by it. I like Elinor and Maryanne and their family, but they’re not enough for me to continue reading. And their love interests are terrible. Colonel Brandon is closest in age to Mrs. Dashwood and they are the ones who should end up together at the end of the novel! I’m not changing from that. And Edward! Just, grow a backbone! And freaking tell Elinor what’s going on in your life!

Anyway, can’t finish it. So, I’m moving on to a new project. I’ve definitely had a more long-standing interest in this new project than I do Sense and Sensibility. So, we’ll see how it goes.

A few years ago, I wrote some blog posts about different Abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Prudence Crandall, and others. One of the main sources I used to talk about Abolitionists was Garrison’s newspaper, The Liberator. At the time, I thought it might be a good idea to jut go through the whole newspaper and highlight different stories or articles I came across. I didn’t do that, but I’m coming back to that idea.

My reasons for wanting to do this are thus:

1. To educate. I grew up in the Deep South. I still live in the Deep South. There are people here that think that the Civil War wasn’t somehow the result of slavery even though when you read primary sources about the war – and it doesn’t matter which side wrote the dang letter/article/whatever – the Civil War was CLEARLY caused by slavery.

1b. Tying into that. I knew the name of Frederick Douglass growing up. I had heard about Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. I had read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But I there are many names that I know will be new. I hadn’t known anything about Nat Turner or David Walker until I started researching them for a blog post. I’m sure there’s dozens of other figures out there I’ll be glad to know about and share about.

2. To inspire. Douglass was born into slavery, as were many of the figures we’ll hopefully be looking at. These people did great things and eliminated America’s indifference to and advocacy for slavery.

3. To learn. Yeah, I know. It’s basically the same as educate. But, in my mind with more practical applications. The story of the Abolitionists could, in some places, be the same story as that of the Civil Rights movement, or in Europe’s fight against fascism during WW2. How do we keep fighting for causes we believe in even in the face of immovable opposition? How can we teach others to seek justice for the marginalized? To see ourselves in people we’ve been taught since forever is the Other? What does it look like when we fail to do so?

Until there’s enough people on fire for justice, indifference towards those who go through cruelties that because of our privilege we will never have to endure seems to be human nature. Look at how common a scene that today we would be horrified to see was:

Oh patriotism! Where is thy indignation?

That’s the world that Garrison was born into. Evil was so rampant and commonplace, that, even while in the middle of writing, tales of horrible injustice came knocking at their door.

So, that’s what I want to write about. I don’t know how often I’ll post, but I can tell you that my next post will be about the American Colonization Society. So, stay tuned!

Sense and Sensibility and a Bit of Spice (Ch. 3-8)

Shoot. I thought I had scheduled this for last Friday, but, I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to which date I had selected. I’m sorry to the few people who read my blog. At least this blog post is slightly longer than average?

Chapter 3

  • Edward Ferrars. Fanny’s brother and Elinor’s love interest. He “was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid improvement.”

I very much enjoy how Austen gives us a full picture of her characters. As of yet, however, he has done little in the story. But, even with the little interaction we get between them, I want Edward and Elinor to get together – even if Marianne finds him lacking in passion.

“But it would have broke MY heart, had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility. Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! He must have all Edward’s virtues, and his person and manners must ornament his goodness with every possible charm.”

Chapter 4

Marianne elicits a profession of love from Elinor in regards to Edward.

As a reader, the lack of passion both Elinor and Edward show in regards to each other is a bit boring, even as they read as perfectly compatible to each other. I want them to be perfectly happy together in domestic bliss, but, reading about them is a bit dull. Elinor tries to tell Marianne that Edward is far from boring once you really get to know him, with perfectly suitable tastes in art and music, but, Marianne doesn’t buy it, even as she says she’d be perfectly happy to see her sister and Edward together.

I thought I’d be sympathizing more with Elinor, but in this chapter I can completely see Marianne’s point of view. I understand her wishing for a man with a bit of spice, a bit more excitement about him, even though rationally I’d see someone like Edward as the much better option for a husband. I’m… surprised with myself. But more than anything I just want Elinor to be happy.

Near the end of the chapter their mother receives a letter from one of her relatives offering a cottage for them to live in instead of continuing to live with John and Fanny, who really don’t care for them. Their mother accepts after consulting her daughters.

Chapter 5

They move to Barton Cottage. It’s a very short chapter. Fanny is awful. Edward is sad to see them go.

So, random thought, generally you want to avoid characters that are caricatures. I believe that’s as true 200 years ago as it is today. But Fanny is literally described as a caricature when she’s introduced – and yet she doesn’t read as an unrealistic character. Probably because she’s internally consistent and there actually are people as selfish as her in the real world…

Chapter 6

  • John Middleton. Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin. Genuinely kind.
  • Lady Middleton. John’s wife. Not the best conversationalist. Tends to talk about her kids a lot. Which, for your information, is totally understandable.

“As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles.”

The house is fine, but the countryside is lovely. I love how the Dashwoods make the best of the situation. That’s a good lesson there about being content with the things you can’t change. Sometimes that lesson can be abused by the people who have the ability to change others’ circumstances and don’t, like Fanny, but as a general rule for your own well-being it’s good to choose to be content.

Chapter 7

  • Mrs. Jennings. “Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton’s mother, was a good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar.”

This chapter introduces Mrs. Jennings and gives more characterization for the Middletons.  They’re dull, but good people.

“…For however dissimilar in temper and outward behaviour, they strongly resembled each other in that total want of talent and taste which confined their employments, unconnected with such as society produced, within a very narrow compass. Sir John was a sportsman, Lady Middleton a mother. He hunted and shot, and she humoured her children; and these were their only resources.”

Chapter 8                                        

“It must be so. She was perfectly convinced of it. It would be an excellent match, for HE was rich, and SHE was handsome. Mrs. Jennings had been anxious to see Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her connection with Sir John first brought him to her knowledge; and she was always anxious to get a good husband for every pretty girl.”

I’m sure the age difference of 17 and around about 35 seems negligible to one of a sufficiently advanced age like Mrs. Jennings, but, I am 26 years old. 17 is much too young, whereas 35- I might date someone that old, but, I would definitely be questioning if I should. A nine years difference is nothing to take lightly. It weirds me out sometimes when I consider how old my sister once seemed compared to me, and then thinking about how my boyfriend is three years older than me and a whole two months older than my big sister. That’s only three years! Marianne is right to point out that Colonel Brandon is more her mother’s peer than hers. And, her mother is single. Why isn’t Mrs. Jennings trying to match her and Colonel Brandon together? Why Marianne?

Not everything Marianne says I agree with, though. But also, this just proves my point that Marianne is super young and has absolutely no business ever eventually marrying Colonel Brandon.

“A woman of seven and twenty,” said Marianne, after pausing a moment, “can never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman therefore there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other.”

“It would be impossible, I know,” replied Elinor, “to convince you that a woman of seven and twenty could feel for a man of thirty-five anything near enough to love, to make him a desirable companion to her. But I must object to your dooming Colonel Brandon and his wife to the constant confinement of a sick chamber, merely because he chanced to complain yesterday (a very cold damp day) of a slight rheumatic feel in one of his shoulders.”

I have nothing to add to this passage. I just wanted to highlight the absurdity of Marianne’s notions. She’s a literal child. I don’t care how much or how little growing she does in this book, a child should not marry Colonel Brandon.

Sense and Sensibility and Socio-economics (Ch. 1-2)

Now that I’ve finished Dawn of Wonder, I’m starting a new book. This one is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve actually read it, or just read about it before. Either way I don’t seem to remember enough about it to recall much of anything about the characters.

So, here I am! This time I’m definitely going to remember reading this book!

Anyway, I’m blogging about it because apparently I’ll even finish books that get really boring in the middle if I’m writing about my journey through them. Is it more work than just straight up reading this book? Yes. But, if writing will help me actually read this thing, then, I’m going to do it. Also, since this book was written in 1811, I will not care about spoilers, at all. Nothing is off-limits!

Apparently this Paul Montazzoli who wrote the introduction for the copy I have feels the same way… The only thing I’ll say here is that he finds the ending terribly disappointing. Apparently it’s a bit of a downer. On to the story!

Chapter 1

  • Henry Dashwood. Henry dies when Elinor, his oldest daughter, is 19. He was a good man, but not as well-to-do as he would have preferred for the comfort of his wife and three daughters. This introductory chapter really ends with his death. The book, I presume, starts in earnest next chapter.
  • Mrs. Henry Dashwood. Henry’s second wife after the death of his first. Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret’s mother. Like her daughter Marianne, she- well, the description for Marianne applies to Mrs. Henry too.
  • John Dashwood. Henry’s first child and only son. He was the product of Henry’s first marriage. The estate was bequeathed to him. A gentleman, in the traditional sense, but not one prone to generosity or to consider the needs of others if they’re not pointed out to him.
  • Mrs. John Dashwood (Fanny). Described as “A strong caricature of [John Dashwood]; – more narrow-minded and selfish.”
  • Elinor Dashwood. The oldest. She “Possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother.”
  • Marianne Dashwood. “She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent.”
  • Margaret Dashwood. “A good-humoured well-disposed; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne’s romance, without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of her life.”

The first chapter is more an introduction to the characters and their living situation. The sisters’ living situation isn’t great, but it’s comfortable. The worse is that they’re basically dependent on their half-brother, who feels a sense to carry out his obligations, but has no strong feelings for them personally. That’s basically where they are.

Unlike Dawn of Wonder, which according to my count had 92 named characters (many of whom basically just had NPC status (Why give them a name if they weren’t important, Renshaw!?)), SparkNotes, at least, lists 20 characters for this 356 page book. So I’m not going to keep count as I did with that book. Hopefully I won’t ever have to look up who someone is or if they’ve been mentioned before. I’m honestly really excited to get to know these characters.

Chapter 2

This chapter is a conversation between John Dashwood and his wife, Fanny, discussing the details of how they should fulfill John’s promise to provide for his sisters and step-mother. It’s very clever writing, how they both talk down the amount they’re willing to give to their relatives.

To me, the most absurd thing Fanny says – and it is supposed to read as satire – is this:

“Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that?—They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of any kind! Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a year! I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it.”

So, what this puts me in mind of, is avocado toast. In 2017 during an interview for 60 Minutes, Tim Gurner said, “When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each.” This resulted in a cavalcade of memes comparing the prices of houses to avocado toast (if you – yes, you specifically – just stop buying thousands upon thousands of avocados, you too could afford your own house!) Pretty funny stuff for a poor millennial.

The point I’m trying to get at is this notion the rich seem to have that the poor should be grateful for merely having the barest subsistence to survive, instead of recognizing that the majority should have the ability to indulge in little pleasures – especially if you want a robust economy where people are actually able to buy things. But even on a moral level people like Fanny never think of how much they’d hate it if their situations were reversed. If she were to “keep no company, and have no expenses of any kind.”

Is that the angle I’m going for in this read-through? A critique of socio-economics?

I have no idea. But one more thing I’d like to point out is John and Fanny’s total dependence on their inheritances for acquiring money. Why is that? Is John unable to work? Not that there’s anything wrong with it if that’s the case, but, it’d be nice if that were made explicit. Seriously though, why is no one working? And how can I get in on this whole having a whole estate without having to worry about paying for any of it thing John and Fanny have going on? Pure luck, that’s what it is. Pure chance. Smh.

Book Review: Dawn of Wonder: The Wakening by Jonathan Renshaw (Pt 13) END

Chapter 61

  1. King Renka. King of Vinterus.
  2. Princess Irrinel. Of Vinterus. Does more of the ruling than her father does.
  3. Sorn. Member of the academy high council.
  4. Edreas. Member of the academy high council.
  5. Brenton. The stabler. The person who is in charge of the stables.

It kind of feels like these next few chapters are here just to set stuff up for the next book. Aedan overhears some foreign people talk when he’s in the stables. They’re talking in a foreign language, so Aedan goes to Fergal to translate some of the words he wasn’t sure about. He learns about the foreigners, and how they’re potentially bad news for the kingdom.

Later he visits Osric and learns more about earthstars. They’re so rare and valuable that kingdoms will go to war over them at a drop of a hat, and Thirna’s found a whole lot. So that’s why Fenn and maybe Vinterus are being the way they are.

Because of the threat of hostile foreign kingdoms, a lot of soldiers had gone off to other areas of the kingdom, leaving the streets unprotected. So the hooligans (my word) are out causing trouble. They’re out their killing folks and taking their money. Osric has a good line.

“The irony of war,” he said. “It has always been this way. We are taught to think that the battle lines separate the good from the bad, but the truth, as you are beginning to understand, is less comfortable.”

Then he talks about the Fenn a bit more.

Later, Aedan is talking to Lorrimer, and he asks Lorrimer if he thinks that anger is wrong. It’s a pretty good conversation. They decide it depends on how you use it. Not for revenge, but-

“One of my uncles used to come over when he was drunk and play this game where he would jab his knife into the table between my fingers. I could see my father was scared, but he didn’t want to argue with his brother-in-law, so instead he just laughed – that thin, false kind of laugh. When he hugged me afterwards I hated it. it was like he was lying. I used to think that if cared anything he would have got angry. If you care about people and you really love them, you should get angry at the things that put them in danger or hurt them.”

Lorrimer says that. It was a difficult secret for him to say. Aedan confesses that his father used to beat him and his mother. He says that sometimes he hid when someone else got beat and he thinks “the shame hurts more than the bruises would have.”

The chapter ends with Aedan running to Dun with an idea with what to do about the hooligans.

Predictions: I guess I could start making predictions for the next book here, but I think I’ll just use this space to give my thoughts.

In some ways, I like this short conversation Aedan has with Lorrimer over all the other conversations Aedan has had with Fergal or Osric. I think because it’s not just some character imparting Wisdom on our little protagonist, but a conversation between equal friends. Not that those conversations weren’t good and necessary, but I feel like this conversation between Lorrimer and Aedan shows Aedan’s growth in a way that you just can’t see in conversations between the mentor/student relationship that Aedan has with Fergal and Osric. And seeing him open up to his friends – especially since we haven’t been able to delve deep into their characters – is incredibly cathartic. Just, finally.

Chapter 62

In the beginning of the chapter Aedan is going around the city with his friends and other soldiers – including Cameron the guard that Aedan met when he first arrived to Castath – dressing up as women and other easy-looking victims so the hooligans will try to attack them, then they’d take the hooligans down instead. It’s very effective. Some of the strategies Aedan uses are callbacks to things that happened during the boring school part of this book.

While they’re doing that, Aedan runs into his father’s gang. They follow Aedan.

Chapter 63

Clauman confronts Aedan. His first words are, “I have tried very hard not to despise you, but you are determined to earn my hatred.”

Like, okay. Whatever dude. Basic villain line, that.

Clauman tells Aedan that he’s going to provide information to Clauman about soldier’s schedules and whatever other information that might be useful to Clauman. Aedan freezes like every other time he’s faced his father’s anger. but this time he says “No.” His father beats him, and after he’s done he asks Aedan again if he understands his assignment.

Aedan understood. The message was sharp and clear. But another message began to rumble in his mind. It was the message he had understood as that colossal voice had spoken his name the second time. It was a message so pure with its kindness, and so terrifying with its power, that the lies had crawled out from their hidings and melted before it.

Aedan stands again, and one of Cluman’s men attack him. Aedan’s reflexes from all those grueling chapters of schooling take over and he knocks the guy down. Clauman asks why Aedan didn’t attack him, and it turns into an argument. I’ll try to summarize.

Aedan tells Clauman he forgives him. Clauman doesn’t understand. He’s super insecure whenever he feels left out of anything, like Nessa teaching Aedan different languages, or Aedan hanging out at Kalry’s place instead of at home. So that makes him angry and act out. Brilliant, dude.

Aedan’s tries to be like, but how does that explain you never coming back home that time we moved to Castath and you were gone for days, but Clauman realizes that there are still people around, so he gets all hard again and leaves.

Predictions: I feel like Renshaw is going to try to redeem Clauman in a later book and this chapter was trying to set Clauman up as redeemable, but, I don’t think he completely succeeds. His last line is all like, “No son of mine would ever question me so you can’t be my son!” [paraphrase] And, like, this dude needed therapy like, 20 years ago. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been too prideful to just freaking talk to people about my insecurities, and especially in recent years I’ve seen a lot less stigma in going to therapy, but his whole attitude is so unnecessary.

How did he and Nessa end up together when he never wants to talk about freaking anything? What is this man-child doing? Literally, the only reason you’re not with your family right now is through your own dumb actions. How did you get to be this way, Clauman? This toxicity is killing me…

Chapter 64

Aedan tells Osric, Tyne, and Merter about his run-in with his father. Tyne chalks up Clauman’s violence to an overabundance of pride and says that pride is terrible, but wonders if there’s hope for him. Aedan hopes so.

Oh, honey no. There’s no hope. Just accept Osric as your new father. He’s the one that got you a horse, remember? Did Clauman ever get you a horse? No? Then there you go, Osric’s your daddy.

During the night Aedan wakes up and has like this really strong urge to read the Lekran book. He fights it, but eventually Aedan finally reads the Lekran book! He finds out that before the noble girl is sacrificed she has to reach the age of maturity, which is 18 years. So Kalry is still alive and they have like over a year to go rescue her. Ha! Called it! Knew she was alive!

Chapter 65

Aedan is super excited, but Fergal tells him that before he can go to Lekrau to go rescue he has to be able to pass himself off as a local Lekrau. So Aedan gets to work on learning Lekrau. Like, he has zero hesitation in doing everything he can to save Kalry, even though he hated learning anything about Lekrau throughout the whole book. It’s pretty effective in showing how much Aedan cares for Kalry.

Chapter 66

Aedan gets the idea to include Liru, Peasot, and Hadley in the Lekrau trip. Aedan doesn’t want Lorrimer to come because he’s too tall (he’ll stand out), and Vayle is too lazy. Liru, Peashot, and Hadley are going to pretend to be slaves. He tells them about his plans on top of a wall outside.

The others leave, and Aedan takes out Kalry’s journal. He reads a few entries, then he starts to climb down the ladder. But halfway down he decides to jump because of the glow-y powerfulness he’s been feeling ever since he met God. And then he more or less floats down? He doesn’t get hurt even though he should have from the height he jumped.

He goes to study some more.

The End.

That’s it that’s the book.

I am excited for the next book. Just the fact that so much time won’t be spent on Aedan just learning skills will make the next book much better than this one. This book was longer than it needed to be, and the focus was on the things I, personally, didn’t care that much about. My (completely unsolicited advice) to Renshaw is to work on showing the characteristics of his different characters instead of just saying what they are. They felt very much like Dungeons and Dragons characters in that they had these traits that sounded good on paper, but, he needed to play with them a bit more. They weren’t properly implemented into the story. Well, Aedan was fine, but, especially Aedan’s roommates were criminally underused in the plot. They didn’t have their own character arcs. Heck, I can’t even tell you why any of them chose to be a marshal instead of a soldier! It’s never said!

That being said, the world building was great. It’s definitely one of Renshaw’s strengths. My biggest wish would be for more talk of the mythology of the region. The Ancient exists, but why are there so few records of The Ancient? Are there stories of The Ancient appearing to other people? Also, religion. Do people regularly worship The Ancient, or do they have their own gods? Are there any gods that they used to worship but don’t anymore? It’d be cool to see more of what kind of holidays they have too. I know that’s a lot to think about when you just want to get the story down, but it would be playing to Renshaw’s strengths, and it would be a good way to encapsulate the values his fantasy culture has.

More of my unsolicited advice would be to remember that the internal struggle of your characters is just as important as the external struggle that they’re facing – and that’s true for more than just the main character.

Make sure your villains are internally consistent. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to write a scene from their point of view – for your sake, as a writer, if nothing else. I can’t decide if Clauman reaches that level of internal consistency. It would be nice to see from his point of view how he and Nessa got together because I am still so lost on that.

But, yeah, my last words? I expect the second book to be much better than the first. That’s my final prediction.

Book Review: Dawn of Wonder: The Wakening by Jonathan Renshaw (Pt 12)

Chapter 57

While Liru is gone, Aedan wakes up. The snake is there and its focus is on Aedan. Aedan readies to attack, but he pauses. The snake looks intelligent – the same as the fox. Aedan thinks the snake is looking at him like a child would, with innocence and full of wonder. Then they hear people coming up the stairs and the snake leaves. Aedan faints.

When he wakes up again he’s at camp. Liru, Osric, Tyne, Fergal, Captain Senbert, and Holt are there too. Tyne killed the rest of the soldiers that were with Rork when they tried to attack Osric. They catch Aedan up on how they’re all heading back to Castath and, well, Tyne killing soldiers. Aedan focuses on recovering his strength.

Merter shows up one night. My new favorite character didn’t die!

“After that cage dropped away – Oh, and thank you Tyne for getting me out, else I’d be done – I fell in stages until the structure jammed just long enough for me to catch onto the wall…”

Merter didn’t want to catch the creature’s attention so he didn’t yell. Then he spent a long time climbing up and out.

They mourn the dead. The focus is on Thormar and Culver. Raise your hands if you felt something at either of these two deaths!

…I don’t see any hands.

Granted, I don’t see any people in front of me as I type away at this computer screen, but, even if I were seeing any of the people who read my blog, I don’t think I’d see any hands.

Like, if you’re going to kill people in your novel, maybe try to pull at our heartstrings a little bit? Out of the team of people that went on this adventure to Kultûhm, only Aedan and Liru I can say we’ve seen consistently in this book. Osric’s been mentioned a few times, but I wish we had seen more of him in the middle of the book – like, actually seen him. Not just hearing about how he got Aedan a horse.

And, yeah, we saw Culver nearer the beginning of the book. But we basically just saw him. I was never invested in him.

And then there’s Thormar. That one scene with Aedan was nice, but… I think what really annoys me is that, okay I still have about 75 pages to go in this book, but I’m pretty sure this whole adventure at Kultûhm and meeting God was the climax of the book. Chapter 51 is when they first go into Kultûhm, and that chapter starts on page 551 – roughly 75 pages ago. If there is another, even more climax-like climax of this book, I’ll eat everything I’m saying right now, but it feels like Renshaw just introduced a whole bunch of characters for the climax of the book (Tyne, Thormar, Merter, Rork, Fergal (debatably)) and expected us to care about them as if they were as established as Nessa or Peashot. But, maybe my complaints are pointless and there really is a greater climax. No point in continuing to talk about it, I guess…

Chapter 58

Fergal explains things. Apparently the freaky black smoke monster is really… a yellow-eyed mole viper. It got struck by lightning from the storm and grew to great size and developed a greater intelligence. All the other giant creatures in the museum were also animals that had been struck by lightning. They remark that Aedan had been struck with the same lightning but seems to remain unchanged. But Aedan knows better.

Aedan knew this was not true. Though he hadn’t grown any bigger, something else was different – he could still feel the heat in his chest and a curious tingling in his fingers and occasionally his toes; it also felt at times as if his hand and feet were surrounded by water rather than air. But he was reluctant to talk about it. After Mistress Gilda’s exhibition of his scar, he had no desire to be scrutinized again as an object of interest.


Oh, it’s decided that the pearlnut  tree in Aedan’s home town is a descendant of a tree that was struck by lightning. They wonder if any animals had reproduced too. The ship Aedan once found underneath the school had a weird thing that looked like it was made to ram other boats, but they decide it must actually be a trap for giant sea monsters.

Chapter 59

They get back to Castath. They have a meeting with Prince Burkhart and Ganavant about everything they had seen. Prince Burkhart plans to kill everyone after their report is done, but Osric had sent a courier to the king telling him all about the adventure they were about go on and the whole public already knows that their party made it safely back to the city so if everyone was killed now it would look reflect really badly on the prince. Inquiries would have to made and the prince doesn’t want that.

Yeah, okay, I admit it took me a while to figure this out, but there’s a palace in Castath for the prince and whatever other royalty is around and there’s a castle in Tullenroe, the big city, for the king. Got it.

Chapter 60

Aedan sees his friends again. Peashot has a crush on Liru. Ilona and everyone else is the same.

Aedan searches for the red book that he saw in that vision. He can’t find it. he asks Fergal for help. Fergal’s got it and gives it to Aedan. Aedan’s excited about reading it until he realizes that the book is Lekrau. Then he doesn’t want to read it.

Aedan has a run-in with Iver the bully. He wants Aedan to get him wine for his party. But Aedan is braver now so he puts horse urine in the alcohol and tells all of his friends what he did. They all watch Iver and his friends drink the urine. Iver confronts Aedan the next day, but all of Aedan’s friends are there who witnessed Iver’s illegal party, so Iver backs off. There’s cheering.

Book Review: Dawn of Wonder: The Wakening by Jonathan Renshaw (Pt 11)

Chapter 53

“a yellow eye as big as a shield appeared through a narrow break in the fog. The ink-black pupil flicked around the room, showing a precision that took in every occupant. That enormous eye, full of deep cunning, reduced a warrior to a mouse, nothing more.”

Y’all, this thing is awesome! – even though it kills Culver. Yep, named character is down! I really thought that was why the unnamed soldiers were there – to give a sense of mortal danger without actually killing anyone important. But, I guess with last chapter’s revelation that Culver was merely an assistant to Fergal, he wasn’t really an important character either. Oh, yeah. This thing kills a nameless soldier too.

Osric hits the creature’s eye with an axe when it goes after Tyne. The creature retreats, but Osric is injured. Nothing a rest at an inn shouldn’t be able to heal, but the others have to drag him as they make their escape back down the stairs.

They find a hidden elevator. Aedan, Liru, Tyne, Fergal, Osric, Merter, and three unnamed soldiers go down into mysterious depths. Even Fergal knows nothing about the place the elevator sends them to.

“Fergal looked around at the hulking shapes of unfinished stone machines, the tools, the aged bones, the channels of dark water, and the great pillars of rock that stood around them like the legs of titans and reached far up to a roof only betrayed by faint, jagged contours.”

There’s other descriptive paragraphs, but I feel like this gives the best general overview of what they’re seeing.

Aedan and Liru talk about how cute Tyne and Osric are together. *Sigh*

At the end of the chapter they realize that where they are is the lair of the creature.

Predictions: All of the soldiers will die. Out of the named characters… I definitely can’t see Aedan or Liru dying. I feel like Tyne and Osric are being shipped too strongly by Aedan and Liru for either of them to die, Fergal seems too important, so I guess that leaves Merter? If a named character dies, that is, but I’m really betting on it just being the three soldiers who kick the bucket.

Chapter 54

They’re running. They’re walking. They’re cha cha sliding out of that lair as fast as they can! Well, two out of three. The soldiers start complaining.

“It’s time we took charge here,” the soldier announced, reaching for his sword. But Merter slipped across like a shadow and had his knife at the man’s throat before the sword was halfway drawn.

Aedan stared. He had never seen anyone move that fast.

“Want to play?” Merter growled.

The soldiers back down and Merter takes the soldiers’ weapons. I like Merter. I’ve decided he’s my favorite character.

They come across a wooden tower with a stone at the top called the earthstar that glows in the dark. One of the soldiers go after it. He’s dead. Well, okay. Not quite yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Yep. The smoke monster is back. It’s really cool and really huge. The soldier dies. Fergal realizes a cage that’s in the room is actually an elevator. They go up, but the monster attacks them by hitting the bottom of the cage. The chains/cables of the elevator breaks. Everyone makes it except for Merter. He falls with the elevator. It’s because I said he was my favorite character, isn’t it?

The group splits. Aedan and Liru run ahead. The hope is that at least these two – the two youngest – will survive to live another day. They get far into the city, but run into more awful soldiers.

Predictions: Look, I’m really summarizing a lot in this chapter. These action scenes are great and intense, and you do easily get sucked into them while you’re reading, but I don’t want to quote the whole book. I know just summarizing how all the action scenes end really takes all the punch out of them, so, read the book? Sorry, that wasn’t a prediction. Umm… Liru and Aedan will survive this day.

Chapter 55

Commander Thormar is dead. Is that why he couldn’t fuse with Commander Dun? Because Rork and his men kill him? Oh yeah,  Rork’s back. He chases Aedan and Liru, trying to kill them. Aedan and Liru run up stairs in the interior of one of the giant statues. They stop when they get to the top of the head. Then they see the storm coming. It stops right above them. It’s pretty cool.

Chapter 56

Aedan gets struck by lightning and meets God.

This is, from all I’ve read, the penultimate chapter in the novel. Aedan meets God. No really, that just happened. God goes by the Ancient, though, but, yeah.

Then it was as if a shroud made of stars was dropped. At first he could see nothing but the brilliance of pure, solid light pouring down around him. When his vision cleared a little, he found himself before a great throne. It was not just a chair – it was more like a mountain before which even the heights of DinEilan would have been dwarfed. The upper reaches rose among the stars, lost to his eyes.

The throne’s filled with light, and Aedan feels completely unworthy to be in the light. Then Aedan has a cauldron and it’s really gross inside. The Ancient tells Aedan to kneel, but Aedan can’t do that unless he lets go of the cauldron. Aedan has an internal battle on whether he should. He tries to let go, but he can’t. He asks the Ancient to help him.

There was a surge of power, just the faintest tingling in his arms. He looked down and pulled again, and this time, it tore partly away from his skin. The pain was intense, and as the raw skin was exposed, he felt a sudden vulnerability, for the cauldron had been a kind of shield. But from the river that was rushing around him, he drew courage and wrenched again. The cauldron ripped free, and once he had torn it loose, he flung it down on the ground where the noxious liquid poured out and was washed away.

After that happened, Aedan feels free to forgive his father, then the Ancient gives him a vision of a red book with “a lizard curled twice around itself.” Then Aedan’s back on the top of the statue tower.

Rork’s still there, but now Aedan has the courage to stand up to him. He and Liru manage to defeat him. Rork falls off the edge of the statue and dies. Liru goes to get help and tells Aedan to stay put. Then Aedan loses consciousness. End scene.

Predictions: I guess God’s going to be a reoccurring character now. I do like it. It’s bold to put an all-powerful character in your book. So kudos to Renshaw for going there. And honestly if he doesn’t fully pull it off I am not holding it against him. I wonder, though, how often God appears to people in this world like this; if there’s even any legends of other people seeing God like this. Maybe that giant ancestor of Osric’s?

Book Review: Dawn of Wonder: The Wakening by Jonathan Renshaw (Pt 10)

Chapter 50

They make it to DinEilan. But before they do, Aedan tells Liru that he thinks Osric and Tyne “Make good dancing partners.” No! Aedan, what are you doing!? That’s your mother’s future husband you’re talking about! You barely even know this newcomer! Why are you trying to ship Tyne and Osric? This child…

Thormar is also form the north. Aedan and him bond. Thormar gives Aedan his pipe and tells Aedan to aim for peace with all his actions – paraphrased, but, general idea.

Oh, oh later there’s a scene where Aedan is bonding with Tyne and he thinks:

“She reminded him strangely of his mother. Under the warlike ways, she was just as soft, just as loving, and just as much in need of love.”

So, don’t you think your loyalty should be to your mother in helping her find someone good? Just saying, Aedan. You know you’d like Osric as a step-father. *nudge nudge*

They’re about to enter Kultûhm, but first they need to worry about the wolves.

Chapter 51

They find a secret passageway into Kultûhm that doesn’t involve going through the front gate. There’s statues all across the fields around Kultûhm. Some are really freaking massive – like, think Iron Giant level, I guess, or larger. They move the arms on some of the statues and a secret entrance opens. They enter it quickly because of the wolves and it closes behind them.

They explore. There’s a lot of exploring. It’s pretty fun, actually. Going through here would be super fun in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. There’s signs that a bunch of people left in a hurry so there’s tons of random items littering the ground. I tend to have roguish tendencies in D&D, so show me something good!

Going through the courtyard Aedan comes across a crown. Ooh! Perfect! In the middle of the crown was a stone that “glowed so richly it was as if it had a light of its own – a brilliant fiery radiance that became smoky and bronzed towards the edges.” Nice!

Aedan thinks so to, but Fergal tells him that all of the loot they get by rights belong to the prince. Aedan has this whole attitude of, well, what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. Besides, the prince was pretty rude to Aedan, making him go on this one-way death mission and everything. But Liru comes along and tells Aedan that if he starts lying then he’ll become like the prince, and Aedan doesn’t like that, so he leaves the crown. Which, I guess is the right move since it’s probably like cursed or something, but… I’d probably still take it and like throw it at my enemies or something.

There’s more exploring.

At the end of the chapter they come across a door that’s been sealed. Osric uses a statue to ram it open.

Chapter 52

It turns out Culver is actually Fergal’s assistant – not the other way around. Why the ruse?

“ ‘…He takes the recognition and, along with it, all the attendant administration and formal duties. That way I can devote myself to the business of knowledge. A far better arrangement. If you speak of it you will find yourselves chained to re-shelving trollies in some forgotten library for the remainder of your days.’

Aedan doubted the threat was sincere – no one would believe them even if they did speak of it – but decided, nevertheless, to heed the warning.”

Okay, sure. Again, maybe it’s just me, but neither of these people have been in the story enough for me to care who has which job. Yeah, some of the best talks Aedan has had with people in this book has been with Fergal, but I guess I just don’t understand in a narrative sense why this whole ruse subplot was included. Really the dialogue we see between them make them out to see each other as basically equals anyway – or at least people who mutually respect each other. I guess there’s supposed to be a lesson in there for Aedan about not underestimating people? I mean, if that’s the case, then okay…

There’s a huge painting of that weird storm that called Aedan’s name. Aedan’s staring in awe when he notices part of the painting is different. He finds a secret mechanism that opens a hidden door. The door leads to stairs leading downwards. They come to a bunch of cavernous rooms with giant stuffed animals all displayed as if they were part of a museum. They’re super duper old and falling apart. Aedan thinks they’re fake until he sees the bone and sinew in a decayed hedgehog the size of a sheep. Again, Renshaw’s strength is descriptions. Like,

“Aedan rose slowly from his crouch. Part of him remained convinced that this beast was as alive as he was. He stalked around to the side and relaxed a little now that he was no longer under those jaws. This animal was well preserved. It had the features and lines of a fox, but the monster that stood in front of him could not have been called by that name. a more careful inspection showed him that the proportions were different – the chest deeper, shoulders wider, jaws heavier and eyes narrower. It was an enormously powerful creature.

It was not just intelligence though. Something else lurked in that expression, even though the features were lifeless and the eyes had been replaced with translucent stones. It wasn’t the first time he had seen it in this museum. Could it be… intelligence?”

I can tell that Renshaw had a lot of fun coming up with all these things that Aedan runs into. I know that feeling.

Anyway, then they run into a giant snake – and it’s alive. They race back up the stairs they had come from and run into traitorous soldier people. But then that freaky smoky shadow thing that Aedan ran into last time he was in Kultûhm shows up. Just to reiterate, this isn’t the same creature as the giant snake they were running away from a moment ago.

“The dust concealed whatever it was that now filled the opening. Before the air cleared, there was a scream and an explosive hiss. A jet of dark, sticky vapor swelled into a black cloud, foul as carrion, flooding the room with night.”

Predictions: Ooh! Action! Just like the Lakeside Terror scenes! Yes, and even more action will happen! So much action!