The River of Corn by John Rose Putnam

riverofcorn

In the year fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  Much is made of that historic voyage, a tremendous achievement no doubt, but with some unexpected consequences both for the crews of the ships and most especially for the inhabitants of the lands they came to.  The River of Corn is a story of Hernando De Soto arriving in what is now the Saluda River region of South Carolina in 1540 and his search for gold.  The author has the Conquistadors confronting the indigenous peoples of the area (Chicora, Ocute and Chalaque) in typical European fashion; taking what they want with impunity and violence.  Besides the antagonistic Spaniards, the story revolves around a black slave, a young Chicora warrior and a wise Chicora queen and their attempts to thwart not only the invaders from across the Great Water but also their enemies the Chalaque.  Without giving away too much of the plot, the story tells of their ingenuity in the face of great danger and the unknowable consequences of their contact with Soto and his men.  The descriptive power of the author is to be admired as he paints an Edenistic portrait of the land and wildlife that existed in fertile and plenteous abundance before the arrival of the European seekers of riches.  Indeed, this is a wonderful tale of what life was like in 16th century southeast America and while it is fiction, it has the ring of possible truth.  5 stars and a hearty Hoover Book Review recommendation.

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