Sentenced to a life of misery in the Scottish coal mines, twenty-one-year-old Mack McAsh hungers for escape. His only ally: beautiful high-born Lizzie Hallim, who is trapped in her own kind of hell.
In 1766, from the teeming streets of London to the infernal hold of a slave ship headed for the American colonies to a sprawling Virginia plantation, two restless young people, separated by politics and position, are bound by their search for a place called freedom....
With action that spans two countries on opposite sides of the Atlantic, making a credible audio version of this epic tale is no small feat. Victor Garber, the talented actor of stage and screen (Sleepless in Seattle
, I'll Fly Away
, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd
), does an admirable job. Garber presents the narrative passages in a clear, confident tone and uses his extensive acting experience to create believable voices for the many diverse characters. Follett has thrown in a confusing array of regional accents and disguised characters, but the range of Garber's voice helps keep things straight while heightening the considerable action and communicating the powerful emotions expressed by the very large cast that gives this drama its grand sweep.
This intriguing novel hinges on the courageous struggles of the hero, an indentured coal miner who declares, "I'll go anywhere that is not Scotland--anywhere a man can be free." Getting anywhere else is easier said than done, especially when he's caught up in an entanglement of familial responsibility, forbidden love, official deceit, trickery, and violence. Even though there are plenty of breathless moments when proper ladies are tempted by bare-chested hunks, this is much more than just another adventure-filled love story. It's also an intriguing journey into the social and political realities of the late 18th century, when the rising influence of the American colonies was first taking hold and the shining glory of the British Empire had begun its long, slow fade. (Running time: four hours, four cassettes) --George Laney