Human bondage connects the lives of people on three continents in this sprawling saga of trans-Atlantic enslavement.
Ackroyd’s historical novel examines slavery in 1800 from the perspectives of dozens of perpetrators and victims. One plotline involves wealthy Scottish financiers of the slavery trade, including Aaron Migu, a businessman who outfits the schooner The Spirit of the Clyde; Stanley Staymann, a young nobleman with fantasies of owning enslaved people in America; and guilt-stricken George McCallum, who uses profits from selling human beings to support an abolitionist writer. A second thread follows inhabitants of Banyan Village on the West African coast, including 5-year-old Abebi; her mother, Efia; and her father, Thimba, a superlative hunter and closeted gay man. Europe and Africa collide on the Louisiana plantation of “the chevalier,” an aging patriarch who prefers André, his enslaved son by a concubine, to his other son and heir, Jacques; the latter conspires with his mother to poison the chevalier and humble André. The three narrative threads come together when the Banyan villagers are kidnapped and shipped on the Spirit to New Orleans for auction just as Stanley arrives to take control of the chevalier’s plantation. Ackroyd’s panorama steeps readers in dense, colorful historical detail. There are a few anachronistic notions, though, as when an ethnomusicologist solicits “slave input on how to decorate the chapel using African motifs and crafts within a Christian framework.” The author pens gripping scenes of the horrors of the Middle Passage and the plantation’s cane fields, but her focus is also sociological, addressing Scotland’s class hierarchy as it confronts newfangled ideas about human rights; the intricacies of West African religion; and queasy contradictions of plantation society. Ackroyd’s prose sometimes feels didactic (“He now understands the word libertarianism….It means ‘rejecting institutional authority and replacing it with trust in individual judgment’ ”), but she often achieves lyricism that illuminates characters’ lives: “The hunters, knowing life is mere clothing for a spirit that never dies, give thanks to Gran Legbwa in a wild dance and song.”
An engrossing re-creation of the world of slavery, rich in social detail and psychological nuance.
Told through multiple persons of voice and from three different locations, Slaves, Masters, and Traders by H. Ann Ackroyd is a historical fiction that explores the subject of slavery. It is set in the backdrop of 1800 AD and through the power of words the author presents us the experiences, culture and life of Africans prior to enslavement in their homeland West Africa and in Louisiana after enslavement.
The narrative is moving and pivotal. The author not only has thoroughly researched on the topic but also has an immense knowledge and understanding of it which reflects in her writing. 1800 AD is the darkest era of history but we still fail to gauge the extent of the harsh conditions Africans had to go through. And this is where Slaves, Masters, and Traders sets itself apart. It provides an accurate representation and builds a story around it. It does not tamper with the representation to fit a narrative.
The story is told through slaves, masters and slave traders and that made my journey as a reader more enriching and raw. The characters are crafted in a detailed manner and the descriptions of the setting are vivid. The author has a very lucid style of writing which makes it an easy read.
With the issue to racism brought to the forefront in the current times, I’ll recommend everyone to give it a read. This book completely consumed me emotionally and is an experience in itself. It is going to stay with me forever.
Here are some of the perfect five starred reviews from Amazon readers:
Back in the days of colonialism, so many unimaginable activities took place, one of them being the slave trade. So unfortunate, most of us do not have an idea of the real encounters and experiences that those involved in the slave trade has to pass through. About a month ago, I received several recommended books from amazon, and with the adorable cover of “Slaves, Masters, and Traders: Historical Fiction,” I decided to try it out. With the relevance of its summary, I knew this was a must-read, so I was ready to set my other books aside and dive in. After reading the first section, I felt so much absorbed into the book and wanted to keep reading more and more; I couldn’t put it down! I loved it. Books like this are definitely my cup of tea from now on.
The author does an impressive work by bringing closer and clearer the history of the slave trade since the 18th century. The story is given from different points of view by diverse people. To make it much reliable and broader. This aspect makes the historical fiction book highly detailed with specific life experiences of the slave trade activities. I found the novel a pretty moving, stunning, and inspirational part of what I highly expected from the topic. Writing a historical fiction novel is not a walk in the park, but H. Ann Ackroyd did it with a finesse that only a talented author like herself possibly could. Readers are profoundly engaged with realistic conversations and an exceedingly impressive flow of the story, not forgetting the impeccable and easy to understand grammar. I highly recommend It to everyone who loves historical fiction and a good story!
Throughout the chapters of the book, we explore different realities of the world in 1800.
We wander from Louisiana, to Liverpool, from Liverpool to Aberdeen shire, Edinburgh, the west coast of Africa and other parts of the globe. The author takes us to a very vivid and raw journey. Describing the context of each character. Respectively exploring a very different panorama but with slavery as a common issue in all of them, some of them victims and others perpetuating it.
The book is a full rounded story; I particularly enjoyed the character development and the individual stories of each character, which are as beautiful as diverse. With very human struggles like accepting one’s sexuality and dealing with it, loss, love, injustice, relationships, helplessness and problems intimately related to the context, where slavery was allowed and the world had even more equality issues than nowadays.
The storytelling is strong enough to get the reader immerse into that world and enraged when terrible things happen to the characters or thrilled and happy with some moments of the story: like Abebi exploring nature or spending time with her mother or even some of the passages related to the life in the village.
It is definitely a story worth reading; even if it is fiction, it is contextualized and narrated in such manner that definitely peeks the attention of the reader towards the events that occurred at that time.
‘Slaves, Masters and Traders’ is an interesting book that presents details about the dreadful era of slave trade. The author of this book, H. Ann Ackroyd has utilized a different approach that not only shows the negativity and bad vibes experienced during the slave trade era, but also other perspectives on the topic.
Undeniably, most readers have had a glimpse of information on slave trade from popular shows, history classes and literature among other sources. However, Ackroyd’ s approach in this book provides detailed background information incorporated with elaborate explanations on different scenarios concerning slave trade. From the black slave family and their masters in Louisiana, to the capture of a black tribal family in West Africa and the different perspective on slave trade in Britain, this book is satisfying for readers. It is highly recommended for individuals with a deep quest for critical events that took place in history.
Wondered how life was back in the 1800s? then this is a book that will share with you one of the darkest eras of history, the nicest thing about this book is that it is based on the viewpoint of slaves, masters and traders which is helpful in knowing the situation of those times better, if the author shared only the viewpoint of slaves or masters or even traders then it wouldn’t have been fair for the story.
The author shares the locations at the beginning of chapters which make the book easy to follow, even though it is a fiction but at some places, it can make readers feel sympathetic to the characters and at other places can even make readers feel happy for the characters.
“Slaves, Masters and Traders” is a book you will become emotionally invested in. The book circulates around slavery in the 1800s and is told from three differing viewpoints that of the slaves, masters and traders. The author provides detailed backgrounds formulating well-developed characters. By intertwining various viewpoints, “Slaves, Masters and Traders” offers a unique vantage point to one of history’s darkest eras. H. Ann Ackroyde style of writing is straight forward and easy to understand. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to a deeper look into the harsh and brutal conditions of the slave trade and to better understand the permanent scar slavery has left on the world.
“Slaves, Masters and Traders: Historical fiction” is a unique book with the fascinating and eye-catchy title. I always have an interest in reading books which discuss the history. You know! I have a dream to go back to the past, and these type of books always helped me—what a realistic work. H. Ann Ackroyd did such a creative and fantastic job.
The book discussed the idea of slavery in 1800 AD. After reading, I can well visualize the different points of view of slavery of unlike people. Let me tell you this book will give you goose booms and tears. I will recommend you if you have an interest in history and you want to explore it.
Quoted from The Moving Words:
Sheridan, Wyoming, January 4, 2021 — It is with great pleasure to announce the grand winner of The Moving Words 2021 Award… From among the 16 entries, our three professional reviewer judges have unanimously voted for Slaves, Masters, and Traders by H. Ann Ackroyd as THE MOST MOVING BOOK.
Mike Ramos, General Manager of The Moving Words, said, “All the books we have reviewed have the moving contents in the sense that readers are galvanized to take action. However, Slaves, Masters, and Traders by H. Ann Ackroyd stands out from the rest. Vividly written as if you’re watching a movie, you might feel engrossed on a certain character that you have to do something about it in order to change the outcome… I hope with this award we have bestowed upon her will open the door of opportunities where her written works will someday be given a wide global attention and distribution both in print and film.”
“From all of us here at the management of The Moving Words, Warm Congratulations, Ann! You deserve the award! You are indeed one of the finest authors we have come encountered.”