In this timeless survival story, four indentured servants escape their Russian Alaska work camp in a stolen canoe, only to face a harrowing journey down the Pacific Northwest coast. Battling unrelenting high seas and fierce weather from New Archangel, Alaska, to Astoria, Oregon, the men struggle to avoid hostile Tlingit Indians, to fend off starvation and exhaustion, and to endure their own doubt and distrust. Based on an actual incident in 1853, The Sea Runners is a spare and awe-inspiring tale of the human quest for freedom.
The coast they travelled is a maze of channels with literally hundreds of islands and passages. The battle against the sea is vividly described—storms, fog, the totally uninhabited coast except for a few hostile natives and the sheer distance they had to paddle produced not only physical but mental challenges. The beautiful but deadly setting is wonderfully described. I found the characters believable and well realized. The plot had several unexpected twists that kept me turning the pages.
I have been a fan of Ivan Doig’s storytelling for many years now. This is an early work of Doig’s, obvious in that his writing style is far less polished than in his later books. There is an odd mix of very convoluted, incredibly long sentences, followed by staccato partial sentences. I found this combination hard to read and it made it difficult for me to get into the storyline. Nevertheless, after feeling that I was slogging through the first few chapters, Doig’s storytelling once again caught me and I was hooked.
Recommended with some reservations about the writing style.
These men were united in their desire to reach freedom but were of vastly differing personalities. Readers get to understand them through Doig’s imagined dialog. His account of the perils they faced is gripping. It is remarkable that any survived.
A vast amount of research went into this novel, and readers who appreciate “adventure tales” will be well served.
It's the mid-1800s and four Swedish men decide to leave “Russian America” (now Alaska) for Astoria, Oregon. They canoe alongside the coast to get there.
I couldn't get interested in the book for the first 1/3 of the book or so. There were a lot of names – people and places – and I
The book blurb hardly does justice to the story. The storyline one might say is as straightforward as a travelogue, but surprising in its brilliant plotting. A brief foreboding in the opening chapter propels the reader through the story setup and deep into the tempest of the journey, seeking a revealing and possible consequences. It's essentially a story about the courage and frailty of life.
As a reader, this is a story that will truly transport you. If you are a writer and haven't read this story to improve your craft, tsk, tsk.