What if John Milton, Cromwell's secretary, anticipating the King's return to London, had decided to flee England in order to avoid imprisonment or death? What if he had crossed the ocean and joined the Puritans recently settled in New England? From this idea Peter Ackroyd creates an enthralling story of conflict, treachery, hypocrisy and greed.
Milton's puritanical Christianity causes problems from day one and the tale builds to a war with the next settlement, a Catholic group who raise their leader to the level of king. New Milton, our eponymous hero's township wins a pyrrhic victory over Ralph Kempis (King of Mary Mount - and surely, history's only King Ralph!) .
Milton is not given the pleasure of his victory as he is tricked into an alcohol induced night of sin, after which, he staggers off into the woods, trips and loses the sight which had returned at the hands of an Indian healer.
I found the concept more entertaining than its inception: I was not sorry to reach the final full stop.