Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Captive Princess

Some may know that Pocahontas saved John Smith's life. But did you know she was later captured by the English and converted to Christianity? In The Captive Princess, a fictionalized account of Pocahontas' young life written by Wendy Lawton, you get to experience the longing Pocahontas felt toward knowing the great Gitchee Manitou, or God.

Pocahontas is the favored daughter of the great Powhatan, chief of the Powhatan tribe. But when she and her half-brother and half-sister observe tassantassuk (outsiders) arriving on ships in Chesapeake Bay, she is the only one of her tribe who is more curious than wary. All the while, she feels a stirring in her heart that there is more out there spiritually, and longs to learn more about this stirring.

When John Smith, one of the men she's observed during her many reconnaissance missions with her half-brother, is captured and brought to Powhatan, she fears he is about to be killed, and rushes in to save his life. In sparing his life, he becomes a "son" to Powhatan, and Pocahontas is allowed to teach Smith about their way of life, and subsequently learn about the English and their language.

Chief Powhatan proves to be unreliable to the English, demanding more and more despite the English's reluctance to trade guns for much needed food. When Pocahontas learns an ambush is planned, she tells Smith of her father's plans and manages to save the English again.

Several years later, the Powhatan tribe have moved away from the "traitorous" English when Pocahontas is tricked into becoming a captive on an English vessel. She's taken to Jamestown, where her father refuses to pay the full ransom for her life. It's as a captive with the English that she meets the minister of the fledgling village and is finally able to learn of Gitchee Manitou/Jesus.

What I Like: The way Ms. Lawton shapes Pocahontas really brings to life the historical figure. She seems like a real, live girl this way, which is refreshing.

I also liked the fact that the author incorporated some of the known Powhatan words, and gave a glossary in the back with meanings, as well as a list of characters, noting which characters are fictional and which are real.

What I Dislike: This may be a misconception on my part, but in one of the early chapters, Pocahontas watched some of the boys in her tribe capture and torture an raccoon. She admonishes them, stating that "a brave hunter kills his prey swiftly and painlessly. And he only takes what he needs to feed his people." The last part of the admonition seemed contradictory to things I know of other tribes, where they are to use the whole animal, not just the meat, for tools and clothing as well as food.

Also, while this is a book that's supposed to share a story of conversion, I found the "Gitchee Manitou" part of the story a little thin, and the conversion part at the end abrupt - even forced.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 8 - 12

Publisher Info: Moody Publishers, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-8024-7640-1; Paperback $6.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $5.49
OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $6.99.

Special Info: This book is part of the 'Daughters of the Faith' Series by Wendy Lawton. You can find other titles we've reviewed here.

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