Liberty Epic of Shadows: The Revised Edition
by L. A. Espriux
Books by L. A. Espriux

"Then, as if on cue, frogs begin to sing, a melody that almost she understands. Nela knows Liberty’s monster has found her at last."

Once the treasures of the New World are discovered, particularly Inca gold, Spain sends many a sailor, pirate, and cutthroat across the ocean and the decades to retrieve it. One Basque ship captain finds himself returning with a hull full of plunder, a priest, and fifteen fleeing natives. After a terrible storm, the captain must face a near mutiny and throw over most of the treasure. Eventually, the group will abandon ship. The immigrants find a new place to call home, but the greed that led men to their lands will follow them. The tribe survives in their swamp and becomes known as the Aconee.

Later, during the Revolutionary War, a British soldier is wounded when his entire squad is wiped out. He is saved by the Aconee and lives with them, eventually marrying and having a child. However, when his wife dies, he becomes distrustful of them. Eventually, he follows the leader to a secret cave, where he finds an old pistol and gold. He escapes with the gold and sends mercenaries to wipe out the entire tribe. He uses the gold to establish himself as a gentleman and settle an area near the swamp where his family will live on the wealth of the stolen gold for generations. Eventually, the last of his line, a woman, remains childless after being widowed. She is involved in small-town secrets that will eventually link a couple of Vietnam veterans to their own past and a larger global history, flowing through the gold and back to the time of Noah and the flood.

Espriux’s multi-generational novel has some elements of magic realism similar to books like Allende’s The House of Spirits and Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. All three books follow generations of families and explore how secrets can affect future generations in the towns where they take place. There are also elements of myth, magic, and spiritualism in all three. Espriux’s work, more than the others, links the myths and spirituality to ancient times and the beginnings of Christianity. In some ways, the relics of the past and their stories and mysteries have meanings and disentanglements that are reminiscent of the conspiracies in a Dan Brown novel. And like the aforementioned novelists, Espriux does an excellent job linking the past and present and finding creative ways to carry the stories and sins of the past into the lives of the characters in the present. As each time period moves forward, the links are well-established, and the deceased characters remain present through the influence they exert on the modern day.

Like similar novels, Espriux’s work rewards the patient reader. These types of books require an initial commitment to understanding where the story comes from in order to see the lasting effects of history and comprehend their weight on the lives of the characters at the story’s conclusion. Espriux’s inclusion of an interested scholar pulling all the pieces together is artfully done and helps tie the narrative together. However, the book’s overall effectiveness would have been enhanced through some additional editing for grammatical issues. Also, occasionally the links between the native myths and Christianity feel a bit weak. Still, it is doubtful that such small considerations will diminish most readers' pleasure in seeing the book unfold. Any fan interested in books based on mysteries of the past mixed with the lives and secrets of small-town inhabitants will find a rich story waiting for them.

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