Northwest Passage Is Half Good Reading

Northwest Passage is a super novel about the French and Indian Wars and a not-very good novel about political espionage, both between one set of covers.

Langdon Towne finds it wise to leave his native Portsmouth in 1759 when some of the King’s officials overhear his remarks about them. He joins Major Rogers, the greatest of the Indian fighters, in an expedition to wipe an enemy village northeast of Montreal. Kenneth Robert’s makes that tale jump off the page in technicolor and surround sound. I couldn’t put the book down until the survivors got back home. Like Towne, I admired Rogers leadership and was willing to overlook his flaws.

What happens after the St. Francis expedition is another story. The second tale is splintered and murky. Towne signs on to go with Rogers to find a Northwest Passage from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. Rogers never goes. He ends up in a Fleet Street prison in London.

Few novelists can match Roberts’ skill with an adventure story, but political intrigue isn’t his forté.

I recommend you read book I of Northwest Passage, and skip book II unless you are more interested in Revolutionary War history than in a good yarn.

Northwest Passage
By Kenneth Roberts
Doubleday, 1937
734 pages
#2 on the 1937 and #5 on the 1938 bestseller lists
My grade: C

© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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