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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:African American / Historical
  • Language:English
  • Pages:412
  • eBook ISBN:9781483558080

Small Fires in the Sun

First Were Natchez, Then Came the Spanish, the French & The African Slaves

by Herbert R. Metoyer, Jr.

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Overview
A sprawling historical drama chronicling the Colonial history of Louisiana. Mukta, an African man aboard a slave ship in the mid-18th century, allies himself with the slavers and is rewarded with relative freedom. Yet when the ship arrives at the slave market, Mukta’s master sells him on a whim. Metoyer’s novel is filled with such cruelty—betrayals, bloody battles, sexual violence, etc. Multiple, diverse perspectives tell a range of stories. In one scene, Two Dog, a Native American of the Natchez people, has a seemingly supernatural experience in a temple; soon after, French adventurer St. Denis rides a boat into the wilderness and wonders whether his men will be ambushed. Where the author excels are his depictions of people and places long extinct. He sprinkles authentic foreign words into dialogue and colorfully describes indigenous villages, local dances, and customs. While Metoyer capably describes the elaborate power plays of early Louisiana, his descriptions of daily life are vivid and often graphic. Toward the end of the novel, St. Denis’ wife, Emanuelle, encounters a young man named Robert Trevor; within minutes they struggle to contain their passion. Throughout the novel, Metoyer reminds readers that the Natchez are headhunters, and their social order is divided into a rigid class system. Each ethnic group is deeply suspicious of the others, and tempers are often deadly. Many characters occupy a moral gray area: Mukta is a slave, but he also molests the women aboard the slave ship. St. Denis is mostly honorable, but he leads expeditions that eventually destroy the indigenous communities. Metoyer doesn’t gloss over the brutality of the age. His enormous cast of characters is as selfish and merciless as their historical inspirations. Exhaustively researched and unflinching in its descriptions, bringing early America to life while shedding light on some of its least remembered founders.
Description
Small Fires in The Sun The Story of St. Denis, The Natchez, and The African Slave By Herbert R. Metoyer, Jr. ~ ~ ~ A Cane River Colony Series Prologue Small Fires in The Sun is a wholly fictional, historical saga based strongly on actual events and, in part, on the lives of some of the persons who actually existed during that time.... ______ The Strangers:  each from a different world, each bearing a different cross, each in the service of a different God. All seeking, in their own way, the things craved by men of all creeds  love, respect, peace of mind, and a small measure of prosperity. But finding instead — hardship, deceit, and sometimes... death. The French:  an ill-prepared, disgruntled group of disillusioned settlers using their wits and sometimes treachery to gain a foothold on foreign soil. Louis Juchereau de St. Denis: A fearless adventurer, explorer, and founder of Natchitoches, the oldest city in Louisiana. Although he seeks material gain like most men of his day, he is a man of high ideals who has earned the respect of Indians and slaves alike. He believes in the church and family. But despite his salient character and good intentions, he is often plagued by many untimely setbacks. Emanuelle de St. Denis: The compassionate, Spanish wife of St. Denis. Usually level headed, she can be very outspoken when prompted. Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville: Governor of Louisiana. Related to St. Denis through the marriage of his brother, Iberville, to St. Denis' sister. Haughty and egotistical, he rules with an iron hand. He is wise in some matters, ignorant in others. Prone to be spiteful if offended. Etienne: A young French trapper who has fallen in love with the Natchez princess, Morning Sun. His allegiance is divided. Claudette: A former prostitute, condemned to plying her trade despite the fact that she yearns only for a husband and a family. She finally achieves her aspirations in the arms of a Natchez warrior. --- The Natchez:  the most socially advanced tribe on the North American Continent. A matrilineal, complex society of head-hunting, sun-worshipers who believe that their chief, the Great Sun, is a God. Morning Sun: A princess of the ruling Sun Class, and mother of the youth chosen to be the next chief of their tribe. She is haughty and high strung, and although she has a husband, she has fallen in love with a young Frenchman named Etienne. Her gravest concern is the preservation of her tribe. Tattooed Serpent: Morning Sun's brother and the Great War Chief of the Natchez nation. He is shrewd and cunning. Yet, despite all his wisdom, he is unable to protect his tribe from the wrath of the French and their eventual annihilation at a small lake in North Central Louisiana known today as Lake Sang Pour Sang (Blood for Blood). Two Dog: A teenage boy and one of several guardians responsible for maintaining the Perpetual Fire of his nation. He commits the one unpardonable sin  lets the fire go out. This act sets the stage of impending disaster for his tribe. Black Hawk: Morning Sun's son, and the boy who would become the next chief. Fani Mingo (Squirrel Chief) Coutee: A Choctaw War Chief who hires out to assist the French in their wars. The Slaves: Uprooted from their homeland and forced into servitude. Each dancing a different rhythm to the same music, the same drum. Kiokera: Christian name Francois. A young boy brought to Louisiana in chains aboard the slave ship, Marianne. A favored slave living in the care of his protector, St. Denis. Although he is loyal and devoted, he yearns for freedom even if it means the death of his beloved master. Zolare: An older female slave in the service of St. Denis. She fell in love with Francois the moment he arrived from the dark Continent. She, however, is rebuked by Francois. Mukta: Kiokera's former black slave-master aboard the slave ship, the Marianne. Unexpectantly, he is sold into slavery. He escapes through a peculiar chain of events.
About the author
A Time to Be Born… Herbert Metoyer, Jr. was born to the union of Herbert Metoyer, Sr. and Ruby Lee Randle on September 8, 1935, in Oakdale, Louisiana. He is the eldest of seven children. A Time to Plant (To Live)… In his early years, Herbert spent most of his time admiring aircrafts, building model airplanes and graduated at age 16 from Allen High School, in Oakdale, LA as a Salutatorian . He then continued on to Southern University as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, graduating at 19 years old with a Liberal Arts degree in Biology & Pre-med. Soon after, Herbert went on to pursue his aviation dreams, serving in the United States Army for 28 years, and retired from service as a military officer, pilot of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft at Fort Bragg, NC in 1985. He relocated to Detroit, MI where he worked 22 years as an Engineer for General Motors in the Testing Laboratories. Once settled in Detroit, he and his family placed their membership at Conant Avenue United Methodist Church in 1978. As a member of Conant Avenue, he proudly served in the choir, Board of Trustees, United Men’s Organization, and worked diligently with the Media Ministry. In 1984, he became one of the founding members of the Detroit Writers’ Guild, serving as a Creative Writing Instructor, Executive Editor, Chairman of the Board, and Executive Director. He was an established author of literary works to include, ‘The Awakening of Hanna Lee”, which won top honors in “The Metro-Times All State Short Fiction Contest”. Herbert was instrumental in publishing “Paradise Valley Days”, which captured the history of Black Detroit from the 1930s to the 1960s and earned the Detroit Writers’ Guild an award from the State of Michigan. He was also presented with the ASANTE (Thank you) award in 2010 for his contributions to the city of New Orleans by NOLA. In addition to these accomplishments, Herbert composed countless songs and records delivering the smooth melody of his signature sound; an original blend of jazz, country and folk music for the enjoyment of all. One of his songs entitled “Mother, Fools Are a Long Line Coming” became a favorite of his friend, Fred Neil, who later re-recorded it, placed it in a time capsule, and sent to the moon for later discovery. A Time to Love… On January 20, 1956, Herbert married his college sweetheart, Geraldine Williams. Together, with their family, they traveled the world over enjoying its splendor. Herbert was a generous man who never hesitated at the opportunity to help family, friends, and strangers in need. He loved to surround himself with good food, music, and people of all ages; always opening the doors of his home to anyone who shared in his passion for fellowship. Truly, a man with many talents, Herbert developed numerous passions that he was able to share with people of all races and backgrounds. As an artist, musician, songwriter, poet, lecturer, speaker, teacher, author, researcher and inventor, he was an inspiration to many. His dedication and tireless efforts to discover, embrace and record our family history has provided an invaluable compilation of historical data that evidences our family’s lineage. Because of this, the Metoyer history will be celebrated and endured for generations to come. A Time to Return… On July 24, 2015 after battling health issues, he was called home by his Heavenly Father who said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” ….a place has been prepared for you.
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