Black Dynasty tells the story of African-American life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ruthless shopkeeper Willard Stone poaches an idea from his assistant and creates a thriving kerosene lamp business. The aftermath and ensuing decades are populated with drama, hazard, and a wide-ranging cast of characters.
This is an interesting story, well-told. There’s lots to enjoy, and to learn, about black American history (although some scenes are quite distressing). The writing is accomplished and very detailed, and obviously well-researched. The omniscient narrator is tricky to pull off these days, but works well here with the overall old-fashioned feel of the novel. There are errors in presentation: the clumsy use of multiple asterisks to break up text; proofreading mistakes such as inconsistent capitalization (mister/Mister in the same context) and missing commas before direct address; the typesetting could be improved. The book deserves a polished professional production standard, and perhaps a more evocative title to draw readers in? Apart from these issues, however, Black Dynasty is a good read and the beginning of a series that should appeal to readers looking for scholarly history enriched with interesting characters, plot, and atmosphere.