1812: The Land Between Flowing Waters

Written by Ken Leland
Review by Cindy Vallar

Set in Upper Canada and the Great Lakes region, 1812 recounts the story of Loyalists and members of the First Nations as they struggle to survive and repel American aggressors. Captain Alex Lockwood returns home to find his sweetheart, a former slave named Janie, married to his best friend and pregnant with their second child. Alex welcomes General Brock’s assignments because they keep him from pining after Janie, and while ferreting out traitors, a Quaker girl falls in love with him. Young Hannibal escapes slavery and is adopted by Kshiwe of the First Nations. Kmonokwe, his wife, teaches Hannibal to be a medicine person like herself, and together they help their people and the wounded once war breaks out.

The intriguing premise never meets readers’ expectations. For example, the love-triangle conflict fails to materialize. Since the story unfolds from so many points of view – both major and minor characters – and is populated by a plethora of characters, it’s easy to lose track of who’s who. After the first 70 pages, the narrative switches back and forth between third and first person, which is disconcerting and jarring. When it’s in first person, it’s not the same character’s perspective each time. The lack of an author’s note provides no clue about his intent in telling this story, and he portrays only Canadian perspectives, which makes the Americans seem stereotypical aggressors. Those seeking a well-rounded and deeper account of 1812 would do better reading Tom Taylor’s Brock’s Agent.