This is an unusual fictional account of the real-life story of two men. Raised side by side as family in coastal Georgia, Henry Lord King and Neptune Small are called “brothers” and even “twins” by members of both their families. But one is a slave and the other his master. They fish, hunt, and enjoy good and financially imperiled times in the plantations owned by “Lordy’s” large progressive family, who not only allow house servants to read, but insist on it. Lordy goes up to New York for his law degree, but years of separation from his trusted servant do not break their bond. Finally, as young men, they go off to war on the Confederate side as officer and manservant. Neptune makes good on his childhood promise to always bring his master home once Captain King is killed in battle at the end of 1862.
This story’s overriding theme centers on loyalty and duty to a person who is good to you, even if his family holds you in bondage. The writing is respectful of the true-life characters, but it uses religious veneer instead of a true exploration of the choices these men made in their lives together. Ms. Mueller does not honor the result of the bloody conflict to write that Neptune Small was “awarded” his freedom when the war was over.