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First Dawn (Freedom's Path, Book 1) by [Miller, Judith]
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First Dawn (Freedom’s Path, Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Miller, coauthor with Tracie Peterson of the popular Bells of Lowell series, offers a historical novel all her own. In 1877 Kansas, prospectors have developed two new towns: Nicodemus is to be settled by former slaves, and Hill City will be inhabited by white folks. The Harban family, hard-working African-Americans, are disappointed when they arrive in Nicodemus and find that it boasts only "wretched" lean-tos and eight small campsites. Similarly, Samuel Boyle, a white physician from Kentucky, moves his family to Hill City and is stunned when he finds that the supposed "town" is really just "a few houses and several sad-looking buildings." The womenfolk, especially, yearn for the comforts of civilization, and a few unmarried gals pine for beaux they left behind. But sustained by a strong work ethic and a firm faith in God, the pioneers begin to settle into their new environment. Boyle finds that his medical services are badly needed in Nicodemus, and as he shuttles between the two towns, he and his family begin to develop relationships with some of the black settlers. The novel has its share of implausible coincidences (apparently the sine qua non of CBA historical fiction), but these usher the story to its climax and a reasonably satisfying conclusion. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Miller's name is familiar to Christian fiction readers as Tracie Peterson's collaborator in the Bells of Lowell series. Here she begins her own series, called Freedom's Path, about pioneers in Kansas in the late 1870s. The white community of Hill City is represented by Dr. Samuel Boyle, who is surprised at the primitive conditions he finds there but remains determined to soldier on. More interestingly, because it has rarely been treated in fiction, Miller portrays the town of Nicodemus, settled by ex-slaves called Exodusters. There are the usual loves and losses typical of romantic historicals here, the usual overwrought action, the usual rewards for faith and hard work. But Miller's original material points to a superior series.

John Mort
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 814 KB
  • Print Length: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (July 1 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #449,861 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Loved this book and started book 2
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa543e63c) out of 5 stars 439 reviews
109 of 113 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa526a168) out of 5 stars I didn't like the book ending with the story so incomplete Oct. 9 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't like the book ending with the story so incomplete. The only reason I bought the second book was because I purchased it before reading/finishing the first. Good story lines but a book should be able to stand on its own without requiring the reader to purchase another.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5510cfc) out of 5 stars entertaining Christian historical saga July 6 2005
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
In 1877 Kansas, two new segregated towns are formed out of the Great Prairie: The former slaves are to live in Nicodemus while the whites settle in Hill City. Many former slaves hearing about the new opportunity take their family to relocate, but arrive to find a tent city with abject campsites to call home. Most are disappointed and return to their former homes. One of the newcomers Ezekiel Harban decides stay although his three daughters have doubts.

Former Kentucky physician Samuel Boyle brings his family to Hill City, but his new home is devastating as there is not much more than a few abodes and "several sad-looking buildings." His accompanying family members miss their old Kentucky home with the social atmosphere especially potential boyfriends. Though going back is quite the temptation, their faith in the Lord by the Boyle family and others provide them with the encouragement to make their new home work. Meanwhile Boyle's provides medical care to both towns and soon he and his family form friendships with black settlers like Ezekiel.

Christian historical readers will enjoy this fine Reconstruction Era tale with its insightful look at the period and especially the obvious parallels to the Exodus. The story line overuses improbable happenstances to move the plot forward, but sub-genre fans will not care because the cast is solid especially the lead males whose friendship bonds starting with the birth of a newborn and solidified by their beliefs in God. Judith Miller in her solo debut (see Lights of Lowell series co-written with Tracie Peterson) opens her Freedom's Path series with an entertaining Americana saga.

Harriet Klausner
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa520bf90) out of 5 stars The Promised Land Dec 31 2005
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on
Format: Paperback
Eighteen-year-old Jarena Harban didn't want to leave Kentucky. Her father was a sharecropper, and by moving to Kansas, he saw an opportunity to own land and give his family a real future, but for Jarena, this was moving from the monster you knew to one you didn't know. When the Harbans and the other black settlers arrive in Kansas, the land is not as promised. There is no town, no settlement, only barren land. Winter is quickly approaching, and the settlers have no choice but to make do. With next to no money, no shelter, and no idea what to do next, Jarena and the others must fight to survive in their promised land.

Thomas Grayson is on the run when he falls in with the Harbans. As he works with the Harbans to ready for the winter, Jarena catches his eye, but she has eyes for someone else. By the time Jarena notices Thomas, the men searching for him arrive in the neighboring town.

My main complaint with many historical novels is that they sound and feel much like a contemporary novel in a historical setting. This was not an issue with FIRST DAWN. As I read FIRST DAWN, I was warped back in time to 1877 Kansas. Ms. Miller captured the dialect, culture, sights, smells and sounds of the time period expertly. The plot rolled smoothly and characters became real. I even found myself wanting to shake Jarena occasionally to get her to see Thomas. This is the first book by Judith Miller I have read, and definitely not my last.

Reviewed by Deatri King-Bey

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By GraceDancer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I wanted to like this book. The premise was intriguing, and it sounded like I might learn some fascinating history into the bargain. But it had some major believability issues. It was a stretch to believe at least some of the former sharecroppers did not recognize the doctor's name, given that they came from the same place and he was known for being sympathetic to the blacks. The doctor's son and daughter went from unlikable, self-serving brats to compassionate, thoughtful human beings with no arc and little explanation. Those are just two examples. The plot got very draggy in a number of places. And the writing style was full of explanations and so much "telling" vs. showing ... I trudged ahead through 80% of the book trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but I finally had to throw in the towel. I don't like to give negative reviews but there was really no way not to on this one.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa511b3c0) out of 5 stars A good story! Oct. 9 2005
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Format: Paperback
Janette Oke was perhaps one of the first popular authors who brought the pioneers to the forefront of Christian fiction. Her characters were called to give up all security and to travel miles on uncomfortable, canvas-covered buckboard wagons with no hope of air-cushioned shocks; endure the roughest of climactic conditions with no thought of the comfort of micro-fleece; and stave off death with a fierce stubbornness.

Judith Miller follows in this tradition with First Dawn, yet with a twist. The first book in the Freedom's Path series from Bethany House Publishers contrasts the life of two families who choose to pursue land settlement in Kansas: a doctor and his family who live a life of privilege in Georgetown, Kentucky, and the Harbans, a family of former slaves who dream of farming their own land.

In the late 1800s, after the end of the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, parts of the frontier states began courting former slaves to buy land and settle it for five dollars per homestead. The entrepreneurial dream of working for themselves coaxed many to travel hundreds of miles away from everything they'd ever known to help settle the west. Ezekiel Harban is such a man. Father to three daughters, he uproots the family and moves them from Kentucky to a new town being settled by Negroes: Nicodemus, Kansas, named for an African prince brought to America in chains and reportedly the first slave ever to buy his freedom.

Contrast this with Yankee doctor Samuel Boyle who married a Southern belle and moved to Kentucky. Yet with his staunch convictions about black men being treated as equals, he's never found his niche in the South and decides to start a new practice in Hill City, Kansas, the white settlement in the Solomon Valley. And so this storyteller begins to weave her storytelling magic.

Armchair Interviews says: Miller is a wonderful storyteller who unravels a fascinating part of history artfully and tastefully. The suspense is mild, but the story is a good one.