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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves

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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves Cover

ISBN13: 9780763629502
ISBN10: 0763629502
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

The rain poured from the heavens as we fled across the mud-flats, that scene of desolation; it soaked through our clothes and bit at the skin with its chill. It fell hard and ceaseless from the heavens as the deluge that had both inundated Deucalion and buoyed up Noah; and as with that deluge, we knew not whether it fell as an admonition for our sins or as the promise of a brighter, newly washed morning to come.

I left all that I knew behind me. Though the ways of the College of Lucidity were strange to the world and the habits of its academicians eccentric, they were familiar to me; and I traded them now for uncertainty and strife. Though I returned, indeed, to Boston, that town best known to me, its circumstances were changed, now that it was the seat of the Kings Army and sat silent and brooding in the Bay. We knew not what we would find therein.

Dr. Trefusis and I stumbled across the ribbed sand. Treading through seaweed mounded in pools, we slithered and groped, that we might retain our footing; and on occasions, we fell, Dr. Trefusiss hands bleeding from the roughness of rock and incision of barnacles.

We wound through the meanders that led between stubbled mud-banks in no straight or seemly course. I pulled Dr. Trefusis out of the ditches where water still ran over the silt. We crawled over knolls usually submerged by the Bay. At some point, soaked, he shed his coat.

After a time, there was no feature but the sand, corrugated with the action of the tides. We made our way across a dismal plain, groping for detail, sight obscured.

But that morning I had been a prisoner, a metal mask upon my face, and my jowls larded with my own vomit, in a condition which could hardly have been more debased; but that morning I had watched the masters of my infancy and youth writhe upon the floor and fall into unpitied slumber, perhaps their bane. A sentence of death might already rest upon my head. The thought of this appeared fleetingly — the memory of those bodies on the floor, bound with silken kerchiefs — and at this, I found I could not breathe, and wished to run faster, that I might recover my breath.

Tumbling through the darkness of those flats, revolving such thoughts amidst utter indistinctness, I feared I would never again find myself; all I knew was lost and sundered from me; I knew not anymore what actuated me. We ran on through the night, across the sand, and it was as Dr. Trefusis had always avowed in his sparkish philosophy, that there was no form nor matter, that we acted our lives in an emptiness decorated with an empty show of substance, and a darkness infinite behind it.

Forms and figures loomed out of the rain: boulders in our path, gruesome as ogres to my susceptible wits, hulking, pocked and eyed with limpets, shaggy with weeds.

We came upon a capsized dinghy in the mud, mostly rotted, and barrels half-sunk. My aged companion now leaned upon my shoulder as we walked, his breath heavy in his chest.

Once, I started with terror at a ratcheting upon my foot, to find a horseshoe crab trundling past in search of a pool, its saber-tail and lobed armor grotesque in the extreme. Dr. Trefusis, wheezing, greeted it, "Old friend."

His amiability to the crab, I feared, was merely a pretense to stop our running. He did not seem well.

We could no longer detect the city, the night was so black, so full of water and motion, so unsparing was the drench. Our senses disorganized, our frames trembling with cold, we calculated as best we could the direction of our town and made our way across that countryside of dream.

Once I was shown by the scholars of the College a rock, spherical in shape, which, when chiseled open, revealed a tiny cavern of crystal; and they told me that these blunt stones often held such glories; that though some were filled only with dust, others, when broke open, enwombed the skeletons of dragons or of fish, beaked like birds. Thus I felt in approaching my city; that place which seemed known stone, but which, when riven after its long gestation, might contain either wonders, or ash, or the death in infancy of some clawed terror.

We found ourselves at the brink of the returning tide. We walked through it without notice, so thick was the very air with water, until the flood reached Dr. Trefusiss knees, and there he halted, swaying. "I cannot continue," said he. "I will return to shore."

Thus his offer; but well did I know that he had no intention of returning to the bank, and could not unassisted, did he wish to. I was aware that if I left him, he would sink to the ground and allow the waters to cover him.

I instructed him to climb upon my shoulders.

"I will drag you down, Octavian."

"You have risked your all for me, sir; and it is only right that I do the same for you."

He considered this, and at length, we now feeling the motion of the tide through our legs, said, "When I become burdensome, cast me off backwards."

I leaned down as best I could with the waters rising, and he clambered atop me, clawing at my head and neck for purchase. When he was situated, I stood again and began striding through the returning sea.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Erica Horne, April 22, 2009 (view all comments by Erica Horne)
I have just finished listening to the audible version of Octavian Nothing, and it seems fitting that we have just elected an African American to be our President. I think Octavian would have been so happy to know this. Octavian is one the most complete, complicated, heartfelt characters a reader will come upon. Learning the plight of the African American soldiers who fought on either side of the revolution, was an education, and because of the wonderful story telling, and authentic period dialogue as well as narration, an adventure I was sorry to have end.

Octavian is real to me and has touched my heart in the deepest of ways.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
crowyhead, March 17, 2009 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I found this, the sequel to Anderson's award-winning "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party" to be a little bit of a let-down. It's still an excellent book, but it's twice as long as the first volume and yet does not seem as eventful. Perhaps the issue is that it lacks much of the eerie confusion of the first novel; unlike in the beginning of "The Pox Party," where one isn't even quite certain whether the book is historical or speculative fiction, the reader is pretty much aware of the historical context. This makes it slightly less intriguing. We still want to follow Octavian on his voyage of discovery, but we already know the score in a way we didn't in the first novel.

Probably if I hadn't been so blown away by the first volume, I would be more enthusiastic about this one. But while I feel it was well-written and interesting, it didn't leave me excited or singing Anderson's praises quite so enthusiastically.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, March 14, 2009 (view all comments by Shoshana)
This second volume is less engaging than the first, though still ultimately enjoyable. Octavian is bored, and often, so is the reader. This is tale of a claustrophobic, uncertain time, which also affects the reader. I read the first book very quickly, but this volume took more work. I admire this diptych very much, but I'm not sure that this half would hold a young reader's attention well.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780763629502
Author:
Anderson, M. T.
Publisher:
Candlewick Press (MA)
Subject:
Historical - Military & Wars
Subject:
History
Subject:
Slavery
Subject:
Social Issues - General
Subject:
People & Places - United States - African-American
Subject:
Historical - United States - Colonial
Subject:
African Americans
Subject:
Historical - United States - Colonial & Revolutionary
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-General
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Subject:
historical fiction;fiction;slavery;ya;american revolution;young adult;revolutionary war;historical;boston;african american;young adult fiction;freedom;african americans;printz honor;virginia;printz;teen;war;history;liberty
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20081031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1-COLOR
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
9.20x6.86x1.76 in. 2.23 lbs.
Age Level:
14-17

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Related Subjects

Children's » Awards » Michael L. Printz Award Winners
Children's » General
Children's » Historical Fiction » Military and War
Children's » Historical Fiction » United States » Colonial and Revolutionary Periods
Children's » Sale Books
Children's » Situations » General
Young Adult » General

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 592 pages Candlewick Press (MA) - English 9780763629502 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "With an eye trained to the hypocrisies and conflicted loyalties of the American Revolution, Anderson resoundingly concludes the finely nuanced bildungsroman begun in his National Book Award-winning novel. Again comprised of Octavian's journals and a scattering of other documents, the book finds Octavian heading to Virginia in response to a proclamation made by Lord Dunmore, the colony's governor, who emancipates slaves in exchange for military service. Octavian's initial pride is short-lived, as he realizes that their liberation owes less to moral conviction than to political expediency. Disillusioned, facing other crises of conscience, Octavian's growth is apparent, if not always to himself: when he expresses doubt about having become any more a man, his mentor, Dr. Trefusis, assures him, 'That is the great secret of men. We aim for manhood always and always fall short. But my boy, I have seen you at least reach half way.' Made aware of freedom-fighters on both sides of the conflict (as well as heart-stopping acts of atrocity), readers who work through and embrace Anderson's use of historical parlance will be rewarded with a challenging perspective onAmerican history. Ages 14 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[M]ore awe-inspiring reinterpretations of America's birth....Even more present in this volume are passionate questions, directly relevant to teens' lives, about basic human struggles for independence, identity, freedom, love, and the need to reconcile the past."
"Review" by , "I believe Octavian Nothing will someday be recognized as a novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called 'encyclopedic' in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensive and deeply textured pattern."
"Review" by , "Elegantly crafted writing in an 18th-century voice, sensitive portrayals of primary and secondary characters and a fascinating author's note make this one of the few volumes to fully comprehend the paradoxes of the struggle for liberty in America."
"Review" by , "[A] brilliant, affecting, and philosophical sequel....Anderson's masterful pacing, surprising use of imagery and symbolism, and adeptness at crafting structure make this a powerful reimagining of slavery and the American Revolution dazzle."
"Review" by , "More cohesive than the first book, it is a wonderfully written story with immersive descriptions of life during the Revolution, but it is still a challenging read that touches on some truly difficult topics."
"Review" by , "[T]his great, tragic, sometimes even darkly humorous tale of an extraordinary young man's experience of slavery in America is related in the language of the 18th century, making it a demanding but rewarding read."
"Synopsis" by , Depicting intense scenes of war and elusive visions of liberty, this astonishing sequel to the National Book Award-winning Vol. 1: The Pox Party relays Octavian's experiences with the Royal Ethiopian Regiment off the coast of Virginia.
"Synopsis" by , The stunning conclusion to the National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.
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