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VINE VOICEon December 31, 2009
At the beginning of his novel, White Seed, author Paul Clayton dedicates the work to Clavell, Michener and Follet, three writers of grandly landscaped, historically supported fiction. He doesn't disappoint.

For readers of American history, the barely known chapters, of Raleigh's ill-fated experimental colony have always sparked conjecture. White Seed does an admirable job in bringing together the realities of the late 16th century including class warfare, global politics and incomplete understanding of the reasons for exploration and colonizing the New World.

These powerful forces, often at odds, are fleshed out perfectly within the characters of this novel. White Seed leads the reader into the lives of indentured colonists, the landed gentry, the gang-pressed soldiers, poorly chosen leaders, the New World itself and those who pulled the strings affecting all their lives.

I was particularly appreciative of the full, rich characterizations of Native Virginians, who play major roles in this tale. The book held my attention and was an easy, very enjoyable read filled with emotion. It accurately expressed the longings and failures of each character without creating cardboard cliches. The scenes of conflict were also intimately crafted, very satisfying and completely without the excesses expected from the Hollywood treatment of warfare.

The fate of the colony, though foreshadowed early on, reaches a satisfying and very believable conclusion based, in part, upon reported witness accounts and thorough research. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good period read and particularly those who have always had questions regarding our earliest colonial history.
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on December 2, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this take on the mysterious historical fiction of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, Virginia. The development of the characters is well done and the reader can easily become engaged with the book. The story is plausible, and it may have actually happened that way. No one knows. I especially like that the author wove fictional characters and stories in with real events and characters. It was very well done and highly recommended. I read the paperback version of the story.
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on September 13, 2012
At first, I only read the sample of this but I found even just the sample very unrealistic. In the very beginning, main character Maggie, while settling into the ship which will take her to the colony, confesses to a near complete stranger who she'd met no more than a few hours before that the reason she left London was because she was raped there (this is not a spoiler since it is mentioned in the book's summery). It seemed incredibly unrealistic to me that a woman would tell someone she just met the horrors of her rape for no other reason than to answer the question "why did you leave London?" It seems to me that such a private and humiliating experience is not something someone would so readily relive to a stranger who merely asked why they left the city. In my opinion, a believable character would have lied or avoided answering at all.

Furthermore, Maggie went on to confess a crime of her companion with no fear that if a higher authority were to find out, her companion might be punished. Why would Maggie so readily trust a complete stranger with so many private secrets?

I realize the author was probably trying to use the scene to explain the events preceding the beginning of the book but there are other, better, more believable ways to do so. Even at only $4.99 on Kindle (the price when I initially looked at it), I was not willing to buy a book with such unrealistic character behavior.

Then, after making these comments on the sample, I noticed the book was available for free. I decided to give it another chance, given that I didn't have much to lose.

Unfortunately, I was still not impressed. I felt the character were flat and there was more that didn't make sense to me or seemed unrealistic. For example, when Maggie was suddenly the colony's school teacher. She had mentioned in the beginning that she could serve as a child teacher but Maggie wound up being indentured as a maid, not a teacher, and it was not mentioned that she would be teaching... until suddenly she is. It's very disjointed.

Then there came the scene where Maggie realizes that one of the men on the colony is the man who killed her father when she was a child. Not only does this seem far-fetched but I felt like if the book had been better written, there would have been no need for personal and unrealistic dramas like this. It's like the author threw this in to keep people interested because it was otherwise pretty boring, which is remarkable considering what should have been the fascinating nature of the subject matter.

Additionally, I was really disappointed by the ending. I realize Maggie had found happiness and feared going back to England but that's not a choice she should have made for everyone else by staying hiding when she saw White return. She always could have chosen to stay, no one would force her to go back to England.

Some of these things may seem like minor things to some people because they don't really influence the plot but I just find it difficult to get into a story when such small yet obvious aspects are overlooked and don't make sense to me. It's a shame because I thought the story itself had potential and the one thing I thought was very well done was the portrayal of the deterioration of the settlement (not just in terms of their survival struggle but watching the break down of authority and civilized society), it just got bogged down by stuff that didn't make sense or seemed unrealistic.
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on March 11, 2012
I was frankly surprised, after reading of the awards this book received, at the poor quality
of the writing. The characters are single dimension and not believable, the writing is sophomoric.
This untold story hasn't much to offer. The author creates dialogue in olde English style, then slips
into it himself outside of the dialogue...and seems not to notice. Through the entire story, the natives
encountered by the English settlers are referred to as "savages" without variation. The book is verry slow
and should have been shorter. I finished it only because I thought it would come to life at some point...
it never did. There is a thread of intelligent speculation on the fate of the Roanoke colony...but it's lost
in the telling. It amazes me that this book would be seriously compared with Follett's efforts.
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on February 8, 2010
Dropping off the face of the earth, the lost colony of Roanoke has been the attraction of much wonder. "White Seed: The Untold Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke" is a novel offering Paul Clayton's take on this lost colony of people who were abandoned by their countrymen on the shores of the uncharted Virginia. Telling a story of an abused Irish girl finding her place in this new world and finding love in the wrong places, and the plotting of local warlords, "White Seed" is a fascinating read that should not be missed.
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on March 14, 2013
I really thought that this was more a true history of the lost colony of Roanoke. When I realized it was a fictionalized account of yet another theory of what actually happened I was disappointed.

I stopped reading the story about 1/2 way through it. Mostly because it was after all just another theory. A good one probably, but just a fictional account. I bought it hoping it would be a story that would help to prove that the colony of Roanoke had some solution, not just another guess. A good one probably but not the less nothing to prove that that is what happened.

If you are looking for a fictional historical novel about this time than this is your book. If you are looking for a conclusive true dialog about why this colony just disappeared, this is not it.

Over all I would say that what I read was good and interesting, it just was not what I was looking for in this case.

Buy with caution. It's a good read but fiction none-the-less.
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on April 26, 2011
Just finished this book and found it thoroughly enjoyable. I will not get into the particulars of the book itself. I do not like to 'spoil' it for the reader. The only 'negative' I can say, would be to have a bit more info on how Maggie may have lived at the end, but then, the book is about the unknown.

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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on June 2, 2012
White Seed gives an accurate account of the an intriguing event of colonization, the social
mores, etc. of the time period, along with a plausible rendering of a possible ending for the
colonists who survived. The author's style is somewhat juvenile; however, this makes the
story easily accessible for younger readers.
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on July 7, 2011
The book is very action packed, but I kept setting it down because at times it was too much. One horrible thing after another kept happening, and they were all so miserable. Of course, this is expected from a historical novel on early America, especially Roanoke, but it was still emotionally draining for me to read at times.

I like that the main character he chose was an indentured servant and not from the aristocracy, although he used other POV characters from the upper class. It was also interesting to read about the interactions with different indigenous groups and the colonists. What I liked the most about the characters and the groups though was that no one person or group was all good or all bad. The characterization was very well down, especially since there were quite a few characters. Some of the characters were pretty evil and others good, but even with the bad guys, he shows their motivations, which made the story that much more compelling.

The only negatives for me were that at times it was confusing in the beginning keeping many of the male colonists straight. I kept getting their names confused, and it would have been nice to have a list of characters to help sort it out. Also, the Kindle version didn't have a Table of Contents, so if I wanted to go back a chapter and then go forward it was more cumbersome than it should have been.
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on May 16, 2015
While "White Seed" is fiction, it provides a readily believable explanation for one of North American history's greatest mysteries, the vanishing of the Roanoke Colony. "White Seed" is well-written such that this reader could easily believe he was reading a true historical account. The characters are well-developed. The author based their development on historical research of the individual parties to the actual event. The detail is very good, providing the reader with in-depth information allowing him the sense of being present and viewing the events first hand.

I highly recommend "White Seed" most particularly to those who enjoy historical fiction as well as those history buffs who would enjoy explanatory story the purports to solve this great, unresolved mystery.
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