"Skillfully written and consistently entertaining, 'Once There Was Fire' is an extraordinary work of literature, a compelling read from beginning to end ..."
--Midwest Book Review
"Overall, this novel should gratify historians and general readers alike....A thoughtful, well-written work that breathes new life into past personalities and events."
-- Kirkus Reviews
The descriptions of phenomenal storytellers, feast makers, drinking contests, blood bonds, sacrifices of prisoners, polygamous relationships, remarkable physical prowess in sport and war, military strategies that guarantee success or failure, and so much more fill these pages into what one can only call a mesmerizing saga.
--Historical Novel Society
"What makes this historical novel impressive is its author's feel for his epic subject matter, and his ability to tell the story so lyrically, with a Hawaiian lilt to the language....this page turner vividly paints a way of life worlds apart from the one we now know on Hawaii's shores."-- Rick Chatenever, Maui News
"The descriptions of the scenery and the imagery were so real that you could almost taste the salt of the ocean."
-- Readers Favorite
"A bold and stirring historical novel .... entertaining with confident pacing and compelling characters ... it's clear from the start that Shender has an innate talent for storytelling whilst his character portraits are quite simply captivating as he transports his readers to an altogether different age."
-- Book Viral
From the Back Cover
A work of fiction informed by history, Once there Was Fire
is the story of Kamehameha the Great, whorose from inauspicious beginnings on the Big Island of Hawai'i in the mid-1700sto conquer the entire archipelago by 1810. The founder of the Kingdom ofHawaii, Kamehameha was born into a Neolithic society, unchanged for generationssince the islands' settlement by voyagers from distant Polynesia a thousandyears earlier. As a young man, Kamehameha witnessed the arrival in the Islandsof the English explorer, James Cook, in 1779--a culturally seismic event for theHawaiians. Kamehameha was the first among his people to grasp thetransformative implications of Cook's visit, an understanding he would laterturn to advantage in struggles with his rivals. Once There Was Fire
brings a little-understood, historicallydistant era to life through the words and actions of its memorable characters:Kamehameha, his strong-willed and rebellious consort, Ka'ahumanu, his favoritebrother, Keli'imaika'i, and Kamehameha's sons, nephews, comrades in arms, haoleadvisers, and bitter enemies. The novel invites readers to see Hawaii of themid-18th and early 19th centuries as the old Hawaiians themselves might haveseen and experienced it on the cusp of their passage from splendid isolation tothe wider world.