I have completed reading Ivan Doig's novel The Sea Runners. I must admit that part of my interest in this author is that he is fellow University of Washington graduate. However, I was also drawn to this book because it is a tale of the Pacific Northwest. Ever since reading Timothy Egan's The Good Rain I have been interested in how the land shapes us as individuals.
Doig's novel is about four Swedish men who have signed up to be indentured servants at the Russian settlement in what is today's Stika, Alaska. Their status is not much greater than slaves. One of them organizes the theft of a canoe and they escape as the Russians are nursing hangovers from the Christmas celebration. Their goal is to canoe south all of the way to the Astoria, Oregon. Doing so they braved the wind, rain, ocean currents, starvation, natives and each other.
While the journey has its dangerous moments, it seemed that the greatest obstacle each had to overcome was the strenuous day to day living. I think the author did a good job of creating four different men with different motivations and show how they coped with the day to day life. As someone of Swedish descent, I also enjoyed getting insights into the people from my homeland at that period of time.
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