Small Fires in the Sun by Herbert R. Metoyer, Jr. (Cane River Media, 412 pp., $25, paper) is a novel based on historical events, but is wholly fictitious. The book centers on the life of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the founder of Natchitoches, the oldest city in Louisiana.
This is a complex and lengthy historical novel. The cover tells us that it is “a historical, romantically enhanced adventure novel” dealing with the three primary cultures of colonial Louisiana: The French, the Natchez—an Indian tribe—and the slaves.
The author is a retired military officer and a helicopter pilot who served all over the world, including in Vietnam. I’m sure that the experience and wisdom he gained during his military career informed and influenced this novel, but it never gets anywhere near the Vietnam War.
It should be read by those who love colonial adventure and have an interest in the interaction of a variety of cultural and racial forces in America. This novel tells an interesting and spell-binding story and makes those three cultures of Louisiana come alive.
Fans of the Benjamin January novels of Barbara Hambly set in 19th century New Orleans are likely to enjoy this historical novel, too.
It is refreshing for this reader occasionally to step away from reading about the Vietnam War.