In The Quest of the Sultana, author J. L. Rothdiener succeeds at combining history and fiction. This Christian historical novel begins with a Northern concert pianist and a Southern belle meeting in 1859, when emotions were already running at a high pitch and war seemed a distinct possibility.
Barrett von Weber and Brooke Fortner meet at Harpers Ferry, when he rescues her from possible harm at the hands of John Brown and his sons. As they fall in love during the next year, her youngest brother displays his hatred for any Northerner and his obsession with war.
Although Barrett appears to be simply a Christian musician, he is also an expert marksman who practices Kung Fu, an heir to a major German winery and a well-educated, multicultural student of history. He and Brooke marry in June of 1860, and are traveling in Europe when the Civil War breaks out.
Barrett feels the need to return to America where his talents are needed to train Union soldiers in the use of new weapons. Throughout the war, this fictional character crosses paths with famous historical figures, new technologies and real economic occurrences of the time.
Rothdiener stays true to history while weaving a story of two people and the people they love. The plot revolves around the New Havens Arms Company (the maker of the Henry repeating rifle), Andersonville Prison and the Sultana. His extensive research is evident in both plot and character development.
The Quest of the Sultana leaves the reader pondering the futility of war and the moral quandaries that arise as well as the atrocities and the heartaches suffered by both sides.
At Harper’s Ferry, Barrett remarks to General Robert E. Lee, “It is hard to bring the future to men who are stuck in the past.” I am still contemplating that statement.
HE WAS A MAN OF CHIVALRY, JUSTICE, AND LOVE...
Brooke is the daughter of a wealthy Southern landowner. Barrett is a hymnist and a renowned concert musician from the North. They’re from different worlds, but somehow fate has conspired to bring them together.
When the tensions between North and South reach the breaking point, the entire nation is swept into the struggle that will one day be known as the Civil War. Brother pitted against brother. Father against son. Families torn apart, and futures shattered beyond any hope of repair.
Now, separated by distance, and blood, and pain, Barrett and Brooke must find out if their love is stronger than war.