Once There Was Fire: A Novel of Old Hawaii, Stephen Shender

The Hawaiian people lived in an isolated Eden and fought over it for centuries. When pale strangers with ‘pointed heads’, strange ‘skins’, and magical weapons came from beyond the  horizon on ‘floating islands’, the Hawaiians thought they were gods. One man understood these ‘gods’ were men, and that their arrival had changed everything for his people. He would go on to defeat his rivals, unite the Hawaiian Islands, and found a new kingdom at the crossroads of the Pacific Ocean. His name was Kamehameha. Once There Was Fire brings a little-understood, historically remote era to life through the words and actions of its memorable characters: Kamehameha, his strong-willed and rebellious consort, Ka’ahumanu, his favorite brother, Keli’imaika’i, and Kamehameha’s sons, nephews, comrades in arms, haole advisers, and bitter enemies. The novel invites readers to see Hawaii of the mid-18th and early 19th centuries as the old Hawaiians themselves might have seen and experienced it on the cusp of their passage from splendid isolation to the wider world.

Once There Was Fire: A Novel of Old Hawaii has to be one of my favorite historical fiction novels of all time. I understand that this may be a bold statement, but if you choose to read this enchanting book you will understand why I believe this. Once There Was Fire is a novel that enchanted me from the very first opening pages, this is thanks to the inclusion of beautiful maps of Hawaii as well as quotes taken from Hawaiian mythology. If you lovely readers know anything about me by now you will know that I love mythology, in fact, besides reading and reviewing, it is my biggest passion in life so to read this, before the main story even started I was enthralled. Stephen Shender is the excellent author of Once There Was Fire and the man I have to thank for enchanting me with his endearing words and captivating me with his stunning, timeless story that is worthy of being read by everybody.

Once There Was Fire: A Novel of Old Hawaii is a novel that is hard to define for many reasons. The book is undoubtedly a historical fiction novel but the history within the book is all true and based on fact so that it could be read as nonfiction or even an autobiographical account of the star of the novel and real-life historical ruler – King Kamehameha. King Kamehameha is also known as Kamehameha the Great who was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii and his life is interesting as well as life-changing for Hawaii. However, Once There Was Fire is defined as a novel and so I will inform you lovely readers on what this epic, sometimes heart-wrenching story is about.

The story of Once There Was Fire is narrated, in the first person by the nephew of Kamehameha. He perfectly recounts the story of Kamehameha’s life, starting from his birth, throughout childhood and then to adulthood. The reader will follow Kamehameha’s journey in great detail which examines his life and the events in it which lead to him becoming the first King/ruler of Hawaii as well as how he was able to unify the islands. During the 18th and 19th century, ‘pale’ men would arrive at the island and in this period of time, Kamehameha faced great struggles so the fact that the reader gets to be informed of his journey and all that occurred it simply exceptional.

Once There Was Fire is a gripping novel and this is for many reasons but the prominent reason is the author’s – Stephen Shender – and his phenomenal talent at writing as well as weaving many poignant themes throughout his story. Shender supremely takes his reader on a journey through Old Hawaii and makes the reader feel a host of different emotions as themes such as love, adventure, rivalry and war are all explored and weaved into the story perfectly. Shender was flawlessly able to do this as never once did these themes and his writing feel forced, instead his book was the perfect combination of many qualities which in turn made one outstanding book.

Stephen Shender is not only a talent for his descriptive, and beautiful prose but also his knowledge. The knowledge of Shender’s that he manages to lace throughout his book is absolutely incredible; I admire the author so much for taking his time to thoroughly research the subject and informing the reader of all that happened in Hawaii centuries ago in the most entertaining, moving ways.

As Once There Was Fire: A Novel of Old Hawaii is a sensational, gripping, moving novel that is laced with phenomenal and engrossing history, I have no choice but to award this stellar book Five Stars. If you are a reader who adores factual history as well as moving literature then Once There Was Fire is a book that would suit your reading needs perfectly so please, read this excellent book and get lost in beautiful Hawaii!

Thank you so much for reading book lovers! I appreciate it so much and love discussing wonderful books with all of you so please, comment below and let me know your thoughts on Once There Was Fire; do you see yourself reading this book? Let me know all of those brilliant thoughts of yours below! Thank you so much again for reading!

Goodbye for now book lovers,

P.S. Here is a preview of the book for all of you lovely readers to enjoy! Please have a read of the preview and if you find that you have loved what you have read then all you need to do is click the Buy on Amazon button and it will take you straight to the book on Amazon U.S.! If you are in the U.K. then below I have attached a link to the book for the Amazon U.K. I have also attached some links about the author and this wonderful book! Thank you so much again for reading book lovers, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this book.

Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Goodreads

Stephen Shender: Website / Blog

Thank you so much again for reading!

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2 comments

Reply

Mahalo, Aimee, for reviewing my novel and bringing it to your followers’ attention. Your passion for books and desire to encourage others to share it shines through in your writing.

Thank you so much Stephen! Your kind words have made my day. Your book is incredible and I adored every moment of it so thank you!

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