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Publisher: 1 September2015 by Random House Australia
Pages: 432 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 5 crowns
From bestselling author Nicole Alexander comes an epic novel of bravery, loyalty and impossible love that takes the reader on a spellbinding journey from the streets of early Sydney to the heart of Australia's wild, untamed lands.
New South Wales, 1838, and settlers in search of fertile country are venturing far outside the colony. Literally cutting a swathe through the bush with their bare hands, they lay claim to territory beyond government jurisdiction - and the reach of the law.
As she accepts a position on one such farm, seventeen-year-old Kate Carter is unaware she is entering a land of outlaws, adventurers and murderous natives.
Because the first people of this new world will no longer accept the white man's advance, and retaliatory attacks on both sides have made it a frontier on the brink of war.
Into Kate's path comes Bronzewing, a young white man schooled by a settler family yet raised within an Aboriginal tribe. Caught between two worlds, Bronzewing strives to protect his adopted people and their vanishing civilisation.
But as he and Kate will discover, 'beyond the outer limits' is a beautiful yet terrifying place, where it's impossible to know who is friend and who is enemy . . .
"This land belonged to others while in contrast the settlers tried to impose their will on a mysterious place and its people. No good could come of such behaviour."
Let me state it from the outset, I loved 'Wild Lands'. This was my first Nicole Alexander book and I was most impressed. The descriptions are rich and vivid; the characters true and deep; the story strong and heartbreaking. In essence this is a tale of early life in the 1800s in Australia in which white settlers began to expand their habitation beyond the coast and the heartbreak of the Aboriginal people seeing it taken by force.
"The mountains are a buffer from the vast wilds on the other side. The thought of all that immeasurable space stretching towards a setting sun intrigued Kate. 'What's out there?' 'Natives, escaped convicts, bushrangers. I pity a man who must travel to the beyonds."
The story really flowed as characters, settings and scenarios came together and held my attention throughout all of the 400 plus pages. Initially its a story of two journeys - Kate and Adam - as both the white and Aboriginal perspectives are explored. I was in eager anticipation of when their paths would finally cross. Kate is such a strong character you cannot help but admire her.
"Kate only saw two roads that could be taken: abide by her decision to leave and start a new life, whatever that may be, or remain where she was and live as a hypocrite."
And I have to admit that Adam's journey was particularly moving:
"The stars were his ceiling, the warm earth his bed and he was subject to no-one."
"Adam strides two worlds while we sit safely within ours."
Nicole Alexander's knowledge of the Australian outback is rich and luscious. She details the beauty and danger in words than easily bring to mind the range of locations presented. The history contained here is well researched and keeps you guessing to see what would happen next when fictional characters are poured into the mix. Even if you are familiar with Australian history or someone who would like to delve deeper into the 'Wild Lands' of Australia and the whole black versus white issue, then I urge you to consider this book.
"All people must realise that assimilation is the only way. 'But how can we all live together if we're not prepared to see another's point of view?"
I found it to be a really well thought out novel exploring the good and bad in both sides with characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading. In fact, I wish there was more, for I would love to learn 'where to from here' for many of the characters. And as for Kate's final speech, it's fabulously delivered to those men:
"The law?" Kate spat the word out. "What law, sir?" .... "That is quite enough Kate...you are overwrought and should return to the house immediately". "No, it is not enough. It is by far not enough." .....
"You are choosing a criminal over justice, the civilised over the uncivilised world."
"For a long time now the two have been blurred to me."
This story is really very powerful and I highly recommend adding it to your reading list.