In 1770’s France, three men prepare to embark on a journey to a new land. Artist François Gervaise, teen youth Henri Monange, and Father Pierre de Béhaine answer the call to serve the Church and embark to a mysterious Far East land called Annam.
Father Pierre plans to share the one true religion of Catholicism with the natives of this new land. He enlists the assistance of François, who in turn recruits Henri as an aide.
Visions of obedient conversion leading a smooth path to French colonialism are soon dashed by reality. Annam’s truth contains civil war, natural disasters and widespread famine. Le Colonial follows François, Henri and Pierre as they attempt to adapt and survive in these beautiful and dangerous surroundings.
This Kien Nguyen novel is a stunning work of historical fiction. He paints a vivid picture of the land that would eventually become Vietnam. The history of Annam is complex, but the author successfully illustrates its colorful past. The characters are passionate and ambitious. Their individual drives make for an intriguing plot.
As royal duties shift between natives, it’s occasionally difficult to remember who is related to whom, but that doesn’t stop the pages from turning. Le Colonial is proof that history makes a wonderful backdrop for compelling fiction.