Volume I of MERION MERCIES — the New World Saga, Karakung initiates the epic historical fiction series, and traces the surprising, and surprisingly enduring, origins of one of North America’s earliest colonies.

Prologue: Aboard the “Fama, Swedish colonists depart from Stockholm on August 16, 1642, their fifth expedition to the New World.  Joined by the smaller “Svanen” in Göteborg, the ships spend arduous months at sea — intercepted by warring English, brief stopovers in the Purple Isles and Antigua, then a storm-tossed final leg that cripples one vessel — before arriving on February 15, 1643, to replenish the Crown’s undermanned New Sweden colony along the present-day Delaware River.  Under the direction of the tempestuous new governor — Johan Printz, a disgraced cavalry officer of gargantuan appetite and autocratic demeanor, seeking redemption for battlefield failings — freemen and soldiers push north and west along the Schuylkill River, establishing farms and a fort to trade for beaver pelts with the indigenous Lenni Lenape.

Pioneering Swedes and Finns colonize the Schuylkill (Hidden) River’s west bank, in conflict with the encroaching Dutch, in commerce with the native tribes.  Some settlers are freemen or war widows seeking clean starts, while others are Scandinavian lawbreakers sentenced to Crown exile.  Together, they must carve sustenance out of a raw wilderness, sharing frontier challenges, hardships, and serendipities.  Gradually, sufficiencies increase, allowing fresh dreams and aspirations to take root on these once-foreign shores.

But two kingdoms cannot occupy the same soil.  Defenses are erected, more to protect land claims and trade routes from continual Hollander incursions than against the generally welcoming Delaware Indians.  Livestock are a premium commodity, cows few and horses precious.  Of necessity, farmers pool their resources.  To many — especially gaining freedom upon a temperate, bountiful, undeveloped continent — New Sweden equals a new Eden, even as life is elemental and contact with Europe is sporadic.  For over a decade, the governor, garrisons, and settlers improvise, staving off Nature and the more populous Dutch colony to the north, until the combustible Peter Stuyvesant mounts the hemisphere’s largest-ever naval assault.  Ultimately, the military shock-and-awe by New Netherland prevails, ending Scandinavian autonomy.

Even before publication, Karakung has earned recognition as a Category 4 finalist for the Europa Nostra Award/European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage, the first-ever nominated project accepted from a non-European Union citizen (not affiliated with a European university or cultural institution), and one of the few novels ever considered, thanks to its rich, accurate, layered portrayal of the mid-17th century pan-European colonists who leave the Old World for the promise of the New World.

The MERION MERCIES series then continues with Above the Falls of Skool Kill (v.II), which heralds the British conquest; The Heavens Serene (v.III), celebrating the pioneering Welsh; and beyond…