Gripping Historical Novel Captures Pre-Civil War Complexities

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Battlegrounds: Book 1 of 4 of the Matari Series by Stephen A. Carter

What’s it About?

Travel across turbulent seas, through twisting, hidden passageways, and over the bloody historic battlefield of the siege of Fort Sumter in the first installment of a series that will change the way readers think of the months leading up to the US Civil War.

Author Stephen A. Carter presents a gripping story of historical fiction that captures the complexity of the years preceding the US Civil War. He illustrates the greed, bloodlust and political manipulations of both the North and South that pushed America towards the abyss.

Battlegrounds (Outer Banks Publishing Group)the first in a comprehensive four-book series, illuminates the clandestine sites, controversial political figures and problematic popular sentiments that fractured the country. While Battlegrounds is notable for its propulsive plot and courageous characters, what makes it truly special is the portrayal of an African American protagonist who fights racism, brutality and mistreatment from adversaries in the Southern states as well as supposed allies in the North.

Evocative of Alex Haley’s epic novel Roots, this book honors the brave men and women who fight for freedom from slavery and speaks against the malevolence of racism that continues to manifest even in the present day.


Historian, teacher and master storyteller Stephen A. Carter takes readers across turbulent seas, through twisting, hidden passageways, and over the bloody historic battlefield of the siege of Fort Sumter in the first installment of a series that will change the way readers think of the months leading up to the US Civil War.

The book opens with a scene so horrifying and inhumane that one of the primary characters falls temporarily into a coma from merely witnessing the event. John Saxton is a young, white sailor from an immensely wealthy family. His father Thomas wants the boy to make his way in the world and trusts his guardianship to a courageous escaped slave and loyal Maasai warrior, Marcus Brown, known in Swahili as Matari, meaning Rainy Season.

After three years sailing the ocean, young Saxton and Marcus Brown are aboard a ship that helps intercept a slaving vessel off the coast of South Carolina. In a bid to escape, the fleeing ship lightens its burden of human cargo into the ocean as a horrified John Saxton looks on. This evil act, based on multiple historic events, is portrayed in heartbreaking detail and sets the precedent for what the villains of this particular tale are capable of inflicting on humanity.

Unsung Heroes

Battlegrounds dives headfirst into the hidden motivations, betrayals and dubious morals behind the war. Carter portrays both the benevolence and the controversy behind figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Allan Pinkerton. More importantly, the book honors the unsung heroes from the period via the aforementioned protagonist, Marcus Brown, a Black man who plays an important part in uncovering subsequent plots against the nation and his fellow men.

Years after returning the young John Saxton safely to his parents in Boston, Brown finds himself embroiled in a treasonous plan to smuggle large supplies of weapons and ammunition to rebel forces just before all-out war is declared.

The conspiracy, known as False Prophet, implicates political figures and powerful men both in the North and the South. Brown flees for his life and is hunted through the harbor, streets and sewer of New Orleans. Brown hatches a plan of his own to hit back and foil the plot, but he must decide if he can trust any of the white men from the North — who claim to support an end to slavery but have vast fortunes riding on the sustained economy of the Confederate states.

Courage, Loyalty & Resistance

From the years immediately preceding the Civil War, Carter paints each scene and scenario with thoughtful detail; describing in precise language the mechanisms and components of a cannon from the period before the fuse is lit and the explosive action commences. His attention to the implements and weapons used to make war pay off when the shells start to fly. You can smell the gunpowder and feel the explosive impact of each mortar shell through the pages of this wonderfully written story.

Battlegrounds is a story of adventure, with impressively rendered characters, interesting historical facts and a large dose of political intrigue. Stephen A. Carter gives us the initial installment of a four-book series that abounds with themes of courage, loyalty and resistance from the past that resonate in the modern day.Battlegrounds is captivating both for those interested in Civil War history as well as anyone who loves to cheer for an underdog.

Photo by Katherine Newcastle

About Stephen A. Carter:

Author Stephen A. Carter was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Upon graduating from the University of British Columbia in 1968, he taught high school history and geography for 21 years before touring Canada as a pen & ink artist. Thereafter he retired to draw, invent, play slo-pitch baseball and write prose and poetry.

Although a proud Canadian, over the past 25 years he has “wintered” in the southern states of America. It was there that his interest in American history grew and flowered. A stage 4 cancer survivor, he currently lives in New Westminster BC. He writes, cycles, reads and spends quality time with his fiancé.

Battlegrounds: Book 1 of 4 of the Matari Series by Stephen A. Carter

Publish Date: 8/17/2022

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Author: Stephen A. Carter

Page Count: 440 pages

Publisher: Outer Banks Publishing Group

ISBN: 9781736721841

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