Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt
It has been a while since I last read some of John Jakes’ works but there was a time in the ’70s and ’80s when I read just about everything as soon as it was published. I was still in college when I first started seeing a book titled The Bastard on the book racks around town. This book was shortly followed by The Rebels and The Seekers. I did not actually read them though until I was living in New Hampshire in late ’75 with my sister and her then husband. Over the next few years as I moved on into the USAF, I would pick up the new books of the Kent Family Chronicles as they were published. It was simply amazing how the members of the “Kent Family” always managed to be on the periphery of so many historical events and friends with so many historical figures. Why, you’d have thought they were named Forrest Gump or something!
Jakes’ wiki intro is only one sentence:
John William Jakes (born March 31, 1932) is an American writer, best known for American historical fiction. He has used the pen name Jay Scotland.
One interesting fact I discovered about Jakes from his wiki is this:
During this time, he was a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of heroic fantasy authors founded in the 1960s and led by Lin Carter. The eight original members were self-selected by fantasy credentials alone. They sought to promote the popularity and respectability of the “Sword and Sorcery” subgenre (such as Brak the Barbarian stories by Jakes).
I had not been aware of Jakes early membership in SAGA although once I started reading The Kent Family Chronicles and saw his list of books, I realized that I had read Brak the Barbarian and a couple of its sequels when I was in college.
North and South is a 1980s trilogy of bestselling novels by John Jakes which take place before, during, and after the American Civil War. The saga tells the story of the enduring friendship between Orry Main of South Carolina and George Hazard of Pennsylvania, who become best friends while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point but later find themselves and their families on opposite sides of the war. The slave-owning Mains are rural gentleman planters while the big-city Hazards live by manufacturing and industry, their differences reflecting the divisions between North and South that eventually led to the Civil War.
The North and South trilogy also became a trilogy of TV mini-series (North and South, North and South, Book II (the second book in the trilogy is titled Love and War), and Heaven and Hellstarring Patrick Swayze and James Read.
The Bastard, The Rebels and The Seekers were all made into TV movies in 1978 and 1979. I have no recollection of even hearing about these movies before but looking through the cast list, there are some quite interesting names.
Looking through the list of Jakes’ books there are some other titles beyond those I have mentioned that I have read and enjoyed – I, Barbarian about a romance in the time of Genghis Kahn, King’s Crusader set during the Crusades with Richard the Lionheart, When the Star Kings Die, and Veils of Salome.
JohnJakes.com gives Jakes’ full bio as well as some discussion on his various series and standard author web site fare.