In the early years of the 17th century, North America is much as it has been for the previous five thousand years--a vast land of seemingly endless primeval wilderness populated by an intricate network of tribal cultures. Although these nations live in graceful harmony with their environment, their relations with each other are a bit more uneasy. All it will take to upset the balance is an intrusion from the outside. On a spring day in April of 1607, three diminutive ships bearing 103 men sail into this world from their distant home, the island kingdom of England, three thousand miles to the east across a vast ocean. On behalf of their sponsor, the royally chartered Virginia Company, they are seeking to establish a cultural, religious, and economic foothold on the coast of what they regard as the New World. The lead ship of the tiny flotilla is called the Susan Constant. Shackled below decks in her brig is a rebellious 27-year-old named John Smith, destined to be hanged for insubordination as soon as the ship reaches land. A veteran of countless European wars, Smith is a soldier of fortune. He is too talented and popular to have his neck stretched by his own people, and is freed by Captain Christopher Newport soon after the Susan Constant drops anchor. As Captain Newport knows--and the colonists will soon discover--surviving in this unknown wilderness will require the services of every able-bodied man--particularly one of Smith's abilities. Though they don't realize it at the time, Newport and his band of British settlers have landed in the midst of a sophisticated Native American empire ruled by the powerful chieftain Powhatan. To the colonists, it may be a new world. But to Powhatan and his people, it's an ancient world--and the only one they have ever known. The English struggle from the beginning, unable--or, in some cases, stubbornly unwilling--to fend for themselves. Smith, searching for assistance from the local tribesmen, chances upon a young woman who at first seems to be more woodland sprite than human being. A willful and impetuous young woman whose family and friends affectionately call her "Pocahontas"--or "playful one"--she is the favorite of Powhatan's children. Before long a bond develops between Smith and Pocahontas, a bond so powerful that it transcends friendship or even romance.
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