Thursday, April 11, 2002

Rivers of Gold: Conclusion of Tracie Peterson's Yukon Quest

The second part of "Yukon Quest," Ashes and Ice, left our Yukon friends separated, relationships broken. Miranda Colton fell from a boat during a storm, presumed dead. Due to miscommunication, Peter and his parents think they lost Grace, not Miranda.

Rivers of Gold begins with such circumstances and quickly adds a few twists, for a hard-to-put-down story filled with several timing incidents in which the friends almost find each other. Then the pieces all fall into place, for a nice conclusion that neatly ties all the loose ends for a "happily ever after" historical romance.

While the first novel focused on Grace Hawkins and the second on Karen Pierce, Rivers of Gold brings Miranda to the foreground. She did not die in the river after all, but was rescued by a British man and an older Indian woman. Teddy Davenport is a botanist, researching the plant life of the Yukon. He plans to publish a book of his findings, his way of continuing his father's work and legacy. Thus he has no time for "interruptions" such as the young woman that showed up at his cabin. Miranda, meanwhile, is determined to find her friends and let them know she is okay. Through their time spent together, though, Teddy and Miranda fall in love.

The story takes place in 1899, and the characters note the changes in the area: how different things are from when they arrived during the gold rush hey-day two years ago. Just as quickly as the gold seekers came, the now depart. Many have given up their dream of gold and desperately try to sell their equipment. Others are heading for Nome, Alaska, where gold has just been discovered, hoping again to strike it rich.

The bulk of the action takes place in and around Dawson, Yukon, the town the group was heading for in the previous book. Villain Martin Paxton is now gone, and so a new villain is supplied, from a minor character introduced in Ashes and Ice. This enemy is more realistic than Paxton, does not occupy the full story, and reflects the all-too-true violence and greed of the gold rush days.

Brief mention is made of historical events, including a fire in Dawson made worse by the firemen's strike, and the celebration for Queen Victoria. Overall, though, Rivers of Gold is a story about the people we have come to love from the previous two books and how their lives and problems finally fall into place. The characters learn of the true "rivers of Gold" -- faith in God and the joy of loved ones. Through trials and temptations of gold, the characters learn what really brings peace and riches; the gold that so many seek will not satisfy.

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