I had heard great things about John Jakes but for whatever reason, I had not read one of his books before. Epic historical fiction is usually right up my alley, and I enjoyed this first book of the famous North/South trilogy. I don't know if this is the best comparison, but this book reminded me of Wilbur Smith, with the action of a Smith novel replaced with political discussions. I don't mean for that to sound negative, as I enjoyed the discussion of slavery and states' rights that would have dominated social culture in the 1840s and 1850s. I think parts of the novel were stretched out a bit too long, and (like Smith) some of the characters were either too good or too evil, but overall I enjoyed the read and look forward to the rest of the trilogy.