It just shows what a fluent narrative style and frequent chapter breaks can do--this is the most animated of the new Forge of Freedom strike-offs, about on a par with the Landmarks for readability. Whereas the others cover the history of the colony in more depth and detail (and this is particularly deficient re the change from proprietorship to royal control), Mr. Mason offers lively descriptions of life among the Oronookos, the successful small planters, and among the tobacco aristocracy, with glimpses of the hardy trappers and farmers on the northwestern frontier. (Aptly, one bibliographic reference is to Tunis' Colonial Living.) Slavery, however, is explained in a manner that smacks of justification. Altogether it's a sanguine account, with more attention to domestic matters and dramatic incidents than to underlying discontents. But the outlines are clear, the events vivid.