The ‘Storm of Time’ is the second novel in Eleanor Dark’s trilogy ‘The Timeless Land’. It opens in 1799, in Sydney Cove, three years after Governor Arthur Phillip left the settlement. This novel covers the period from 1799 to 1808, under governors John Hunter, Philip Gidley King and William Bligh. In 1799, eleven years after European settlement, the settlements have expanded. Famine continues to be a problem as flood and drought hinder efforts towards self-sufficiency. An influx of Irish rebels convicted for political crimes adds to the complexity of the issues faced by the settlement where a battle between the New South Wales Corps and successive governors over the rum trade continues.
The Mannion family are established on the land, supported by convict labour. Ellen Prentice and her children are part of Stephen Mannion’s household at Beltrasna. The Mannion sons, Patrick and Miles are intended to reside only temporarily in New South Wales: they will in time return ‘home’. Stephen Mannion remarries, Conor Moore from Ireland and brings her to Beltrasna. And Johnny Prentice lives in the bush, preferring to be with the natives, harbouring a deep grudge against Stephen Mannion.
‘At night the land took back the silence of its centuries, and lay passive as it had done since the dawn of time under the indifferent stars.’
‘Storm of Time’ is a more complex novel than ‘The Timeless Land’. As European settlement expands, government of the colony becomes more complex. Tensions between convicts and masters, between the Aboriginals and the Europeans are depicted well. As is the ongoing battle between the New South Wales Corps and the governor.
I enjoyed the way in which Ms Dark bought her characters to life in their historic setting. While much of the focus is on the European settlers – the fictional Mannions and Johnny Prentice, and the historical figures such as William Bligh, John Macarthur and Samuel Marsden, the Aboriginal community is more peripheral. It’s impossible not to feel sorry for the (fictional) Dilboong taken into service by Stephen Mannion. I first read this novel during the 1970s and I am finding this reread rewarding. I am currently reading the final book in the trilogy ‘No Barrier’. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this trilogy to anyone interested in fiction set in Australia’s colonial past.
Book two of The Timeless Land trilogy, The Storm of Time continues Eleanor Dark's sweeping saga of colonial Sydney under governors Hunter, King and Bligh. Sydney Cove, 1799, and three years since Governor Phillip departed. Against a background of continuing convict settlement, hunger, rebellion and the terrifying force of a barely understood land, the saga of Ellen Prentice and the Mannion family continues. Stephen Mannion marries the lovely Conor Moore and brings her back for Ellen to serve. Johnny Prentice goes bush - and re-emerges for one last confrontation with his old master.
About the Author
Eleanor Dark was born and educated in Sydney. In 1922 she married Dr Eric Dark and soon after settled with him in Katoomba. She published stories and verse throughout the 1920s, and her first novel, Slow Dawning, was published in 1932. Her other novels include Prelude to Christopher, Return to Coolami, Sun Across the Sky, Waterway, The Little Company and Lantana Lane.