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Amsterdam Ascendant: A novel of rebellion, faith, and daring enterprise that launch a Golden Age


Amsterdam Ascendant was published by Aries Books on November 30, 2023. It is an action-adventure, family saga set during the tumultuous latter 1500s, and is the first book of a trilogy that will carry the story into Amsterdam's glorious 1600s Golden Age. Here are the reviews so far: 


"Amsterdam Ascendant is a rich, compelling work of historical fiction that follows the lives and relationships of lovers, traders, soldiers, immigrants, shipbuilders, and other fascinating individuals in the late 1500s. Several themes related to the book's history are smoothly integrated throughout the story, making it easy to lose track of time and become immersed in its historical world. This book is a must-read for everyone interested in the history of Europe, particularly Amsterdam." – Manhattan Book Review

"A well-researched historical novel with a very human core. The story proper opens dramatically with Maarten van der Voort and the Sea Beggars, essentially privateers, capturing a Spanish warship, which sets the tone for the next several years of back-and-forth fighting . . . The principal characters, each drawn with distinct personalities, include Maarten, the adopted son of saintly old Papa Hasbrouk, Maarten's wife Betje, and their two sons, Nicolaas and Dirck . . . Considering the many plot threads that could easily have become tangled, such as those following Dirck's social cluelessness, Nicolaas' womanizing, and Betje's endless fretting, Richards is to be congratulated for keeping each strand in place, all requiring just the right amount of our attention. Richards is a competent and earnest writer, not given to lyricism. But her love for the time and place is palpable, and this well-told tale leaves the reader eager for further chapters."– Kirkus Reviews


". . . inviting and rich in its actions and details. The vivid "you are here" feel of the story brings the times to life . . . the competing visions and experiences of a variety of characters create an especially realistic tone as events unfold. Whether describing the plundering of monasteries or the expansion of maps that place Amsterdam in perspective with the rest of the 1500s world, Richards employs an evocative, descriptive voice that brings these times and families to life. Amsterdam Ascendant's ability to capture an engrossing, changing social and political landscape in the 1500s makes it a top recommendation for libraries and readers who look to be immersed in the times and the people . . ."– Midwest Book Review





"Amsterdam's World: A novel of epic voyages, lost love, fortunes, and misfortune in the Golden Age"


This sequel to Amsterdam Ascendant will carry the Van der Voort saga through 1631. Though Maarten antic­ipates a glorious future at the dawn of the new century, inauspicious natural disasters abound and a criminal element emerges to threat­en their lives and livelihood. Catrijn segues into a new role, and Griet expands her painting ambitions. Maarten angles to become a mayor, while Dirck helps launch the innovative Dutch East India Company. Burgeoning financial markets unleash speculative fervor that threatens to ruin a vulnerable family member.

Slowly, religious intolerance again festers. When it explodes into violence, Maarten suffers repercussions and struggles to shield his grandchildren. Dirck and Catrijn are drawn to exotic ports and embark on a journey fraught with danger. Rolfe sets his sights on North America and sails with Henry Hudson, while others of the younger generation hope for careers other than seafaring trade, cre­ating opportunities and risks.


Final novel of the trilogy (no title yet)


In the final book of the trilogy, Maarten makes a momentous decision, his grandchildren come into their own, and Griet indulges in the blossoming art scene, while Rolfe and his plucky wife explore the virgin forests of North America in pursuit of trade opportuni­ties, where they encounter Indians, both friendly and hostile.