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Opportunities: Jamie Leith in Darién

826 pages11 hours


In July 1698, five ships sailed from Scotland on a secret mission; a final hail-Mary attempt to save both their economy and their country.
Their goal? To colonize Panama, set up a new trade route overland into the Pacific, and change the history of the world forever.
Street-smart teenager, Jamie Leith, inadvertently stows away, becoming shackled to the adventure.
This is his story, and much more.

This is a story that should have been told centuries ago.It should have been trumpeted from the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, and proudly broadcast to the world. But it was not. Perhaps due to the nature of its end, the Scottish Darien story has languished at the periphery of history, covered in a nation's disgrace, and wrapped in the blankets of shame, purposely hidden.

The Darien Scheme was a world-changing event that few people today even know existed. The Scots raised half the actual capital in Scotland for the scheme, confident that they would dominate world trade. It was as large a leap of faith as to set a colony on Mars today.

I am not spoiling the ending when I tell you that the Darien venture did not turn out as the Scots had envisaged. The loss of such an amount of Scots revenue forced the 'union of the crowns', and Scotland was swallowed by its neighbor, England. Directly because of the Darien Scheme, Great Britain was born. A country that would assert itself across the globe until it had grown into the biggest Empire in the world.

The Darien Scheme actually happened, and most of the events portrayed in my book are researched historical fact. Ship names and their sailings, captains and council members, events, battles, and major storyline are as accurate as I could manage.

Opportunities, however, is a work of fiction, and although I have told the Darien story as close to history as I could, it should be read as a work of fiction.

Essentially, my book is a compromise; the events and characters portrayed herein are either researched or imaginary and I will leave it to you to work out which.

I would rather, of course, have you caught up in my story, and forget everything else.

The book is seen through Jamie's eyes, and I hope as you read, you will find in him, the spirit of my nation; the guile, the grit and determination, the pride and the strength of character that I feel in myself today.

I am Scottish and proud of it.

Ian Hall

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