All God’s Children is a stunner. In this beautifully written historical epic, westward expansion, race relations and the nation’s mythical place as 'a shining city on a hill' collide in an explosive, lyrical reckoning. Gwyn’s strategy of telling [this story] using first-person for his white protagonist and third for his Black, not only heightens the suspense but underscores their disparate worth on the American scale ... Gwyn writes fresh, vigorous sentences, and many scenes pulse with tension, tenderness or both. He’s as adept at describing battles as his characters’ mercurial changes
All God's Children is about human beings, Americans in all their terrible and transcendent individuality, bravely insisting upon pursuing happiness, expanding the meaning of that term in the philosophical, eighteenth-century Enlightenment sense. Duncan and Cecelia are richly, distinctively drawn ... Chronological, parallel narratives, set in some of the most formative and transformative years of two young republics, eventually bring Duncan and Cecelia together, surrounded with the supporting cast they deserve. Gwyn provides complex backstories that inform his characters motivations and actions, though in the process he indulges in an unnecessarily lengthy exposition on the origins of Duncan’s compatriots in his ranging company. This is the only falter in the otherwise quick, smooth, steady pacing ... Gwyn possesses a distinctive voice that is, nevertheless, a recognizably Western rhythm ... His language is equal parts sophisticated imagery, evocative simile, and folksy. Dialogue is enriched with a smart, wholly unexpected humor that you will learn to look forward to with bright anticipation.
Duncan tells his own story ... His account is vivid with details of how to light a fire with a spindle and fireboard and the distinctions among a flintlock rifle, a longbore, and a five-shot Colt revolver. It is peppered with pungent period terms ... Unlike Duncan, Cecelia does not get to tell her own story ... It as if, wary of the Cultural Appropriation Police, Gwyn does not dare simulate the voice of a Black Texan woman. Cecelia, who models herself after the wily Odysseus she read about in Virginia, is a fascinating figure and might have been even more remarkable if allowed to speak for herself. As historical fiction, All God’s Children seems obliged to provide cameo appearances by familiar personages ... But Gwyn is also capable of inventing vibrant minor characters, including a flamboyant Spaniard with a fondness for Wordsworth who, abducted by Barbary pirates and forced into slavery, eventually makes his way to Texas.