The Coachman

Roger A. Smith


Rian Krieger's Journey - Book 2 Philadelphia, 1837. On six occasions, twelve-year-old tomboy Rian Krieger has escorted self-emancipated fugitives to the next station on their flight from enslavement. When Rian’s father,...

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Rian Krieger's Journey - Book 2

Philadelphia, 1837. On six occasions, twelve-year-old tomboy Rian Krieger has escorted self-emancipated fugitives to the next station on their flight from enslavement. When Rian’s father, factory owner Otto Krieger, learns that she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, he renews his plans to send her to a finishing school in Switzerland. This is a fate Rian cannot abide, as it means she would have to wear a dress all the time. 

The Workshop of the World. Philadelphia bustles with commerce. The siren song of increased prosperity prompts Otto to make bold decisions. Then, the Panic of 1837 descends, strangling businesses and straining the social and economic fabric of the city. Otto’s factory and home are at risk of foreclosure. 

Otto’s problems are potentially resolved when two visitors from Tsarist Russia enter his factory. Rian must decide: Can the Russians’ mission help her solve her Switzerland dilemma as well?


As authentic as they come with an eye on the past and future of historical fiction. You’re immediately and irrevocably thrust into pre-war Philadelphia. Switching back and forth between perspectives, in the tradition of Faulkner, you’ll find yourself grasping for the next page to find out what might befall our characters. Impressively, Smith continues to teach an old genre new tricks.Matthew Di Paoli, author of Holliday, winner of the Wilbur and Niso Smith Adventure Writing Prize. 

Roger A. Smith’s The Coachman is historical fiction at its finest. In Book Two of the monumental nine book series, protagonist Rian Krieger continues her thoughtful, thrilling, and consequential journey. With an informative Author’s Notes, this is the perfect series for history buffs, plot aficionados, and character-driven literature fans alike.Kate Dike Blair - author of the historical novel, The Hawthorne Inheritance

Roger A. Smith writes with authority and exquisite attention to detail, vividly capturing not only the social and political conflict of the era but also the warring desires and goals of his characters in this well-wrought historical novel.Ginny Fite, award-winning author of The Physics of Things

 Historical fiction requires not only a rich imagination, it must come from a firm foundation of understanding the past. I was impressed by the well-rounded characters, moving plot and vivid descriptions of early Nineteenth Century life in Philadelphia. While I will avoid giving away any details, I would put this book on a par with some of Horatio Alger’s novels of mid-nineteenth century New York. Another series that came to mind as I worked my way through The Coachman is Jack Finney’s time travel novels.Mark Carlson, CL, ACS - Historical Novels Society - Military Writers Society of America

In Roger A. Smith's captivating novel The Coachman, echoes of the tumultuous landscape of the 1830s reverberate across a panoply of characters. As the Underground Railroad whispers tales of courage and survival, the Krieger family’s industrial empire faces challenges that threaten its foundations. Amid personal struggles and societal upheaval, young Rian Krieger defies convention to navigate a world of gender expectations, embarking on an astonishing journey to Russia.Maryka Biaggio, award-winning author of Parlor Games, Eden Waits, The Point of Vanishing, and The Model Spy.

With a colorful cast of characters, Roger Smith creates an exciting adventure story in the vibrant and growing Philadelphia of 1837, a center of industry and a crossroads in the fight for emancipation. Jules, a free Black man, struggles to maintain his new business and his freedom, Seamus, a young Irish American man, fights for a place at the table, and Rian, a bright young woman, seeks to move beyond the prescribed role for women to make her own life.—Nancy Kilgore, author of Bitter Magic, Wild Mountain, and Sea Level

by Roger A, Smith
Page Count: 340
Trim Size: 6 X 9
Publish Date: October 31, 2023
Imprint: Milford House Press
Genre: Historical
FICTION / Historical / General
FICTION / LGBTQ+ / Transgender
FICTION / African American & Black / Historical

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Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
Why I Like Historical Fiction

One of the things I loved about reading this book was that I learned new things while also being engrossed in a story. I really enjoyed The Conductor (first book in the series) and was excited to read more about Rian's journey, but I liked this one even more. I liked how we learned more about the characters and I really enjoyed learning details about history that I wasn't expecting. The combination of a riveting plot, engaging historical events, and characters that I am loving getting to know made this book a great read. Can't wait for the next one!

The Coachman -- a headlong dive into an exciting story

The Coachman—the second volume in Roger Smith’s planned nine-book series—builds and accelerates to a stunning, exciting climax that leaves the reader breathless! The book continues the story of Rian Krieger, a 12-year-old girl growing up in Philadelphia in the 1830s. Smith has a gift for character and narrative, and the book – and the series-- are benefitted by the fact that he is not only a writer (and a talented one, at that) but also a professional historian. His background gives the story real depth and detail (unlike many historical novels that focus on the narrative with just an occasional reference to period or custom). I highly recommend The Coachman (and of course, its predecessor The Conductor) to all discerning readers. You’re in for a real treat!

another captivating story by Roger Smith

After reading The Conductor, I could not wait to get my hands on The Coachman, and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more! Simply put, Roger Smith is a master of his craft. He meticulously weaves historical details into a compelling story with vivid and relatable characters. In addition to becoming invested in these characters, I learned so much about early 19th century Philadelphia that I could not have learned from a history book. Though a historical novel, this book is relevant and timely. I have genuinely grown fond of the characters and cannot wait to read about the next chapter in Rian Krieger’s journey.

Journey Through History and Today

The Coachman is a compelling work of historical fiction and continues the story of Rian Kreiger from Roger Smith’s first book, The Conductor. The Coachman is both a wonderful history of mid 19th century America and an insightful, contemporary saga filled with themes and lessons that resonate today. Mark Twain once said that “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” The Coachman rhymes! As our nation continues to aspire to its founding ideals, Rian’s story serves to remind us all that we all share in this journey with her. Highly recommended! Worthy of a future Masterpiece Theater series on PBS!

Another Engaging Read

After being captivated by Book 1, The Conductor, I was delighted to continue Rian Krieger’s journey with her in Book 2. Now 13, and undaunted as ever, Rian is determined to continue her exciting but dangerous participation in the Underground Railroad, much to her father’s chagrin.

With her usual cunning, Rian manages to stow away on a ship and talk her uncle into taking her to Russia with him on his business trip. All this to avoid being sent by her father to a boarding school for girls in Switzerland.

Rian revels in her new identity as a young coachman as she and her uncle and cousin end up living at the Winter Palace for a time. The intrigue and mystery continue with the burning of the Winter Palace and Rian’s being brought by the Tsar to be his son’s companion.

Roger Smith deftly interweaves fiction with nonfiction as he makes history come alive. And his skillful character development engenders a fondness for the characters, especially Rian’s father Otto, the self-emancipated slave Jules Freeman, and Rian’s Irish cousin Seamus.

Like I feel with a riveting Netflix series, I anxiously await the release of Book 3!