Acclaimed Western novelist Kerry Newcomb illustrates one of the darkest pages of American history in this passionate saga about culture, conflict, love, and war. He portrays the tumultuous and hostile atmosphere of the mid-19th century as war breaks out between the Cheyenne Indians and the white settlers. Panther Burn, a brave Cheyenne, and Jubal Bragg, a revengeful militia man, find themselves face to face in a tragic struggle between two proud cultures.
©1985 Kerry Newcomb (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
I was extremely interested in the subject matter when I bought this book, but found the plot development and character development left me feeling very disappointed. The book skips entire decades in the lives of the characters, completely bypassing what I would have looked forward to as the most interesting part of the story: how Panther Burn, the last Cheyenne War Chief, kept fighting and defied the Union soldiers and refused to surrender until forced to do so in order to save what remained of his people. You could have made an entire novel just about that. That is the story that would have drawn me into this book wholeheartedly, and it was completely ignored. Also never mentioned again was what ever became of such major characters as Panther Burn's parents. They just sort of disappear halfway through the story. The main antagonist, Jubal Bragg, starts out as being someone who was halfway interesting but by the 2nd half of the novel his character had faded into a hollow shell and I lost interest in ever seeing truth or justice for him. The women in this book are blushing virgins who inspire men to fall in love with them by virtue of their beauty alone, without need of any actual depth to their characters. And it seems that Michael Spirit Wolf, son of Panther Burn, who was destined to bridge the void between the Cheyenne and the white man... who was supposed to have played a crucial role in securing the future of his people.... we never get to find out how or IF he fulfilled that destiny. Overall I was bitterly disappointed that most of the major themes that were hinted at and built up to were never brought to any kind of conclusion. I am of the old-fashioned belief that all questions should be answered by the end of a story. However, the ending of this book was very moving and poetic, which is the only reason I even rated this novel at 3 stars. Maybe my questions are addressed in other novels by this author, but after this experience I don't think I'll be reading/listening to any more of his stories.
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