Friday, 31 October 2008

The Spanish Bit Saga #13

by Don Coldsmith
Bantam, July 1990

Once he was Jean Cartier, a French explorer. Now he is Woodchuck, a proud warrior of the Elk-Dog People whose mission is to introduce his son, Red Feather, to the crucial business of trading. To exchange furs for Spanish weapons of steel, father and son journey through hostile territory peopled by unpredictable tribes. But a warning from a former enemy makes Woodchuck realize too late that the real danger comes from his own countrymen. Soon Red Feather lies near death, wounded by the French and rescued by a beautiful Indian maiden, and his father’s only hope is to elude the Europeans before he too becomes a victim of vengeance.

This book continues, and ties up, a number of unfinished threads from previous books. Don Coldsmith keeps the reader guessing as to the true nature of the French’s mission and the book builds to an exciting chase through the desert.

Don Coldsmith’s superb writing skills create a gripping sense of urgency in Woodchucks race to find his wounded son. In these scenes he adds doubt and questions such as; will the French be hunting Red Feather for horse theft? Why are the French here? Are they here to try to capture Woodchuck who is a French deserter? And worst of all is the fear that Red Feather could be dying, that Woodchuck will be too late to save him.

It is only when The People are very near to home that Don Coldsmith reveals why the French are really here. A revelation that leads to tragedy and hints at a vast change for the coming generations of The People in how they will live their lives.

Another hit in this excellent series, although I would suggest that a newcomer to these books would have their enjoyment of this book greatly enhanced by reading the earlier numbers first.

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