QUEST FOR THE WHITE BULL
By Don Coldsmith
Bantam Domain, August 1992
Doubleday first edition, November 1990
This spring the annual Sun Dance is without joy. The buffalo – upon which the People depend for their survival – have not returned with the greening of the grasses. While the holy men gather to find a way to bring back the herds, Red Horse, a young medicine man of the People, consults the Story Skins and is granted an extraordinary vision of a majestic white buffalo. Joined by Digging Owl, a medicine man from the Southern Plains, Red Horse sets out on a wondrous and perilous quest in search of the legendary beast – a quest for survival from which, it is prophesied, one of the two friends will not return.
Don Coldsmith continues his saga of his fictional tribe by exploring the devastating effects the disappearance of the buffalo would have on them. He creates a great sense of worry through his characters mainly through the desperate hunt of Red Horse to find the white buffalo of his vision.
Red Horse must travel through new lands, deal with people from unknown tribes, and work with Digging Owl to fulfil his quest. Coldmith creates a wonderful friendship between these two, a friendship that is built on a backbone of mistrust, neither wanting to admit why they are tracking the buffalo. Both have different agendas, both wanting it to end differently, both fearing it could mean having to face each other in conflict.
I did feel it a shame that Don Coldsmith has Red Horse confront two separate trios that are made up of the same type of people, one who wants to kill Red Horse and the other two ready to listen. Both encounters are resolved in similar ways too.
By far the best meeting is with an old woman who lives in the middle of nowhere, a woman who prophesises the death of either Red Horse or Digging Owl. In her, Coldsmith has created a very memorable character, one I’d like to read more about. Maybe I will as the series progresses.
The discovery of the buffalo leads to dramatic and very visual scenes that brings everything to its inevitable conclusion and left me eager to read the next book in the series.