Saturday, 12 June 2021


Book 26 of 29 + three special editions
By Don Coldsmith
Cover art by Tom Hall
Bantam, April 2001

For the Forest Band of the People, summer is a peaceful time of hunting and gathering. But when a band of Shaved-heads brutally attack, the People’s women and children are carried off into slavery. Most accept their fate, but one of the captives, the courageous widow White Moon, vows to keep the traditions of the band alive until the day the survivors can be reunited with the People. Her dream will inspire many of her tribe as they struggle to preserve their culture: a young hunter and his loyal wife, a troubled warrior on a vision quest, an aged storyteller, a wily trader – until at last the special child is born who is destined to lead the Forest Band back to its rightful place in the Great Council of the People.

A sweeping story that covers generations, even reaching further back into the past than before the first book in the series began as Don Coldsmith finally reveals what happened to the band that should occupy the empty place at the Council fire.

Coldsmith divides the book into four parts, each following a different person as the survivors of the Forest Band’s ancestors try to keep traditions alive, in secret as they often don’t know who they can trust, especially those originally taken by the Shaved-heads. Even though many want to find the People themselves there are a variety of reasons they cannot do so; the birth of children and not knowing where to find the People being a couple of those problems.

The lives of the four main characters, White Moon, Striker, Stumbling Bear and Story Keeper, are fascinating to read. Each is very different to the others but linked by the desire to keep their bloodline hidden and to be reunited with the People. I always thought Coldsmith was extremely good at character studies and they are as strong in this tale as they are in any other book in this tremendous series. Hope, expectation, wonder, happiness, love, fear, anguish, hate and sadness, mould the lead characters as they grow. As a reader I often found myself sharing their emotions as I was captured by the magic of their decades long quest.

Right at the beginning of the book Coldsmith lets the reader know that the Forest Band will return to the People, and the scenes of amazement when Story Keeper arrives at the Sun Dance and announces who he is captured my imagination immediately and I was hooked. I just had to discover what had happened to the Forest Band and the story proved to be just as good as I hoped it would be.

No comments: