At the age of twelve, under the Wind moon, Will is given a horse, a key, and a map, and sent alone into the Indian Nation to run a trading post as a bound boy. It is during this time that he grows into a man, learning, as he does, of the raw power it takes to create a life, to find a home. In a card game with a white Indian named Featherstone, Will wins a mysterious girl named Claire. As Will's destiny intertwines with the fate of the Cherokee Indians, including a Cherokee Chief named Bear, he learns how to fight and survive in the face of both nature and men, and eventually, under the Corn Tassel Moon, Will begins the fight against Washington City to preserve the Cherokee's homeland and culture. And he will come to know the truth behind his belief that only desire trumps time.
I had no reason to be nervous. I loved it. Frazier's
This is the story of Will Cooper, who was sent (at the age of twelve) to the edge of the Cherokee nation to run a trading post. He starts out with just his horse and a key to the store, and builds a life from there. The people in his life are beautifully drawn: Bear, his Cherokee surrogate father; Claire, who he wins in a card game when they are both 12 years old; Featherstone, owner of a nearby plantation. Will's story is told from his late-in-life perspective, with the pragmatic feeling of a man who lived through history and doesn't sugarcoat it or romanticize anything. The stark tale against the lush background of the mountains and the characterization - dang, it was just about perfect.
I hope that he writes more novels along these lines. I'll probably pick up Cold Mountain at some point and read that, as well.
Frazier's protagonist is an interesting, remarkably sensitive orphan who effectively builds himself alone, starting from age 12, when he is thrust into the wilderness by an alarmingly disaffected aunt and uncle with little more than a key and a vague map. Heck, they didn't even have maps for the place he was supposed to go--a frontier trading post, to which he is bound (again by the unscrupulous family members) for seven years.
Here in this shack-store not even within American boundaries, he builds a life woven of the southern Appalachian landscape and the local Cherokees. He is adopted as a son by Bear, a sweet and lamentable elder. He meets a girl who smells like lavender, briefly, and falls terrifically in love.
But, as all things for the Cherokee went in the 1830s (bad), so do a lot of things here. Expect love and beauty and sinuous plot, but not joy. Frazier's pace through the first half or two-thirds of the novel crescendos in a page-turner fashion, dragging you, the spectator, through many phases of the thirteen moons along with the characters. You see lovely things. Brief and beleaguered happiness. Knowing nothing good will come of this.
The last third of the novel feels like a dirge, winding down after an action-packed denouement. The greatest flaw of this story is its unwillingness to stop. You keep tumbling through the protagonist's life until you wonder what you're headed toward. Pain outweighs optimism at every turn. Each happiness leads to fifteen sorrows.
A beautiful book. Well worth reading and savoring. Expect to feel the mountains around you, dripping on you. Don't expect redemption.
There is a lot of travel in this saga. The travels of the main character, Will, on horseback, carriage... rail road.... and the descriptions are wonderful! I know a bit of the southern states in which this is all taking place, and even though it is no longer open pasture and forest as it was over 100 years ago, the bones of what is described are still there.
The lives of the Cherokee are much discussed. As is the intermixing of the people - Cherokee and "white"; most often, it seems, the Scot's who settled in the South and often lived harmonious lived with the native inhabitants. Racial issues are discussed and are as unclear in this book as they were/are in life - then and now.
The emotional part was realizing at the end, there was a life long and seemingly fully lived, but never personally fulfilled. Other's I know who have read this did not see or feel what I did. But I stand by my verdict. Whether Mr Frazier intended to, or not, I see ultimately a story of a life unfulfilled.
And I should have known going into it that, being a Frazier book, it wasn't going to end on exactly a high note. But like Cold Mountain, it did at least end with some amount of hope, and satisfaction.
Set in the mid-nineteenth century, it tells the story of Will Cooper, an orphaned boy, and the Cherokee Nation that takes him in as one of its own. It is a story of heartbreak and triumph, as I suppose all good novels are. But I found it to be a most personal story, too. Meaningful to me in ways that still aren't clear to me. An amazing book, and one that could easily find its way onto my Top Ten of All Time favorites.
It's a love story, it's a story of a yearning for power, for the preservation of tradition and
For that reason, I was looking
The premise involves a very elderly narrator looking back upon his time among the Cherokee Indians of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains in the early 19th century. As a young man, he was sold as an indentured servant to a businessman who placed him in charge of a frontier trading post. It was here that he fell in with and was essentially adopted by the adjacent Native Americans. Thirteen Moons is his recollection of his time among the natives and his efforts to acquire and hold onto the ancestral property of his adopted tribe, efforts which involved training as a lawyer and acting as a lobbyist among D.C. lawmakers and policy setters in the time leading up to and encompassing the Trail of Tears.
As in Cold Mountain, Frazier's writing is haunting and filled with imagery of the surrounding countryside. It can certainly be said that at times the action drags, but I can never say that I became bored or anxious for something to happen. I was at all times captivated by the prose and the underlying story line. The thread involving the love of his life, Claire, was simply outstanding as it wove its way in and out of the novel. The love/hate relationship with Featherstone was magnificently presented as were the father/son moments between Will and Bear. All in all, a very worthy successor to Cold Mountain. I eagerly await Frazier's next effort.
I think this book could have been much more effective if either Frazier had focused on Cooper's relationship with his two adoptive "fathers" (both Cherokee, both extremely different), or had narrowed in on Cooper's relationship with Clare. As it was, I thought the book lost its way once Clare followed the Trail of Tears and we - as readers - followed Cooper around his fairly boring middle-aged pursuits. Nonetheless, the Frazier does an extraordinary job of describing a time and a place that is lost in history.
The story is set long ago, and it just has this... feel to it that I can't explain... an atmosphere. America has just barely begun to form. Native Americans still live on their lands, though by this time most of them have adapted to the influx of white people. The Trail of Tears hasn't yet happened.
The protagonist is a white orphan who is sent into Cherokee territory for some reason or another, and he is soon taken in by a man named Bear. Will begins to learn the Cherokee language--which is a good deal more complex than English, actually, something I didn't know. The language has many more tenses.
Will grows up throughout the story, and there is your typical lost love plot. Sometimes he seems a wee bit high and mighty, but overall it is an excellent story. Very sad, very long...and it has a deep feel to it... it feels like the South, like Tennessee. Yes. I'm realizing it now... that deep, slightly sad but proud vibe that runs in the Tennessee hills is captured in this story.