A sad tale threaded with deaths, regrets and the importance of memory and story concludes this three volume narrative of a young Canadian wanderer in the Old West.
A year after parting from Bill “Billy the Kid” Bonney and taking up a new job scouting for a troop of Buffalo Soldiers, Jim Doolen finds himself caught between friends in the military and friends riding with the Apaches they are chasing. Jim gets all too close to ambushes and atrocities on both sides before being captured. He is saved by his mystic old mentor Too-ah-yay-say from being killed out of hand by his enemy Ghost Moon and held captive until a final massacre by Mexican soldiers. As in previous episodes, Wilson hangs his plot on actual events and characters—most notable among the latter the great Chiricahua leader Victorio (Bidu-ya) and his strong warrior-prophet sister, Lozen. Jim’s bitter reflections on the hard fates that have befallen nearly all of the good and worthy people he has met in his travels give his account a weary, valedictory tone, though plans to convey one of the massacre’s few surviving children back to the reservation give him a final task and a glimmer of hope that he’s serving the future in a small way.
Despite fair measures of bloodshed and gunfire, all the long thoughts and dusty desert trails will make the pacing seem slow to readers who haven’t already thrilled to Jim’s earlier adventures. (Historical fiction. 11-14)