A colorful novel set among the Mormons in 1862, featuring such real folks as Sam Clemens, Sir Richard Burton, Brigham Young, and Porter Rockwell, by the author of Stone Song (1995), an imaginary life of Crazy Horse. Half-Indian Asie Taylor, a musical prodigy who has been accepted into the Church of the Latter-day Saints, drowns when his delivery wagon is overturned in a flash flood, has an out-of-body experience, returns to life, and is amazed to see hovering over him the scarred but beautiful face of Sun Moon, a Tibetan Buddhist nun who was kidnapped in Asia and shipped to America to be sold into prostitution. There, she ended up in Idaho, where Tarim, the local tavernkeeper/whoremaster who bought her, expected to resell her for a hefty sum. When Porter Rockwell, a Mormon known as the Destroying Angel (he seeks out and kills enemies of the church) wins Sun Moon, he attempts to satisfy his lust, is frustrated by his inability to do so, and disfigures her face. Having learned some English while storekeeping, Sun Moon flees Tarim and falls in with Asie, who decides to go in search of his origins and of the meaning of his Shoshone name, Rock Child. Meantime, Rockwell is in pursuit of Sun Moon, determined to kill her—and anyone who gets in his way. Tibetan-speaking British explorer/translator Sir Richard Burton, an opium addict of none-too-sound mind, who's in Salt Lake City to persuade Brigham Young to form a separate Western Confederacy, saves Asie and Sun Moon from Rockwell and joins their quest. For a while, Brigham Young gives them sanctuary from Rockwell, though Rockwell later follows the trio to San Francisco. The climax would satisfy the Buddha himself as his teachings resoundingly bring the murderous Rockwell to heel. Historical detail serves a charming treasure.
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