Nowadays no one writes the kind of boys' adventures spun by Stevenson and C. S. Forester, but Leonard Wibberley carries on...

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RED PAWNS

Nowadays no one writes the kind of boys' adventures spun by Stevenson and C. S. Forester, but Leonard Wibberley carries on the tradition with tongue in cheek. In this latest chapter of the Treegate saga, young Manley (returned from his impressment in Leopard's Prey, KR, 1971) and his younger brother Peter head for the frontier territories where the Indians are massing under Tecumseh -- hoping for peace, but destined, in Uncle Treegate's cynical view, to become ""red pawns"" in the struggle between England and America. Manley, Peter, and their irascible guide Pouch arrive in Pittsburgh in time to book passage on the makeshift steamboat New Orleans and, once in Indiana, Peter and Pouch steal the show by getting themselves captured by the great Prophet himself. Meanwhile Uncle Treegate is in London trying to avert the War of 1812 singlehandedly and vindicates America's honor in a chapter-long duel that's a masterpiece of comic anticlimax. The elder Treegate's iconoclastic view of the frontier (""fifty thousand people in one square mile provides employment and trade for all. . . fifty thousand people in fifty thousand square miles makes root grubbers of everybody"") is borne out by Pouch who knows that the Prophet's new movement (the Indians ""ain't gonna be Christian anymore, which means they ain't gonna drink rum and whiskey"") doesn't stand a chance against the eight dollar bounty paid by the British for Indian scalps. The Treegates sometimes get caught between Wibberley's skeptical hindsight and their own role as committed participants, but if Peter and Manley tend to amble aimlessly from episode to episode, each new escapade revives the pleasures of old-fashioned narrative.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973