Another gritty slice of American Indian life from Robson (Ride the Wind, 1982; Walk in My Soul, 1985), this time featuring...

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LIGHT A DISTANT FIRE

Another gritty slice of American Indian life from Robson (Ride the Wind, 1982; Walk in My Soul, 1985), this time featuring the Seminole, under the leadership of the charismatic Osceola. As a boy, Osceola witnesses the defeat of his uncle in a battle with General Andrew (""Mad Dog"" to the Indians) Jackson. This loss forces his tribe to move further south into Florida, looking for somewhere to live in freedom with their black people, runaway slaves who've found refuge with them. This is the pattern of the next 20 years. The Army moves in, the Seminole are driven further into the impenetrable swamps, which are vividly evoked. Osceola is initiated, attends the Green Corn ceremony, falls in love, marries Morning Dew, kills a slave-trader, participates in unsuccessful negotiations with the ""pale eyes"" over land, hunts a monster alligator, appeases his wife, who's not on good terms with her mother-in-law, visits Tampa, and rescues his captured friend, Heartless Snake. All this in the first 14 of 54 chapters. More restrictions and hardships follow for the Seminole, as do more inept attempts by the Army to dislodge them once and for all. But there's no happy ending--no resolution--to the conflict; Osceola dies imprisoned in 1838. For historical-saga fans, there are lots of earthy, sometimes grisly, descriptions of battle wounds and scalpings, hookworms and ticks; detailed depictions of everyday life for the Seminole; and brilliant word-portraits of memorable characters like Osceola's stringy grandmother ""Fighting-in-a-Line,"" whose 60-year-old new husband says she looks like and tastes like spicy beef jerky.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1988

ISBN: 0595474551

Page Count: -

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988