An engaging historical, by Crook (The Raven's Bride, 1991), that deftly deflates myths about the Texas fight (1835-36) for independence from Mexico, revealing the desperation, poor planning, and grandiose leadership on both sides--and the carnage that resulted. As the story begins, hot-tempered young Miles Kenner, a homesteader in Texas, Mexico, leaves home to join the mostly Anglo rebels fortifying San Antonio's Alamo. Miles's father, Hugh, soon heads to the front as well; a doctor, he's needed to tend to the ragged ranks of wounded rebels. The younger Kenner son, Toby, goes along with Hugh, while the Kenner women--Hugh's elderly mother; his wife, Rose; and their daughter, Katie--join a long line of refugees. At the same time, Adelaido Pacheco, a Texan of Mexican ancestry, and his sister Crucita find themselves caught in the middle. True Tejanos, they move easily between the Anglo and Mexican worlds but are wholly at home in neither. Meanwhile, the Kenner refugees brave hunger, cold, illness, cottonmouths, and terrifying rumors only to lose Hugh's mother, and the Kenner men are caught in a bloody debacle at Goliad that ends when the surviving rebels surrender. Conscripted to doctor Mexican soldiers, Hugh is at work when Miles is killed in a gory Palm Sunday massacre, from which Toby escapes. Toby sets out alone, trekking for days before finding a rebel camp. Brutalized, half-starved, and seriously wounded, he is barely recognizable when Hugh finds him three weeks later, just after the battle of San Jacinto. In this battle, the one that wins the war for Texas, bloodthirsty rebels descend on General Santa Anna's army--and Crucita is killed. After the war, the Kenners return to their homestead while Adelaido heads west--and, perhaps, into another installment in Crook's series. Convincing characters and vivid description bring a fascinating period to life. Cook hits a flat note on occasion, but too rarely to spoil the harmony.