An unusual slice of life is revealed in this novel of the West, with its with a difference. Two Ute Indians, caught in the white man's world, escape back to the mountains and the old life, taking their small son with them. The boy grows up in the wilderness, among animals and the old songs and skills; and, after his parents' death, lives alone with a bear cub for two years. He is then trapped back into the white man's school, where he is rebellious and miserable; learns to ride and is taken up by a hard-drinking white man who trains him as a rodeo rider and wins bets on his (rigged) rides. Called Tom Black now, the boy breaks away and becomes a horse-killing top rodeo rider, a legend around the country, who lives only to take out his bitterness on his horses. In the end, smashed up after a bad fall, he returns to his own country. Told with clarity, simplicity and unfailing interest by a man who obviously knows his country, horses, Indians and rodeos, this is an assuredly adult novel which may well extend its pull to younger readers.