KOMANTCIA by Harold Keith
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Komantcia was originally a Ute word meaning ""anyone who wants to fight me all the time."" The Comanche Indians found the insult applied to them suitable and called their vast empire by that name. The tribesmen were among the most savage in their customs; they were devoted to warfare, delighted in torture, were slovenly and unclean, and had foul habits, In contrast, is the scene described at the opening of the book as a group of refined, highly educated, sophisticated Spaniards arrive as guests at the wealthy rancho of their relatives. Included among them are Pedro Pavon, considered the greatest Spanish guitarist, and his younger brother Roberto. The first night of their visit they are the sole survivors of a raid by some Comanches and made their captives. Pedro begins his new life as the despised slave of one of the most brutish bravesbut works his way up to a Comanche education and full adoption by one of the chiefs. His hatred for the Indians' habits, for the murders of his relatives, his yearning for his homeland, for his guitar, and for Christianity, are his preoccupation at first, but gradually, almost imperceptibly they lessen. And his first act, when he achieves his freedom, is not to escape, but to carry out a raid so that he can marry the girl he loves. The descriptions of the Comanches are exhaustive but never obtrusive. Pedro's conversion is very well done; he is shocked when he discovers how completely his brother has accepted his surroundings, yet never consciously realizes that he too has changed into a Comanche. It's a long book, but well developed; there are fast-moving scenes and striking descriptions. By the author of Newbery Award winner Rifles for Watie.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1965
Publisher: Crowell