PANTHER IN THE SKY by James Alexander Thom


Email this review


After two best-selling original paperback historicals based on Colonial frontier themes (Follow the River, 1981, and From Sea to Shining Sea, 1984), Thom follows with his first hard-cover--a superb fictional retelling of the life of the great Shawnee chief, Tecumseh. The son of a renowned Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh was born in 1768 in an Indian village near the Ohio River. His name meant ""The Eye of the Panther,"" and it turned out to be prophetic--while still a teen-ager, Tecumseh began fighting the ""Long Knifes"" (the American colonials, as opposed to their British masters) who were encroaching on the sacred hunting grounds of ""Kain-tuck-ee."" Thus began a lifelong war to save his people and their land; he joined forces with the redcoats in the Revolutionary War, matching wits with the likes of Mad Anthony Wayne and Daniel Boone. But Tecumseh was more than just a great field general--by the War of 1812, he had formed a vast confederation of Indians to face the Long Knifes. He might've been successful, too, but his inept British allies were constantly letting him down--as they did for the final time when he was killed in Canada fighting his arch-nemesis, William Henry Harrison. Passionate, well-researched, and romantic--with fascinating glimpses of Tecumseh as a young man, roaming far to the west and hunting buffalo, and of his half-mad brother, Open Door, who started a kind of messianic Indian religion based on a dream. And Thom quotes liberally from Tecumseh's various impassioned speeches (taken down verbatim by white scribes at failed treaty conferences), which show the man to be a visionary as well as a warrior. In all, then: popular historical fiction at its best.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1989
Publisher: Ballantine