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Based on the tragic late-19th-century genocide of the Indian peoples of Patagonia, this is a well-meaning but muscle-bound novel which features a hero of numbing nobility, enemies colored in basic Evil, and dialogue that lurches from Early Prince Valiant (""Be you of a mind to return to us?"") to mixed-idiom clumsiness (""With great respect for your father, who sleeps in the moon's arms, that was an uncoiled-for rebuke""). Berry focuses on the Tehuelche people, who are about to have their ancestral lands invaded by greedy white ranchers--like Bruce McClellan, called ""Red Pig"" by the Tehuelches, who has gathered other landowners to hear about an Indian-annihilation policy from the government. But government representative Manuel de Robles, one-quarter Indian himself, hopes for peace. And meanwhile, into the Tehuelche village has come ex-slave Harkana the Orphan, a giant whose stamina is ""staggering""--as he rides Zorkan Rood, a tremendous, tamed silver stallion. Is Harkana the ""doomed messiah"" who'll lead his people to honorable destruction? Apparently. So, with a wise man's blessing and a vote of the tribe, Harkana leads all-out war: the initial raid kills most of the Red Pig's men; Harkana will save de Robles' life as the two good men meet face to face; Harkana finds his woman, Pandra, daughter of a Tehuelche chief, whose death is a final gift; and there will be savage victories by the far-more-honorable Tehuelches. But finally, of course, the Indians are defeated--with captured Harkana dying at the stake. . . while Zorkan Rood takes matters into his own hoofs by killing the Red Pig himself. (De Robles tends the stallion's wounds and sees him off free in the moonlight.) Often reminiscent of old-time boys' adventure books--a simple-minded, gory, yet somewhat tedious treatment of intriguing historical material.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1982
Publisher: Evans