JASON McGEE by Robert H. Fowler


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Jason McGee, who gets involved in the French and Indian War in Western Pennsylvania back in 1753-54, is not all that different from the young hero of Fowler's first novel, Jim Mundy (1977), who went off to the Civil War and experienced that conflict from the foot-soldier's point of view. The McGees, led by patriarch Abraham, have staked out a claim that is a few miles within the Indian reservation in the Susquehanna Valley and have lived there for five years. But one day while 16-year-old Jason is returning from the woods, he sees three strange Indians (one is very tall, with no nose) attack his house, kill his mother and sister, and kidnap his older brother Isaac. The two remaining McGees start out for rescue and revenge, but Abraham is forced to put Jason into indentured service for three years to a Dutch settler-blacksmith's family so that he can have a horse and rifle with which to chase the killers. And, after the elder, alcoholic McGee dies at a tavern, Jason must go it alone--though he vows to return to his love, the smith's daughter, after he has recovered his lost brother. Falling in with Christopher Cadwell, a foulmouthed fur trader, and Ephraim Haworth, a Quaker full of Christian attitudes toward Indians, Jason heads into Western Pennsylvania, bedeviled along the way by some vicious French troops and given succor by some Delaware Indians (Jason beds the absent chief's virgin daughter). Finally, he meets up with the dastardly noseless giant and fatally wounds the giant's companion--who turns out to be Isaac, now the Indian's adopted son, who has planned to marry the very girl Jason bedded, who in turn is the murderer's daughter! Despite the melodrama in the plot, Fowler again gives historical action an unusual sense of reality--no phony dialogue, no panting bosoms--but his young-hero-ordeal formula puts sizable limitations on the emotional textures of this above-average period adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row