Conley (War Woman, 1997, etc.), a veteran novelist of the Cherokee, continues on course with a ritual-rich, relentlessly upbeat tale of a young warrior's transformation from inadvertent murderer to heir apparent of the tribe's ceremonial leader. When Young Puppy accidentally kills his best friend in the heat of battle, thinking him the enemy, he sets in motion a chain of events radically altering his own life as well. Forced by fear of retribution from the dead man's clan to hide for a year within the walls of the Cherokees' sacred village, Young Puppy frets at first, unable to hunt, ride his horse, or even court Guwisti, the girl he plans to marry. He remains stout of heart, however, pledging to care for his friend's widow and the child she will soon bear, while also welcoming the leader of a group of Frenchmen who've come to the village as peace envoys from the Seneca, long enemies of his people. Out of respect for a vision that comes to Young Puppy during a tribal ceremony, one of the few remaining Cherokee spiritual leaders begins teaching him the cycle of rituals regulating tribal life. Young Puppy thrives under the tutelage, but his period of confinement ends just as the decision is made to establish a new town on the border of Cherokee land to strengthen its defense. He's named Peace Chief of this new town. The town's beginning is overshadowed, though, when war intervenes: a party comprised of Cherokee, French, and Seneca braves must pursue and annihilate a band of rogue Indian slave-catchers working for the Spanish. Meanwhile, the new Peace Chief puts things at home in order, taking to wife not only Guwisti but also his friend's widow, with her newborn twins. The plot is as catch-all as it can be, with every loose thread accounted for. Still, an appealingly full view of complex tribal life.