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 A talky tract that's less historical novel than deadly earnest brief for the previously unheralded notion that the settlement of America's Middle Colonies owed much to a sort of psychic friends network. In 1710, teenager Conrad Weiser comes to the New World with the Germans who were recruited by England's Queen Anne to populate the desolate province of New York. The refugees from Europe's seemingly endless wars and religious conflicts quickly find themselves oppressed anew, this time by deceitful, avaricious agents of the Crown. Conrad's father Johann soon sends him to live among the Mohawks. A gifted linguist, the pioneering exchange student takes quickly to Indian ways; perceived as an `old soul' by his hosts (whose younger generation is losing touch with the spirits, great or otherwise, as white men overrun their ancestral domain), he's apprenticed to the shaman Longhair, who tutors him in the fine art of dreaming. An apt pupil, Conrad engages in many out- of-body experiences. When not larking with hawks or eagles, he conjures up the site where Captain Kidd buried treasure on Martha's Vineyard. Journeying there in corporeal form, he retrieves gold and jewelry enough to buy his fellow Germans their own land. While he's prepared to continue his visionary studies with the Real People (as Moss's Indians style themselves), Longhair instead sends him home to serve as a bridge between whites and reds. Conrad marries, starts a family, and eventually leads the Germans into the Pennsylvania wilderness, where (with guidance from a supreme being, the Peacemaker, and his avatar Hiawatha) the group establishes a prosperous farming community. Bad medicine from the usually diverting Moss (The Firekeeper, 1995, etc.), made no easier to swallow by constant prattle about body thieves, death hammers, dreambodies, lifegivers, shapeshifting, soul takers, and timefolders, not to mention the odd anachronism (``She is an arendiwanen, a woman of power. That's something you don't mess with'').

Pub Date: March 25th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-85739-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997


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