A second in the author’s Rendezvous series (So Wild a Dream, not reviewed), about the early days of the fur trade.
Blevins (Westward: A Fictional History of the American West, 2003, etc.) is often mystical when writing about Indians, and his gritty fiction brings to mind the fur-trade novels of Frederick Manfred (Lord Grizzly, 1954) and Vardis Fisher (Mountain Man). In So Wild a Dream, set in the 1820s, Pittsburgh’s white-haired, impressionable young Sam Morgan, finding Pennsylvania dull, lights out for the West, becomes a hand on a riverboat, has many adventures on the frontier, then heads into the unmapped West on a grueling 700-mile trek, alone and on foot, across the Great Plains to the Rockies, where men blaze trails across the mountains. Between Missouri and the Pacific, he falls in with various Indian tribes and learns crafts for living in the wilds. Now, after two years trapping beaver, he goes home, fights with his family, heads back west. Downhearted, he dreams himself joined to a Spirit Buffalo (named Samalo), decides to seek his beloved Indian maiden Meadowlark, and sets off with his pet coyote to find her. Sam and three friends, including Third Wing, a Pawnee, go up Wind River to look for her. Meadowlark is glad to see him, but Sam is humiliated by a Crow archery game that awards him the name No Arrows. Nor can he ride as well as Crow. When another Crow courts Meadowlark, Sam must become a real Crow if he’s to win her, but after he’s captured by Lakota Sioux (and escapes), he’s too poor to woo her. And he’s responsible for a young Crow’s death. Meadowlark’s parents believe a prophecy that White Men will overrun the land: Thus Meadowlark mustn’t marry a White. But soon the Pacific beckons them both.
The glory years of frontier life, fresh and rich.