STONE SONG by Win Blevins


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 Wyoming-based Blevins, whose specialty has been the American West (the paperback High Missouri, etc.), expertly delves into the psyche of a warrior guided by mystic visions. When the story opens, Crazy Horse is a 16-year-old Lakota Sioux with the teenage name of Light Curly Hair--he won't be known as Crazy Horse until he earns his father's title. Meanwhile, because his hair is so different from anyone else's in the tribe, a rumor is spread that he has white blood. It's untrue, but the rumor works to make Light Curly Hair feel apart and isolated. He's also troubled by visions in which he sees himself as a warrior and holy man, a leader who can't be harmed by the white man's bullets. Light Curly Hair's mentor urges him to seek the fulfillment of his visions, but he resists, afraid of the burden. Simultaneously, the tribe feels other pressures: Buffalo are scarce, people are hungry, and the whites are violating the newly signed treaties. When the Civil War ends, more troops, settlers, and miners descend on Lakota lands. By this time, Curly Hair is Crazy Horse. He's distinguished himself in battle against white soldiers, and the warriors trust his leadership, even in retreat--Crazy Horse knows that courage must be tempered by intelligence. He's also accepted the rightness of his visions, as well as the hardships of being a ``holy warrior'' (going unmarried, rejecting nearly all material things). He fights for ``the old ways'' and the ``hunting life,'' but he and the Sioux are inexorably beaten down (despite their victory at Little Big Horn). Later, the humiliations of reservation life make tribe members more petty, more political, more, in Crazy Horse's point of view, white--foreordaining his own betrayal and murder. Many-layered and complex: Blevins reveals a truly human Crazy Horse, and a tribal life that is completely believable.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85567-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1995


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