Thursday, April 1, 2010


Charles Frazier follows up the success of Cold Mountain with another offering set in the mountains of North Carolina - Thirteen Moons.  Frazier continues to write about a region he has much familiarity, having been born in the scenic mountain town of Ashville, and schooled at nearby Appalachian State University, in Booneville.

Will,  the protagonist of Thirteen Moons, is a twelve-year-old sold by his parents into indentured servitude and required to manage a trading post at the edge of the Cherokee Nation.  Overtime he is adopted by a Cherokee chief; as an adult he fights for the rights of a small group of Cherokee and mixed-bloods who remain after the Indians were forced to relocate to Oklahoma Territory in the 1830's during Andrew Jackson's presidency.  

There is an active love story between Will and a mixed-blood named Claire embedded in the novel.  The romance is laced throughout the story, tying together the decades the book spans.  Here lies the Gordian Knot of the tale, winning and keeping Claire's love.

Though the author has a disclaimer in the book to the contrary, the novel seems to be based on William Holland Thomas, the man who helped gain citizenship and thus the right to remain in the Carolinas for the Indians that remained behind in the Smokey Mountains after the forced removal.  This group that stayed became the nucleus of what is now known as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Fraizer's strength as a story teller is his ability to paint vivid scenes. His descriptions of people, places and events jump off the page. His words bring to life the smell of sweat on a hard ridden horse as well as the taste of a kiss; he pulls the reader into the moment with his descriptions, whether it is the beauty of a misty sunrise on a mountain top or the seediness of a hunting cabin poker game, Frazier captures the scene. 

I highly recommend this offering as historical fiction for its adventure, romance and Frazier's abilities as a wordsmith.

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