|Cassie Edwards: Wind Walker|
Signet (Paperback), ISBN 0451212193
Wind Walker, the latest installment in Cassie Edward's Signet Indian Series, brings together the white woman Maggie Tolan and the Cheyenne warrior Wind Walker. Maggie left Boston to follow her uncle on the Oregon Trail. Along the way she buried her mother and any hope for happiness in the western wilderness. Now in Wyoming Territory, she comes to the attention of the odious rancher Archy Parrish, a widower with two small children, who convinces himself that Maggie can satisfy all his needs. In the dead of night, he abducts her from her wagon train.
Maggie's uncle Red turns to Wind Walker, new chief of the peaceful local Cheyenne tribe, to rescue Maggie. The resulting adventure features daring nighttime raids, a sacred sweat lodge ceremony and the forging of friendships between two cultures.
Edwards, long known for her portrayals of Native cultures, here describes the rugged landscape of the West and two of the tribes -- the Utes and the Cheyenne -- who lived there. Threaded throughout the plot are some of the tensions present in the settling of the West: enclosure of the land, enmity between Native tribes, distrust between Natives and whites, killing of the buffalo and discrimination against children born of Native and white unions. But such themes must be teased out of the romance plot surrounding Maggie and Wind Walker.
In truth, I found the book disappointing. Edwards never addresses how Wind Walker and almost the entire Cheyenne tribe learned English. In addition, Edwards quickly glosses over the tribe's motivation to aid the white settlers despite a loss of land and resources.
Towards the end of the book, Maggie and Wind Walker decide to help a young man born of a white father and an Arapaho mother. Maggie and Wind Walker do so with a sense of outrage at the treatment of such biracial children, yet Maggie gives birth to their own son without any discussion of the future he might face. Nor does Edwards give much thought to Maggie's future as a white woman in an Indian tribe on the verge of a white invasion. In a genre based on happy futures for its characters, this book fails to deliver.
No doubt fans of Cassie Edwards and Indian romances will find much to enjoy. I, however, did not. I thought the characterization inconsistent and two-dimensional, and the plot unsatisfying. Readers looking for a pick-me-up read should look elsewhere.
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