by Charles Frazier
I eagerly anticipated reading this book, based on my enjoyment of Cold Mountain. Unfortunately, Thirteen Moons couldn\’t hold my interest. It\’s a historical novel surrounding the time when Cherokees were forced off their land by the American government. The main character is a twelve-year-old orphaned boy Will, who is sent by his aunt and uncle to work off years of bond in a trading post on the edge of the Cherokee Nation. He has a fine horse, and loves reading, but not much else in the way of prospects. He soon meets a Cherokee man who basically adopts him into the tribe, and gradually he gets introduced to the culture. For me the most vivid, memorable scene was when he attended a tribal dance where the native americans impersonated the various foreigners who had invaded their land. One of the author\’s aims seemed to be showing how varied the abilities and stations were among Cherokees- Will spends winters among the Cherokee in an earth-and-wattle hut surrounded by dim smoky light and storytelling, but later in the story he visits a fine plantation run by a wealthy Cherokee man who has slaves and a beautiful young girl (and he falls in love). He muddles around trying to find his place in life, eventually settling on pursing law (because he has law books) and trying to fight for the Cherokee to stay on their land. His visits to Washington are eye-opening: the portrayal of the capital as a small, muddy town full of pretentious and self-absorbed folk, quite a different picture of our early government than I ever had in mind. His efforts fail, the girl leaves him (several times) and he starts to watch the forced removal of his adopted people from their homeland. I struggled to get through the chapters where he started pursuing law, my attention to the story lagging, and hoped it would pick up again with this depiction of dissolution and despair. But I couldn\’t bring myself to keep reading- two thirds done, and I had no more attachment to the characters than at the very beginning. It\’s a slow book and I failed to stick it through.
Abandoned 422 pages, 2006