Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

Mountains of Stone –by Orland Ned Eddins

Novel, Historical
276 Pages
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
Illustrations: Yes
5 Stars

While researching the Wilson Price Hunt expedition of 1811, I came upon The Fur Trapper site, by O.N. Eddins, DVM. Dr. Eddins is a student of history of the Mountain Man and that era, and I found a lot of good information on his site. He also has a book, Mountains of Stone, which I bought.

Mountains of Stone is a novel of a young white man, who came to this country as a young boy with his mother and step father. They decided to homestead out in Ohio, and as they camped, he witnessed the murder of his mother and father by a Shawnee warrior. A boy of about 4 or 5, he had nothing but a broken knife, but he was going to get revenge. Before he could make the attempt the Shawnee was killed, and a Delaware picked up the boy and took him to his village, where he grew into the warrior known as Lame Dear's son, Broken Knife. The only thing taken by them from the campsite, which had been burned, was a metal box and its contents.

As Broken Knife grew and became a warrior the memories of his white parents faded. When Lame Dear was killed, and his village raided by white men in Indian clothing who killed his mother and Uncle, he went after his revenge, and then headed west.

He met a white couple, befriended them, and they took him into their lives and home, where old memories of his white family began to emerge. He learned to speak English again, and he learned the trade of blacksmith and gun repairer. And he became confused. Was he Indian? Or was he White? Where did he fit in?

He was in Saint Louis when the Lewis and Clark expedition came through, and signed on to help at least for a while, as a hunter. When one of the founders of Saint Louis asked his help to rescue his niece from the Indians, he did so, and realized he was more Indian than white. When he returns with the girl, her uncle wanted to pay him, but Broken Knife has little use for the money, so it is invested. Broken Knife shows him the box, and the papers, and asks him to keep them, and to pay a debt his (step) father incurred.

Broken Knife goes back among the Indians, makes friends of many from disparate tribes, and prefers not to kill, but will if he needs to. He marries an Indian woman who wants to learn English and 'white man ways'.

When word comes that his benefactor is looking for him, he takes his wife and adopted daughter to Saint Louis where learns who he really is, and is once again faced with a life-decision. Will he and his family remain, or travel to France?

As a young girl, my heroes were the Mountain Men, especially Hugh Glass, Jim Bridger, John Colter, and Joe Meek. I've read what I could about them through the years; I've traveled some of the same areas they have. At times, it's been hard to unlearn what I learned, and relearn the facts. This book has done nothing to disparage the Mountain Man; in fact, it makes him more human, more alive.

My one quibble (and believe me, it's small, and personal preference only) is I'm not fond of the few places where the character speaks in dialect. For me, it interrupted the smooth flow of the story. Fortunately, those places were few, far apart, and short, so I give this 5 Stars for the story, the writing, and the history.

It's a great read, and I highly recommend it! This book has also received acceptance by Native Americans on the Council for Indian Education Editorial Board. I can't think of a better reason to buy and read this book.

Addendum 2 Aug 13

I was so excited when I finished the book to get the review up, I had not yet seen the DVD that came with the book. There are, I believe, about a hundred photos that illustrate the mountains and prairies that Broken Knife saw. Also there is a Power Point slide show of several of the old Anasazi pueblos. This disc is free when you order the book from Dr. Eddins. It, by itself, is worth the price of the book. The photography is stunning. So please, go to the site above and order this book, and check the box where he asks if you want the DVD. You'll be glad you did!

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