The Dark Way

Robert J. Conley, Author Doubleday Books $15 (179p) ISBN 978-0-385-41933-8
Like The Way of the Priests , this taut second installment of the Real People series draws on Cherokee legend. Here Conley turns to the revolt against the Cherokee priests, one of the most famous episodes in the history of the tribe. A drought has gripped the land, and the priests, who intercede with the spirits to keep the Real People in balance in the middle world, are becoming desperate as the people have begun to question their authority, behavior and motives. In a final gamble to bring rain, the chief priest decides to revive the ancient practice of human sacrifice, and allows his homosexual lover, the priest Two Heads, to choose the victim. Two Heads selects Corn Flower, wife of his onetime friend Edohi. But the gruesome act has no effect--except to appall the people, who band behind Edohi in a bloody rebellion. Although Conley's decision to cast two gay man as arch-villains seems gratuituous, the novel is otherwise genuinely dramatic. Conley is meticulous in his depiction of Cherokee life before they encountered Europeans, and his use of material from Cherokee oral tradition, including tales of the rabbit-trickster Jidsu, reinforces the novel's authenticity. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
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