Snowbound

Richard S. Wheeler, Author
Richard S. Wheeler, Author . Forge $25.99 (302p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1662-2
Reviewed on: 01/18/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Mass Market Paperbound - 302 pages - 978-0-7653-5582-9
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-4509-7
Hardcover - 391 pages - 978-1-60285-783-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4703-6571-4
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Six-time Spur Award–winner Wheeler takes on the charismatic, unpredictable, and enigmatic 19th-century explorer John Frémont in this rich if overstuffed survival tale. The story begins in 1847 with Frémont losing a court-martial for mutiny and disobedience, but Frémont isn't down for long: his senator father-in-law gets Frémont set up to conduct a survey for a proposed railroad line connecting St. Louis and San Francisco. A revolving cast of narrators—Frémont, other historical figures, and fictional characters—chronicle the expedition into the Colorado mountains as winter begins, and it becomes apparent that they are falling behind schedule and are ever closer to starvation or freezing to death. Wheeler skillfully depicts the extreme conditions (“King was gaunt and drawn, the flesh gone from his face, his eyes sunk in pits.... Williams had crawled inside himself. There were great icicles hanging from his beard”), though the attentions of many narrators can tend toward the redundant and slow down what is otherwise a dramatic and colorful epic that should hook even those who already know how everything turns out. (Mar.)

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