The Owl Hunt

Richard S. Wheeler, Forge, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2201-2
The prolific Wheeler's sad and tragic 18th Skye's West novel (after North Star) is a crushing commentary on the government's shameful treatment of the Shoshone. It's 1878 and redoubtable series hero Barnaby Skye is dead; his son, Dirk, a half-white, half-Shoshone reservation schoolteacher, struggles to teach Indian children the white man's education. After Waiting Wolf, one of his students, has a vision from an owl that the whites will go away and the rich Shoshone life will return, Waiting Wolf re-christens himself as Owl and becomes the beloved prophet of desperate followers called Dreamers. Rumors of this movement frighten the corrupt Indian agent and the army, leading them to react in a predictably irrational and violent manner, even after Dirk's warnings that the movement is far from an uprising. Add an illicit (and chaste) romance, murderous cowboys, and a peculiar cattle rancher, and Wheeler has dished up another powerful story of cultures in conflict, misunderstandings, ignorance, and arrogance, though Barnaby's absence is sorely felt. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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