Peace Chief

Robert J. Conley, Author St. Martin's Press $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-19314-0
Set in the 17th century, Conley's (War Woman, etc.) engaging new novel continues his exploration of Cherokee history. Having accidentally killed another Cherokee in battle, Young Puppy is forced to move to the sacred town of Kituwah lest the dead man's clan members kill him to restore balance to the tribe. If he can overcome his exuberance and stay in the sanctuary until the next new year's ceremony, Young Puppy will be forgiven--but that is almost a full year away. Time passes slowly for him, and he especially misses beautiful Guwisti, to whom he is pledged. Finally, the celebration of the New Moon marks him as the new apprentice to Ahulil, Kituwah's spiritual leader. But there are troubles in the town as a group of French visitors plot to overthrow their captain, who is friendly to the Cherokee, and the Shawnees invade Cherokee borders to the North. And when Young Puppy, spiritually reborn and renamed Comes Back to Life, is made the Peace Chief of a new defensive outpost, he and his people must confront more threats from the slave-catching allies of the Spaniards. Though Conley has a tendency to overexplain the feelings of his characters and fails to make it credible that not a single Cherokee dies during the book's many battles, his detailed descriptions of Cherokee ceremonies and rich use of myth make the novel a worthy addition to his large body of work. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Paperback - 340 pages - 978-0-8061-3368-3
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