Picking up where she left readers in Mystic Dreamers, the initial volume in this series, Bittner explores the efforts of holy woman Buffalo Dreamer and her warrior husband, Rising Eagle, to fend off encroaching white settlers in the Lakota tribe's Black Hills. The narrative begins in 1836 and spans more than a decade. The heart of the book is the evolving relationship between the Lakota couple as well as the fate of their children, two of whom succumb in a smallpox epidemic introduced by the settlers. Rising Eagle survives smallpox, vowing to avenge his children's deaths. Also central to the story is an Oglala woman who now lives among whites, named Florence. She once loved Rising Eagle, but married an abusive white man, became an alcoholic and gave her son, Little Wolf, to Rising Eagle to raise as his own. When Lakota warriors attack white settlers traveling across buffalo country, Rising Eagle rapes a white woman, Mary Higgins, brings her back as a slave and also captures the woman's 10-year-old blond daughter, whom he renames Yellow Bonnet. Eventually traded back to the white settlers, Mary leaves Yellow Bonnet behind, as well as a newborn son she bears to Rising Eagle, whom Florence, now married to a kind preacher, raises. Bittner's descriptions of Lakota life are impeccably researched, with impressive scenes of visions and ceremonies. But her Lakota characters are all highly idealized, to the point where Bittner justifies Rising Eagle's brutal rape and kidnapping as a culturally viable tactic of war, further portraying the rape victim as weak, hypocritical and self-absorbed. Most of the settlers are treated as one-dimensional perpetrators, while the Lakota are given full range of emotion and spiritual depth. The result is an unbalanced tale stumbling when describing interaction between white and Lakota characters, but bringing a variety of intriguing Native American characters to life. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000 Release date: 05/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 341 pages - 978-0-7653-5938-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-8125-6542-3
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