cover image Lord of the Plains

Lord of the Plains

Alfred Silver. Ballantine Books, $9.95 (406pp) ISBN 978-0-345-35600-0

Pungent characterizations and settings distinguish Silver's ( Red River Story ) engrossing fictionalized account of rebellion in Canada. When Gabriel and Madelaine Dumont settle along the Saskatchewan, no land office exists to register their claims. But by the mid-1880s, railroad and telegraph lines have brought the Ottawa administration closer--and the government is selling land occupied by Indians and early settlers. Enlisting the help of Louis Riel (leader of an earlier uprising and a religious visionary), the settlers and Indians stage the Great Northwest Rebellion, pitting their knowledge of the plains against the Canadian police's superior numbers, heavy artillery and Gatling machine guns. A diverting subplot follows spunky Kitty McLean, whose family is imprisoned in a Cree camp. The author alters the chronology of some events and invents characters (notably Madelaine) where historical material is scant, but through the Dumonts and McLeans successfully reconstructs a way of life that has long since vanished. (Apr.)