cover image Thunderstick


Don Coldsmith, Author Doubleday Books $15 (182p) ISBN 978-0-385-47026-1

Coldsmith's ( Walks in the Sun ) newest installment in the popular Spanish Bit Saga examines the changes in Plains Indian culture wrought by increasing contact with whites during the early years of colonization. At 17, Singing Wolf, the son of the Elk-dog People's leader Walks in the Sun, is about to become a man by engaging in his first hunt. With adulthood upon him, he thinks of courting Rain, the childhood friend whom he has always assumed he would marry. A hitch in Singing Wolf's carefully conceived plans occurs when White Feathers, a warrior from another band, arrives in the camp. Not only does the interloper show interest in Rain, but he wins status and respect because of his hunting prowess, which is enhanced by his possession of a flintlock musket--the ``thunderstick'' of the title. In an encounter with a hostile Shaved-head youth, Singing Wolf acquires a firearm of his own, but his decision to spare the boy's life imperils his people. Coldsmith's stated goal is to depict the Native Americans of this distant time as ``human beings, rather than as stereotyped `Indians.' '' Unfortunately, he all too often portrays the Elk-dog People as cliched noble savages. (June)