cover image Cheyenne Raiders

Cheyenne Raiders

Robert Jordan, Jackson O'Reilly. Forge, $23.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86486-6

Long before Jordan (The Path of Daggers) became a bestselling fantasy novelist, he wrote swashbucklers and westerns under the pseudonyms Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly. Forge released the O'Neal 1981 The Fallon Pride in hardcover in 1996; now the O'Reilly 1982 western receives the same treatment. Only Jordan's cult status can explain why. Childishly imagined, if smoothly written, this tale of horse raids, grizzlies, buffalo, sagebrush and gold is a curiosity rather than a lost gem. In 1837, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sends 25-year-old Yale grad Thomas Benton McCabe to report on the life and culture of the Cheyenne. (McCabe is fleeing a Boston socialite who wants to marry him for his money.) McCabe has barely crossed the Arkansas River before he saves the life of Spotted Fox, a Cheyenne brave with a broken leg. The grateful chief presents him with a tepee and a woman, and invites him to live with the tribe. Hardly breaking a sweat, ""Mack Cabe"" becomes the unwitting hero of a horse-stealing raid on the Utes; his adopted tribe gives him the name Horse Runner. Before he can learn to say kemo sabe, he has fallen in love with another maiden, Night Bird Woman, and must therefore fight Three Hatchets, the warrior she is promised to. A buffalo hunt, hand-to-hand combat, marriage, the Sun Dance ordeal, a gold strike, a grizzly bear, comeuppance for the greedy Bostonian and miscellaneous adventures ensue as the youthful Jordan/O'Reilly leaves no pulp cliche unused. Fans seeking earnest, latter-day Zane Grey clones might just enjoy it. (Feb.)