cover image Plainsmen #01: Sioux Dawn: The Fetterman Massacre, 1866

Plainsmen #01: Sioux Dawn: The Fetterman Massacre, 1866

Terry C. Johnston. St. Martin's Press, $3.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-92100-2

Johnston's (Titus Bass trilogy) historical novel focuses on the Indian Wars of the latter half of the 19th century. Hero Seamus Donegan is an outsider from Ireland who transcends unjust charges of cowardice to earn the respect and admiration of his comrades-in-arms as they struggle to establish a fort in hostile Sioux country. His heart as big as Montana, Donegan is the only likable character in this strangely schizophrenic chronicle, in which the author's allegiance switches confusingly between the white man and the red man. Readers will find Johnston's account narrow-minded, the action disjointed and badly paced. The self-righteous army officers lack vision; they are motivated only by the desire for personal advancement. The Indians are portrayed as bloodthirsty freaks who delight in mutilation and murder, rather than as a race of men and women battling to save their cultural identity. The author's preoccupation with gory details and his penchant for schmaltzy dialogue make this a queasy read indeed. (May)