cover image One Is the Sun

One Is the Sun

Patricia Nell Warren. Ballantine Books, $12.95 (535pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37042-6

Plot and character development take a backseat to morals and metaphysics in Warren's ( The Front Runner ) ponderous work set primarily in the American West during the mid-19th century. It follows a medicine woman named Earth Thunder, her devoted student and helper River Singing, and a group of Indians who gather around the wise woman as she builds a stet caps/it's capped in book/pk Medicine Wheel in Montana's Deer Lodge Valley. Their community is joined by six Germans who have traveled from Bavaria on a ``noble and dangerous quest'' to find ``the learned peoples . . . who loved the Goddess as well as the God.'' Earth Thunder's teachings advance that women should be strong and independent, and she explains how they should behave toward one another. (For example: share your knowledge with other women and don't compete for the attention of men.) Unfortunately, these well-intentioned arguments are offered in stilted prose and in a tone didactic to the point of condescension that likely will try the patience of adult readers. However, the book's uncomplicated lessons and elements of Indian mysticism may lend it some appeal among younger readers. (Apr.)