cover image Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat

Don Coldsmith / Author University of Oklahoma Press $24.95 (27

The latest installment in Coldsmith's popular Spanish Bit Saga picks up the story of the Elk-Dog People where the last volume, Trail of the Spanish Bit, concluded. The Elk-Dog People have just endured a tornado and a lean winter, and holy man Pipe Bearer has been plagued by dreams of a horse wearing the headgear of a medicine man. When his mare bears a foal with markings that resemble such a medicine hat, Pipe Bearer casts lots to divine its meaning and finds he must go north to find answers. Disguised as a trader, he sets off with his wife, Otter, the mare and the foal in tow. It's a perilous journey, fraught with natural dangers and encounters with other (and potentially hostile) tribes. Tragedy ensues when Pipe Bearer's best friend, Lone Walker, is killed and Pipe Bearer takes in his widow. As various suitors compete for Plum Flower's hand, jealousy disrupts the harmony of the Elk-Dog People. Once again, Coldsmith demonstrates careful research into Plains Indian culture before the Indian diaspora of the 19th century. Well-plotted and a brisk read, this is a worthy addition to the story of the Elk-Dog People. (Sept.)