In Charles Frazier's follow-up to the runaway bestseller, Cold Mountain , comes the story of one man's remarkable life, spanning a century of relentless change. At the age of twelve, an orphan named Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent on a journey through the wilderness to the edge of the Cherokee Nation, the uncharted white space on the map. Will is a bound boy, obliged to run a remote Indian trading post. As he fulfills his lonesome duty, Will finds a father in Bear, a Cherokee chief, and is adopted by him and his people, developing relationships that ultimately forge Will's character. All the while, his love of Claire, the enigmatic and captivating charge of volatile and powerful Featherstone, will forever rule Will's heart. In a distinct voice filled with both humor and yearning, Will tells of a lifelong search for home, the hunger for fortune and adventure, the rebuilding of a trampled culture, and above all an enduring pursuit of passion.
The recent resurgence in historical fiction arguably dates from the critical and popular success of North Carolinian Charles Frazier's memorable first novel, Cold Mountain. A romantic epic in the classic mold, this richly detailed sag of a Civil War deserter's homeward odyssey won the 1997 National Book Award and inspired a haunting 2003 feature film.
Classical precedent likewise informs and shapes Frazier's long-awaited second novel, in which a rootless an restless protagonist, like Cold Mountain's embattled hero, Inman, expends the energies of a long lifetime seeking permanent reunion with the only woman he'll ever love, who love shim in return yet moves in and out of his yearning orbit during the decades they are apart, but never entirely trusts him nor can bring herself to share his patchwork experience.
Like the beleaguered heroes of the books that are his lifelong sustenance, he's a visionary fixated on an ever-receding ideal: the noble knight Lancelot, cursed and burdened by his own divided and enervated loyalties.
She is Claire Featherstone, the ethereally beautiful young wife of a "white" (i.e. half-breed) Indian who prospers as a landowners and patriarch in the Cherokee Nation that stretches westward from the Carolinas to Oklahoma.
He is Will Cooper, an orphan and "bound boy" sold by his relatives to an "antique gentleman" who places adolescent Will in a moribund trading post on the edge of "the (Cherokee) Nation"--from which humble beginning he earns a vast fortune, bonds closely with his Cherokee neighbors and mentors (his conflicted friendship with the mercurial Featherstone overshadowed by his filial devotion to the equally prominent chief known as Bear), studies law and represents "his people" against the repressive policies of Indian-hating President Andrew Jackson, becomes a state senator and an itinerant buffer between the red men's and white men's worlds, all the while pursuing the memory, the dream and the promise of the elusive Claire.
Thirteen Moons brings this vanished world thrillingly to life, retelling the agonizing stories of "the Removal" (of Indians from their ancestral lands) and the lie of "Reconstruction"; creating literally dozens of heart-stopping word pictures (e.g. autumns display "a few stunted pumpkins still glowing in the fields an a few persistent apples hanging red in the skeletal orchards"); building unforgettable characterizations of the sorrow-laden everyman Will (whom we first, then finally, glimpse as a reclusive anachronism, weathered by "a near century of living"), unpredictable Featherstone and stoical Beat (a character Faulkner might have created), Claire who belongs to no man, ancient medicine woman Granny Squirrel, and all the uprooted and dispossessed souls enduring "the days and nights, the thirteen moons" of each accumulating year, while making their final journey "to the Nightland".
One of the great Native American--and American--stories, and a great gift to all of us, from one of our very best writers.