Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thirteen Moons

Charles Frazier has a lot to live up to. His very first novel was the highly acclaimed, National Book Award-winning Cold Mountain - a dynamo of a novel that captured the hearts of readers all over America. His second novel, Thirteen Moons, comes out in October, to what response is yet to be seen. I had an advanced reader's copy of Thirteen Moons, so I'll tell you what I think now.

Thirteen Moons is an epic tale set in nineteenth century North Carolina, among the Cherokees and the white men who have settled the land. In a memoir style, the story is told by Ben, who at the age of twelve, was sent off to manage a trading post on the edge of the Cherokee nation. As he forges close ties with the Cherokees, Ben finds family and love among them, and becomes their savior as the government tries to force them to Oklahoma. The sweep of the novel follows Ben to Washington, D.C., into the Civil War, and across the fledgling settlements of the Midwest, through dynamic technological changes and changes in attitudes. Thirteen moons refers to the lunar year, and the cycle of time plays an important role in the novel.

What makes Ben a great character is his unquestionable knowledge that he is just as much a swaggering buffoon as he is full of love, honor, and vengence. He acknowledges his flaws with as much humor as his assets.

Full of memorable characters, yarns, and the same breath-taking scenery that made Cold Mountain such a beautiful book, there is much to recommed in Thirteen Moons. Give it a try and see if you think it is a worthy second novel. I think it is.

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