THE SPANISH BIT SAGA #21
By Don Coldsmith
Bantam, April 1994
Originally published by Doubleday, June 1993
Singing Wolf has reached his seventeenth summer, and the time has come to prove himself as a hunter…and a lover. But Singing Wolf has a rival in the hunt for buffalo and in the courtship of the beautiful woman called Rain. He is a handsome stranger from the eastern band of the People, and he has brought a weapon of extraordinary power, magic, and danger: the Thunderstick. Their enemies already have the death-dealing muskets, and if the People are to survive they must have them, too. To learn the way of the Thunderstick, Singing Wolf must overcome his jealousy and accept the teaching of White Feathers…even as their love for the same woman threatens to destroy them and their clans.
Many of the previous Spanish Bit Saga books have dealt with discovery of new lands and people, this entry in this superb series changes direction a little as this is a tale of acceptance of new ways that revolve around the Thunderstick.
Don Coldsmith fills his story with wonderful imagery, of awe for this new weapon and the fear of not having any of these muskets meaning the People could become easy prey for those who do. So the whole of the band set out to trade for these weapons and in doing so will discover that there are many new things being produced that will change their way of life in the near future such as metal traps for instance.
Most of the story is told through Singing Wolf, a much troubled young man who battles to hate White Feathers, a man he finds admirable but is intensely jealous of as Rain seems to welcome his advances. The situation isn’t helped when Wolf finds himself in debt to White Feathers.
There are a number of tense situations such as Wolf’s near death during a buffalo hunt, and later, the mistrust of the intentions of a band of strangers who become unwelcome guests of the People.
I found this to be a great entry into the series, an easy read that left me eager for more, so I guess I’ll be picking up the next book very soon.