They call him Mr. Skye: big, tough, his own man, and the star of a new series of historical westerns. Skye leads a party of missionaries through Indian country and when they are attacked, even faith in God is no defense against a blood-thirsty enemy.
This is an excellent book. To braid together Plains Indians, Methodists, Catholics and at least one free thinker (Skye himself) as skillfully as this, a person has to be more than well-read. It takes a touch as delicate as cat whiskers to show the sources of heroism and weakness in their beliefs. I didn't see any blunders here.
I particularly liked the Methodists, who were highly assorted, and that their madman -- who could easily have become totally unlikeable -- was revealed as a man who ached and yearned for Love, but went about seeking it in all the wrong ways. The priest is a little unreal, but maybe that just sticks out because priests aren't what they used to be. In this book he is the one who pays the highest price, but that torture becomes a gift.
Probably the most moving core of the book is about marriage, which is also about commitment and ceremony. Skye's happily polygamous marriage and the Reverend Cecil's ever-renewing marriage are purely inspirational. I don't often cry when reading Westerns, but when Cecil's Esmeralda was returned from captivity, her welcome was so exquisitely described that I yearned to believe it could be true.
As always, the poetry of land and weather, now so sweet and then so deadly, penetrates the story, giving it new meanings and levels.