Monday, March 03, 2008

[Book Review] THIRTEEN MOONS by Charles Frazier


Robert Cruthirds reviews THIRTEEN MOONS by Charles Frazier (Random House, 2006)

This is the second novel by North Carolina native Charles Frazier, who won the National Book Award in 1997 for Cold Mountain. Most of the story takes place in the hills of western North Carolina. We now know this area as the Great Smoky Mountains, but in the 1820s it was the frontier between the Cherokee Nation and an expanding American republic. Will Cooper is the fictional hero of Thirteen Moons, and through his character Frazier relates the ultimately futile struggle of the Cherokee to remain in their native lands.

Will first encounters the Cherokee when he meets Featherstone and Claire while on a journey to the remote trading post that he has been assigned to run. Soon after arriving at the post he meets Bear, a Cherokee chief who eventually adopts Will. As the area becomes more populated, business at the trading post grows, and Will eventually becomes its owner. Profits from the post and other business ventures provide Will with the capital to acquire huge tracts of land in the surrounding area.

Much of the story concerns Will’s journeys, mostly on horseback, but also include his first train ride while traveling to Washington, D.C. While on a trip to visit Claire in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), Will spends a week in Memphis, and Frazier includes a short, but interesting, description of the city in the 1850s.

Frazier is a master storyteller, and he describes many interesting people and places in Thirteen Moons. I recommend this book for those interested in early American history, in particular the Cherokee removal, commonly known as the Trail of Tears.

Robert Cruthirds, Randolph Branch Library

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Thank you for the recommendation.

Did you read Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN?

What do you think of Frazier's portrayal of historical events?

Yes, I did read COLD MOUNTAIN and would recommend it even more highly than THIRTEEN MOONS. Frazier has reportedly done extensive historical research on the subjects he writes about, so I feel confident that his portrayals are accurate.
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