Ghost Warrior

Ghost Warrior

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by Lucia St. Clair Robson
     
 

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Some call her the Apache Joan of Arc.

For more than a century, Apaches have kept alive the memory of their hero Lozen. Lozen, valiant warrior, revered shaman, and beautiful woman, fought alongside Geronimo, Cochise, and Victorio, holding out against the armies of both the United States and Mexico.

Here, at last, is her compelling story, set in the last

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Overview

Some call her the Apache Joan of Arc.

For more than a century, Apaches have kept alive the memory of their hero Lozen. Lozen, valiant warrior, revered shaman, and beautiful woman, fought alongside Geronimo, Cochise, and Victorio, holding out against the armies of both the United States and Mexico.

Here, at last, is her compelling story, set in the last half of the nineteenth century. Orphaned sister of Victorio, Lozen has known since childhood that the spirits have chosen her to defend Apache freedom. As the U.S. army prepares to move her people to an Arizona reservation, Lozen forsakes marriage and motherhood to fight among the men. Supported by her brother and the other chiefs, Lozen proves her mettle as a soldier, reconnaissance scout, and peerless military strategist.

Rafe Collins is a young adventurer and veteran of the Mexican War. On a dangerous journey between El Paso and Santa Fe, he builds an unlikely but enduring rapport with the Warm Spring Apaches. When his bond to Lozen goes far beyond friendship, he must undertake a perilous course that will change his life forever.

A sensitive treatment of a little-known Native American figure, Ghost Warrior is a rich and powerful frontier tale with unforgettable characters.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Golden Spur Award-winner Robson (Ride the Wind) is long on frontier history and Indian lore, but short on drama in this latest, lengthy novel of life in the Old West. Covering 30 years (1850-1880) of Indian warfare between Apaches and white men in the Southwest, the story is a watered-down blend of history, romance and western adventure genres. The heroine, Lozen, is a fierce Apache woman who would rather be a warrior than a wife, a departure from Apache conventions. Lozen can see enemies in the future, a skill that allows her to ride with the likes of Cochise, Geronimo, Mangas Coloradas and her brother, Victorio. One white man who escapes Lozen's wrath is Rafe Collins, a Shakespeare-reciting teamster who weaves in and out of this tale, offering the white man's perspective. Lozen and Rafe meet frequently, but a tender moment of hesitation always keeps them from slaughtering each other. Their connection is vaguely romantic, yet Robson fails to create any spark between them. They're more like frontier saddle pals than lovers. For nearly 500 pages, Apaches and white men slaughter each other in ambushes and revenge killings, creating more bitterness and blood lust with each atrocity. The Apaches are portrayed as honorable men and women, while the whites (with few exceptions) are liars, thieves, cowards, murderers and dullards. Yet for all the violence, the action lacks energy. The only redeeming strength is Robson's detailed panorama of Apache society. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
The turbulent history of the West comes alive in this vivid story of the last days of the Apache. A woman shaman named Lozen and a sympathetic white man named Rafe Collins are the main characters. Lozen becomes a leader among the male warriors because she has the gift of "sight" and can predict the future. She becomes adept at being a horse thief and accompanies Cochise and Geronimo on their raids. Rafe is attracted to her as he sees the folly of many of the government leaders in their struggle to control the Apaches. Lozen and Rafe are central characters but other famous leaders of the West are included in the story. The culture and spirit of the Apache are vividly portrayed and readers will be drawn into this sad tale of a colorful people finally dominated. Western buffs will enjoy every page. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Tor, 592p.,
— Barbara McKee
Kirkus Reviews
Seventh in Robson's phosphorescently magnificent gallery of forgotten women whom she's dug up God knows where—even as far off as feudal Japan in The Tokaido Road. In the brook-clear historical fiction of Fearless (1998), she tells the fact-based story of Sarah Borginnis Bowman, six-foot with cayenne hair, who becomes an Army Woman with Zachary Taylor and follows him through battle after battle in the Southwest. In Mary's Land (1995), we are drawn into the timeless bravery of Margaret Brent in the settling of Maryland as she oversees tobacco crops, balances a household, and keeps a weather eye on the parliament. Now Robson has discovered Lozen, unmarried sister of Chiricahua Apache chief Victorio. Blessed with horse magic and the gifts of healing and far-sight (she can see enemies farther off than anyone else), she becomes not only the legendary and battle-hardened woman fighter of the Apaches but Victorio's wise counselor as well and his veritable right hand until his death, when she joins Geronimo. The Chiricahua are against everybody and at war with the universe, a wonderful people who bear great names: Talks A Lot, Ears So Big, He Steals Love, Flies in His Soup, and Flattened Penis. Don't miss the immensely amusing chapter "Rear Guard," in which the Apaches lift their breechclouts, "presenting their attackers with a long row of bare, brown backsides. They beat a tattoo on them, all the while hooting and shouting insults." A great main character, immense moral tragedy, all sung with full lungs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429936057
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
09/16/2008
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
94,070
File size:
1 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Ghost Warrior


By Lucia St. Clair Robson

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2002 Lucia St. Clair Robson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-3605-7



CHAPTER 1

HOOFBEATS OVERHEAD


Sister didn't know she had horse magic, but her older brother Morning Star did. That was why he brought her to the fiesta in the Mexican town of Janos, even though his friends didn't approve. Broken Foot was forty and lame besides. He didn't care much about appearances anymore, but Cousin and He Who Yawns were twenty-four. They cared a great deal. They ignored Sister, but they had the look of men who had stepped in something smelly and couldn't get it off their moccasins.

The hems of their best breechclouts reached their knees in front and the middle of the calves behind. The big silver disks called conchos decorated their wide leather belts. Their high moccasins were thickly beaded, and the upturned strip of leather on each toe was painted red. Their black hair hung loose, swaying against the backs of their thighs as they walked. Turquoise earrings dangled from the holes in their lobes. They had intended to impress everyone in Janos today, but here they were with a girl-child trailing them.

The boys resented Sister, too. When she left them guarding the horses on the outskirts of town, they had pelted her with acorns. Morning Star was sure they would pay for it later. They always did.

Probably the women who stayed in the camp upriver were yammering about her. Among the Ndee, thirteen-year-old girls did not associate with boys and men. Where his little sister was concerned, Morning Star never cared what people said. That was just as well, because she had been giving them something to talk about since she took her first tottering steps out of the cradleboard. She showed no signs of changing.

This was the first time she had seen a Mexican fiesta. As she strode through the plaza she seemed unperturbed by the noise and unimpressed by the goods laid out around her. She wore a fringed doeskin tunic over the leather skirt whose uneven hem reached below the tops of her high moccasins. She had slung her bow and fox-skin quiver across her back. A few strings of glass beads and a small bag of hodenten, the sacred cattail pollen, hung around her neck.

She had a child's mouth, with a full upper lip that curved like a double-arced bow, but someone much older looked out from her dark eyes. She had skin the deep reddish brown of the rocky bones of the mountains where her people lived. This morning she had fidgeted while Morning Star's young wife, She Moves Like Water, had combed her knee-length hair with a bundle of stiff grass. She had twisted it into a shiny black coil and secured it at the nape of Sister's neck with the curved piece of rawhide that marked her as an unmarried maiden. She Moves Like Water had tried to give Sister advice on proper behavior, but Morning Star knew she was wasting her time.

"Hola, amigos." A trio of mounted Mexicans cantered toward the four Ndee men. One of them handed Morning Star a gourd filled with pulque, but Morning Star passed it to Cousin.

Morning Star and half the men would stay sober today so they could look out for the drunk ones, but he would have refused the pulque, anyway. He did not drink when Mexicans were around. As he walked through Janos, Morning Star watched the crowds of Mexicans and Ndee men mingling to drink and to gamble. He scanned the flat roofs of the low adobe buildings, looking for the barrel of a musket. When a string of firecrackers exploded, he put a hand on the haft of his knife and looked around for Sister.

The villagers of Janos had invited the Ndee to hold council and to receive presents, even though they believed their Apache guests quite capable of murdering them. And even when they themselves would have murdered their guests if it seemed advantageous. The Mexicans and the Ndee had warred for so long that the stories passed down about it did not have a beginning. No one believed they would have an end, either.

The Ndee maintained an uneasy peace with the people of Janos in order to trade dried meat, hides, and the horses, mules, and cattle they stole from the neighboring state of Sonora. In exchange the Mexicans gave them knives, beads, blankets, and corn. The sorcery of alcohol, though, could change friendship to emnity with the flight of an insult or the flash of a knife blade.

Morning Star was relieved when they passed the last thatched hut on the outskirts of the village. On the open stretch of desert beyond, the horses milled in the corral of mesquite branches woven between uprights.

"Cimarrones," Sister murmured. Wild ones.

The mustangs were wild, all right, and the Mexicans and the Ndee flapped blankets at them and poked them with poles to make them wilder. Morning Star saw no fear in his sister's eyes, and he didn't expect to. Oblivious of the noise around her, she stood at the fence and assessed the horses.

"That one." She pointed her nose at a chunky pony the color of dried blood. He had a long neck, a large head, and crafty eyes. His delicate ears pricked forward, as though he were analyzing the situation. His wide nostrils indicated good wind.

Morning Star went to talk to the jefe, the Mexican in charge, a short man wearing straw sandals and a clean white cotton shirt and trousers. He carried a stout oak club and a coil of rope into the corral.

He shook out a loop in his rope as he stood in the eye of that storm of hooves, teeth, and tempers. With a flick of his wrist he threw the loop over the ears of Sister's selection and pulled it tight. Men ran to help him haul the horse out of the corral. They looked like a stew at a full boil, surging this way and that while the pony bucked and thrashed. Finally they secured his legs, slipped a rope over his lower jaw, and buckled a wide strap, a surcingle, around his middle. They snubbed him, trembling and wild eyed, to one of the posts set in a line and went back for another horse.

Sister held out some sugar in the palm of her hand and murmured to him. He eyed her with suspicion.

"Is that the one you're going to ride?" Cousin asked Morning Star.

"No."

Ndee usually waited for others to explain themselves if and when they wanted to, but this was different. This involved wagering.

"Which one are you going to ride?" inquired He Who Yawns.

"None of them."

Broken Foot didn't ask any questions. He watched the horse stretch out his neck and snatch the sugar from Sister's palm. He watched her take pollen from the bag around her neck and make a cross with it on his forehead. He saw her blow into the pony's nostrils; then he limped off to place a wager on him.

"Your sister will ride for you?" Cousin obviously thought Morning Star had turned foolish.

"Yes." Morning Star went off to place his own bet.

The heaps of wagered objects grew higher. The Ndee shed their necklaces, their silver armbands, and their concho belts. They threw down saddles, bridles, and blankets and everything else of any value. They weren't only betting on the winning horse. They were wagering on which riders would still be clinging to their mounts' backs at the end of the race and who would be dead, alive, or badly hurt.

Roping the other ten horses took most of the afternoon and a week's worth of sweat and swearing. By the time all the animals stood tethered in a line, the jefe's pants and shirt were no longer white and Sister was running her hands along the rust-colored horse, murmuring to soothe him. She draped her arms over his back and stood on a rock so she could lie across him. He sidestepped and looked back at her with bulging eyes, but he didn't try to bolt.

"Listos, muchachos," shouted the mustache. "A caballo."

The men holding the mustangs took a firmer grip while the riders did their best to climb aboard. Sister hiked her skirt up under her belt. She took a running start and jumped. She scrambled into a sitting position, picked up the rope that would serve as a rein, clamped her legs against his sides, and waited. A shudder passed along his spine. Sister understood why. She must have felt like a young cougar landing on him. He roached his back, gathered his feet like the stems in a handful of wildflowers, and awaited developments.

The trumpet blasted. There was a moment of stillness while the mustangs devised their strategies. The horse next to Sister promptly laid down and rolled over. The rest took off bucking and twisting, scattering onlookers or running over them.

Sister's pony and two others ran for the tall pole at the finish as though a pack of wolves snapped at their heels. Sister pulled ahead and was about to stand up on his back to show off when a shot rang out. The pony stumbled. His nose hit the ground, and his momentum carried his hindquarters up and over his head and Sister's. Sister somersaulted, landed on her feet, and ran a few steps to regain her balance.

The pony's hooves jerked, and his eyeballs rolled up. Sister squatted and ran her fingers over his chest until she found the bullet hole. None of the Ndee here possessed one of the fire sticks that spat balls of black metal. A Mexican had done this.

"Someone must have bet on one of the other two horses," Morning Star said.

Sister was outraged. "I would have won."

"Don't let them see that they've angered you. That gives them power over you. You can't change what's past, but you can learn from it. What have you learned today?"

"That I cannot trust Mexicans."

"You can never trust Mexicans."


SISTER GLARED AT NA'TANH, CORN FLOWER, SPRAWLED ON his stomach in a curdled puddle of half-digested beans and bad booze. If she put the chile powder into his breechclout now, he probably wouldn't even notice it. He looked dead, but he snored like a bear. He had made himself stupid with pulque, a brew that smelled worse than old moccasins.

She kicked the sole of his very old moccasin with the pointed toe of her own, but he only grunted. She bounced a stone off his bare buttock, taut as a drumhead. That made her feel better, but he seemed none the worse for it.

Whooping and weaving in their saddles, the drunken ones had left Janos the night before surrounded by those who had stayed sober. Morning Star had pulled her up to ride in front of him, and she had slept with her cheek resting on his war pony's mane and her arms around the horse's neck.

When they arrived in camp, most of the drinkers had slid from their horses and staggered off to fall asleep. Some of them had brought pulque home and shared it with their wives. Many of the sober ones decided to make up for lost time. The party had lasted until dawn.

Like Corn Flower, some of them hadn't made the effort to return to Janos for the second day of talks and trading. Sister's father had been one of those. When she passed his brush shelter, she heard him snoring.

He had never stopped mourning his wife, killed and scalped by Mexican bounty hunters when Sister was an infant. Morning Star had given horses, blankets, and saddles to this shaman and that one in the hope that they would cure his father's grief. Sister prayed every day, asking the all powerful spirit, Life Giver, to cure him.

Whenever women brewed a batch of tiswin from the sap of the mescal plant and announced a party, her father was the first to arrive and the last to leave. Sister would wait while he danced with the other revelers. Women whom she'd always known to be chaste would stagger off into the bushes with him. Sister's cheeks would burn as she listened to the laughter and the rustling from the darkness. In the pale light of many dawns she had helped her father home.

Sister couldn't stay sad this morning, though. The sky arched intensely blue. Butterflies floated in the palo verde trees crowding the dry streambed of the arroyo. Doves wooed in the mesquite trees. Women called softly from one family's cluster of brush-thatched shelters to another as they ground corn and mended moccasins.

When Sister reached a stand of mesquite trees, she laid out the rawhide loop of the tumpline. She began gathering limbs and placing them in one end of it. As she wandered farther away in search of firewood, she saw a barrel cactus on the sunny wall of the arroyo. Last fall's shiny yellow fruit grew in a whorl around its top.

She slid down the slope at the shallow mouth of the gully and walked downhill. The arroyo narrowed; the walls closed in overhead and sliced the bright strip of sunshine thinner. The overhanging rim threw a deep shade that cooled the air.

She reached up and picked one of the fruits. She squatted at the bottom of the cleft and rested her arms on her knees while she savored the tart juice and the crunch of the tiny black seeds packed inside.

A puff of cold wind startled her. It didn't belong here in the middle of the summer. It stirred the wisps of hair around her face. Its chill started a prickling at the nape of her neck. A roar filled her skull, a babble of voices. She stood up and raised her chin, her mouth partly open, her eyes closed.

She raised her arms to shoulder height, her palms cupped upward, as she had seen di-yin, holy men, do. She held them there and waited for the Wind Spirit to speak to her. When it did, the voice-that-wasn't-a-voice resonated in the bones of her face like the flutter of leaves in the cottonwood. She turned slowly until dread stopped her as surely as a stone cliff. She faced into the approaching evil and imagined Ghost Owl swooping toward her, come to steal her soul. Chills chased along her spine; her heart raced.

When the rumbling started she thought it was the Wind Spirit again, but then the ground began to tremble. Dirt fell from the arroyo's rim onto her shoulders and outstretched arms. The rumble fragmented into the beat of hooves. She opened her eyes as the first horse reached the edge of the gorge and leaped it. More followed. She saw the tensed muscles of their foam-flecked legs and the wide cinches under their taut bellies as they passed overhead. Drops of their sweat fell on her. She saw the clumsy wooden stirrups, each containing a dusty black boot.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Ghost Warrior by Lucia St. Clair Robson. Copyright © 2002 Lucia St. Clair Robson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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