Victorio's War

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Jim Doolen discovered his father's fate in Written in Blood and met Billy the Kid in Ghost Moon. Now, in the final installment of The Desert Legends Trilogy, he's a scout for the Army in the middle of a brutal war to force Victorio's Apaches onto a reservation far from their traditional lands. Deeply troubled by the violence he's witnessed and been a part of, and having lost so many friends, both white and Indian, Jim feels trapped between the two worlds he's encountered over the past three years. Captured by his...

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Victorio's War

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Jim Doolen discovered his father's fate in Written in Blood and met Billy the Kid in Ghost Moon. Now, in the final installment of The Desert Legends Trilogy, he's a scout for the Army in the middle of a brutal war to force Victorio's Apaches onto a reservation far from their traditional lands. Deeply troubled by the violence he's witnessed and been a part of, and having lost so many friends, both white and Indian, Jim feels trapped between the two worlds he's encountered over the past three years. Captured by his nemesis Ghost Moon and forced to flee with an Apache band of warriors, Jim is only saved from a slow and torturous death when his old friend Wellington adopts him as his son. But now he's on the wrong side. Will he be branded a traitor? Or killed in a battle with the 10th US Cavalry or the Mexican Army? Jim finds his loyalties now divided, and he begins to understand the plight of his captors. But as supplies and ammunition run out, Jim's fate is tied to that of the doomed Apache warriors and survival seems unlikely.

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Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
"Wilson is a self-confessed history addict, and his enthusiasm for creating believable stories about the past, as well as his attention to detail, has been obvious throughout the series. Victorio's War seems more realistic and authentic than many other novels about this time period, and it keeps the setting lively and entertaining for the (mostly) boys who will fall in love with the idea of a teenager on a momentous adventure. "
"Wilson is skilled at bestowing upon [his characters] grand, memorable gestures. This is a fine time dodging arrows along the sunbaked trail."
Resource Links
"This third volume of John Wilson's Desert Legends trilogy is every bit as well done as the first two...Wilson's seeming asides and occasional real historical references merely entice the reader to look further and more closely at what is presented before him...[A] well-paced tale."
Tri State YA Book Review Committee
"Readers will smell the dust, hear the whizzing bullets and arrows, and experience the conflicted loyalties that are all part of Jim's story...An outstanding fast-paced tour of the Old West that will appeal to all ages."
VOYA - Katie Sadowski
John Wilson's The Desert Legends trilogy, chronicling Doolen's experiences in the American Southwest, concludes with Victorio's War. In keeping with the theme of the trilogy, this volume is all about Jim's story—his experiences, travels, observations, and the stories of others he has encountered. The Apaches have taught him the value of one's personal story—how it can define your past and influence your future. As a scout for the US Calvary, Jim is thrust into the battle between the soldiers and the Apache warriors who, led by Victorio, do not want to be forced onto a reservation far from their home. With friends and foes in both the US Calvary and amongst the Apaches, Jim presents the good and bad of both sides. There are no heroes in Wilson's books, nor are there villains. The outcome is obvious—the army will overcome the Apaches, but that does not keep the reader from hoping for a peaceful conclusion. This easy read has a fast moving plot and complex characters making it perfect for reluctant readers, as well as fans of historical fiction and westerns. It will probably do best when book talked, but the themes of right and wrong, discussion of death, and the message of hope will be engaging and rewarding. Reviewer: Katie Sadowski
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Jim Doolen, a young Canadian working as a United States army scout, spends three days, October 19, 1880 through October 21, 1880, with Santiago, an elderly Mexican aristocrat who is an old friend. He has just been released by a Mexican army band that had captured him, along with sixty-eight Apache women and children, as he rode with a band of Apaches under the command of Bidu-ya, known to the Americans as Victorio. The Mexicans free him because he saved the life of a young Mexican boy and because they don't know quite what to do with him. As he is saddling his horse, he is greeted by Santiago, and he gladly goes with him to a hotel where he begins to tell the tale of his most recent adventures. Jim has been riding with Lieutenant Fowler's 10th Cavalry troop, a part of the Buffalo Soldiers—black men who had fought on the Union side in the Civil War. In September 1879, Jim rode out to Blazer's Mill in New Mexico Territory to determine whether there was trouble between white settlers and Victorio's Apaches. When he got there, he renewed his friendship with Wellington, another Apache, who took him to meet Victorio, his warrior sister Lozen, and Ghost Moon, an old enemy of Jim's. Then Lieutenant Fowler arrived and, though his intentions were good, the Apaches realized he could not protect them. The Apaches left the area, and Fowler's troop was ultimately ordered to pursue them when reports came in of fighting between Apaches and settlers. In the mountains, where the Apaches had the advantage, a large number of soldiers were killed. Months later, the 10th Cavalry was in Texas, and Victorio's band was moving back and forth across the Mexican border. In the fighting that ensued in August 1880, Fowler was killed and Jim was captured by the Apaches and given to Wellington to take the place of his son. Two months later, after a raid on a Mexican village, Jim fought with Ghost Moon to keep him from killing the young Mexican boy. A few days later, the Mexican army attacked and killed the Apache warriors. Jim's story to Santiago ends with Jim, the women, and the children being taken captive. Santiago's last gift is enough money for Jim to buy one of the captive children at the slave auction and take her home to her people at the reservation at Blazer's Mill. The book is the third in the "Desert Legends" trilogy.
Kirkus Reviews
A sad tale threaded with deaths, regrets and the importance of memory and story concludes this three volume narrative of a young Canadian wanderer in the Old West. A year after parting from Bill "Billy the Kid" Bonney and taking up a new job scouting for a troop of Buffalo Soldiers, Jim Doolen finds himself caught between friends in the military and friends riding with the Apaches they are chasing. Jim gets all too close to ambushes and atrocities on both sides before being captured. He is saved by his mystic old mentor Too-ah-yay-say from being killed out of hand by his enemy Ghost Moon and held captive until a final massacre by Mexican soldiers. As in previous episodes, Wilson hangs his plot on actual events and characters--most notable among the latter the great Chiricahua leader Victorio (Bidu-ya) and his strong warrior-prophet sister, Lozen. Jim's bitter reflections on the hard fates that have befallen nearly all of the good and worthy people he has met in his travels give his account a weary, valedictory tone, though plans to convey one of the massacre's few surviving children back to the reservation give him a final task and a glimmer of hope that he's serving the future in a small way. Despite fair measures of bloodshed and gunfire, all the long thoughts and dusty desert trails will make the pacing seem slow to readers who haven't already thrilled to Jim's earlier adventures. (Historical fiction. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554698820
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, John Wilson grew up on the Isle of Skye and outside Glasgow without the slightest idea that he would ever write books. After a degree in Geology from St. Andrews University, he worked in Zimbabwe and Alberta before taking up writing full-time and moving out to Lantzville on Vancouver Island in 1991. John spends significant portions of his year travelling across the country telling stories from his books. For more information, visit

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Read an Excerpt

Victorio nods. "And what will you pay for this boy's life?"

    "Pay?" I ask in confusion.

    "Would you pay your life for his?"

    "I...I don't know," I stammer.

    "Then you must decide, Busca. Ghost Moon wishes to kill the child, and you wish to spare him. Are you prepared to fight to save him?"

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book was really slow. The descriptions were very vivid, but

    This book was really slow. The descriptions were very vivid, but almost to the point where they were too much. The story was ok, but it found myself uninterested in most of it. I did find four pages close to the middle of the book that were simply brilliant (during a time when the main character is talking to the Indians). However, I felt that the author could have spent a little more time on character development as it took me forever to figure out whether Wellington was an Indian.

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