War Womanby Robert J. Conley, Robbert J. Conley
War Woman, a brave, headstrong, clever Cherokee, is believed by many in her town to be a witch. Having heard stories about the Spanish, and believing there is great profit to be made by trading with them, she leads a small band of youths on the treacherous road to La Florida. This journey, blessed with success and marred by terrible tragedy, marks the beginning of War Woman's own personal journey as she leads her people by example and by guidance through terrifying times.
Author Biography: Robert J. Conley is the author of ten novels in the Real People series. A three-time winner of the Spur Award and Oklahoma Writer of the Year in 1999, Conley was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame in 1996. He was named Writer of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers in 1999. He lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Young Whirlwind becomes a witch in order to compensate for the ridicule she receives because her father was a Spaniard. She demonstrates her supernatural prowess by taming rattlesnakes and tornadoes. On a self-motivated expedition to open trade between her village of New Town and the Spanish colonists in Florida, she establishes relations with a benevolent commandant; but then her people are attacked by a wicked Spanish captain and his henchmen. Whirlwind proves her war-like abilities and is soon renamed War Woman. Twenty quiet years pass, and then the Spanish, in search of gold, arrive in New Town. The peaceful Cherokee cooperate reluctantly in the quest. Their fear of prolonged contact with the Europeans seem borne out when some of their young men, including Little Spaniard, War Woman's twin brother, fall helplessly into alcoholism. In the meantime, however, War Woman marries one of the Spanish traders, and the two peoples maintain a wary peace. The plot jumps forward again, to the moment when War Woman, now very old, uses her powers and wisdom to help her people struggle against the encroachment of English colonists from Jamestown. Though their victories are satisfying, they are not permanent, and the fate of the Cherokees seems sealed.
Throughout the book, characterization lags behind a plodding plot, wooden dialogue, and little convincing historical detail. The Cherokee are universally brave, strong, handsome, noble, moral, and honest; the Europeans are avaricious, lecherous, crude, insensitive, cowardly, and criminal. There's much idealization here, but very little compelling description.
Meet the Author
Robert J. Conley is the author of ten novels in the Real People series, The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories, and Mountain Windsong, all available in paperback from the University of Oklahoma Press. A three-time winner of the Spur Award and Oklahoma Writer of the Year in 1999, Conley was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame in 1996. He was named Writer of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers in 2000 for Cherokee Dragon.
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