Written in Blood

Overview

Set in the harsh desert world of the Arizona Territory and northern Mexico during the 1870s, Written in Blood, the first installment of the Desert Legends Trilogy, follows young Jim Doolen as he attempts to find some trace of the father who abandoned his family ten years earlier. As he travels through a scorched landscape very different from the lush West Coast forests of his home, Jim crosses paths with an assortment of intriguing characters, including an Apache warrior, a cave-dwelling mystic, an old Mexican ...

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Written in Blood

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Overview

Set in the harsh desert world of the Arizona Territory and northern Mexico during the 1870s, Written in Blood, the first installment of the Desert Legends Trilogy, follows young Jim Doolen as he attempts to find some trace of the father who abandoned his family ten years earlier. As he travels through a scorched landscape very different from the lush West Coast forests of his home, Jim crosses paths with an assortment of intriguing characters, including an Apache warrior, a cave-dwelling mystic, an old Mexican revolutionary and a mysterious cowboy. And with each encounter he learns something more of the strange world he has entered and adds one more link in a chain that leads back to his father-and back to a dark, violent past. As his story approaches its thrilling conclusion in a ruined Mexican hacienda, Jim comes to realize that his father's life was much more complex than he had imagined, and that, in discovering his past, he has opened the way to his future.

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Editorial Reviews

keenreaders.org
"Wilson is a talented writer, hooking readers within the first few pages of his novel and carrying them along almost effortlessly through the barren lands of Mexico and the Arizona Territory...This first installation is a perfect beginning to what is sure to be an enthralling trilogy that will invite young people into an older world with incredibly relevant contemporary themes."
www.keenreaders.org
"Wilson is a talented writer, hooking readers within the first few pages of his novel and carrying them along almost effortlessly through the barren lands of Mexico and the Arizona Territory...This first installation is a perfect beginning to what is sure to be an enthralling trilogy that will invite young people into an older world with incredibly relevant contemporary themes."
Booklist
"Told in a terse, present-tense narrative, James' adventures will thrill all fans of traditional pulp-style oaters."
Tri State YA Book Review Committee
"The story is very well written and will appeal to young readers, especially boys. It is full of tension and adventure...Recommended."
Resource Links
"Those readers of westerns and historical adventure who like a mix of action and information (actually quite a large set of readers) will be very taken with this book."
CM Magazine
"Has all the markers of a classic Western...Wilson's writing is vivid."
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
In 1877, sixteen-year-old Jim Doolen leaves his home in British Columbia to travel to Mexico in hopes of finding his father who left home when Jim was only six. Jim has only a letter left by his father to guide him. References to Don Alfonso Ramirez and Casa Grandes lead Jim to Mexico. Along the way he is robbed by scalp hunters and is left without his horse. He is assisted by a wise old Apache who gives him the name Busca, or Seeker. He later meets a former Mexican revolutionary who provides assistance. Jim collects stories as he learns bits of information from others that will lead him to his father. By the time he arrives in Casa Grandes and learns the shocking story of his family, Jim has grown wiser and tougher, both physically and emotionally. While the outcome is not what he hoped for, the knowledge frees Jim to set off on his own adventures. The author emphasizes the importance of storytelling as a way of preserving history. Graphic descriptions of scalping techniques and gunfights may be disturbing to some readers. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—"This is a world whose history is written in blood" 16-year-old Jim Doolen observes as he makes his way across Arizona toward the Mexican border. The year is 1877, and Jim has traveled from his home in British Columbia to find his father, who left 10 years earlier, leaving behind only a cryptic note referencing a shadowy past and a hacienda owned by a Don Alfonzo Ramirez. Jim's journey causes him to cross paths with bandits, an Apache warrior, and other colorful figures, all of whom share stories of their experiences on the brutal, violent frontier—a history, Jim comes to realize, that is inextricably tied to his own search. The tensions among American, Mexican, and Native factions are well drawn, and Wilson pulls no punches regarding the cruelty of the new world into which Jim finds himself thrown. However, the slow start and somewhat meandering narrative may make this a difficult sell to anyone but dedicated Western and historical-fiction fans.—Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
Kirkus Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Jim has left his 1870s home in Canada and, based on clues from an old letter, is traveling to the Mexican border village of Casas Grandes in search of his long-missing father. Along the vividly depicted trail, he encounters several lightly sketched characters who offer him their stories. Each one usefully provides hints to his father's past. Some, like Ed, are purely, over-the-top, evil. Others—cave-dwelling, half-Apache Too-ah-yay-say; amiable, elderly Mexican Santiago; and Nah-kee-tats-an, another Apache, who conveniently shows up precisely when most needed—provide key information and wisdom as Jim draws his own conclusions about his mysterious father. Violent, graphically depicted death abounds. Near the climax, Ed's exposition on the past goes on for too many pages to be fully believable, and much of the dialogue is similarly expository. Still, chapters are short and action filled, Jim is a likable character and reluctant readers will find this to be a fast-paced, easy-to-swallow tale of the Old West. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554692705
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.30 (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 johnwilsonauthor.com.

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Read an Excerpt

I stare over my fire to the west, across the desert plain I crossed today, at the barely discernable black outline of the mountains where I camped last night. The tiny flickering campfire out on the plain is the only light. Every night for the past five days I have seen this fire as darkness falls. There is probably a man sitting by it looking up at the light of my fire. Who is he?

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