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Blood of the Oak: A Mystery of Revolutionary America    by Eliot Pattison order for
Blood of the Oak
by Eliot Pattison
Order:  USA  Can
Counterpoint, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I'm a longtime fan of Eliot Pattison's exceptional Tibetan series starring ex-Inspector Shan Tao Yun, which started with The Skull Mantra. But I've also enjoyed his Colonial American stories, featuring Highlander Duncan McCallum. They began with Bone Rattler. Now, Blood of the Oak is the fourth and final episode, following Original Death.

Duncan McCallum came to the New World on a convict ship, after his Highland clan was massacred. There he was indentured to his nemesis, the series villain, British Lord Ramsey, who had grandiose ambitions for his own role on the continent. Ramsey had Duncan tutor his daughter Sarah who had been a prisoner of the tribes as a child and despises her father. Duncan and Sarah became close. He also befriended elderly Indian shaman, Nipmuc Conawago, whose tribe (like Duncan's) had been slaughtered.

This episode begins in 1765, with Stamp Tax dissent rumbling in the background. Duncan is contentedly settled in Edentown (on the western frontier) with Sarah and has little interest in politics. Then he is summoned by dying Iroquois Adanahoe, mother of all the tribes. She tells him of the theft of one of their gods, Blooddancer, and tells him that she has dreamed that Duncan will return him to her people. Soon afterwards he finds a friend, ranger captain Patrick Woolford, badly injured, and a dead Oneida. Edentown is attacked and a young woman killed.

So Duncan and Conawago head out on yet another quest, accompanied by a wild young Acadian girl, Analie, for whom lying is a habit. As always in these stories, there are attacks and betrayals at every turn. Duncan is unwittingly drawn into a spy network and treason. He and others are captured and forced to work a plantation as 'Judas slaves'. Though their treatment is brutal and vicious, Duncan gradually gathers information needed for his quest and plans an escape. But can he succeed before an old enemy destroys him and all he loves?

Blood of the Oak makes an excellent conclusion to an intriguing, thought provoking, action-packed, and very violent series. Enjoy it, and don't miss the Author's Note at the back that elaborates on the 'Scottish rebels, woodland natives, wilderness missionaries, hardscrabble farmers, soldier adventurers, and the other outcasts, , exiles and original thinkers who inhabited the colonies.'

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