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Thirteen Moons    by Charles Frazier order for
Thirteen Moons
by Charles Frazier
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

One of the problems with Charles Frazier's new book is that the beauty of the words he chooses and uses so well diverts one's attention from the story. His descriptions of the Alleghany Mountain range grip the reader so that one can quite easily imagine the people in his story striding the trails, forging across the streams and breaking their way through underbrush.

The other problem is that the story is so engrossing that it is hard to take a moment to savor the words Frazier uses to tell it. His life lessons seem so natural. His observations on life in general are simple and the way it is. I got caught up in his anger at the United States Government's treatment of the Indians.

Will Cooper, thirteen-years-old in the early 1880s and bound over by his parents to work seven years running a trading post deep in the mountains, rose above his beginnings to become a man of some note in what he felt was now his home territory. Bear, an Indian chief, took him in as his own and Will devoted his life to helping what had now become his people.

The story of Thirteen Moons, by the author of the smash hit Cold Mountain, is told in Will's voice beginning from the time he left the only home he knew for the wilderness he didn't know. Knowing he was in essence sold for his labor for seven years, Will nevertheless strove to achieve more in life than he thought he was destined for, and became a force to reckon with. His love of reading - including devouring a set of law books he took in trade - made him eligible to conduct business as a lawyer. He eventually ended up in Washington trying to obtain what had been promised the Indians he called family.

Will Cooper lived life according to his own standards.

And of course, there is a woman in the picture. How Frazier handles that is tantalizing. The touch of mystery that Claire exudes permeates Will's life. Is there a moral? Maybe that no matter how hard life can get, there is always tomorrow. This is a very good story very well written.

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