Panther Across the Star, Fallen Leaf Books, e-book copyright and written by Lon Brett Coon.
Prologue: In a broken down house in Oklahoma in the year 2023 Myaka is at the height of frustration. He is the great grandson of the long line of Panther Across the Sky, Chief of the Shawnee Indian tribe. As hereditary leader, he is afraid for his people: “How many times can a peoples’ hope be torn from them before it goes out forever? I don’t know if I can bear that burden. It crushes my bones and chains my soul.” He is a desperate soul who drowned in a river of fear. He smashes the mirror with his fists as well as any other glass wear available. His mother tells him all eventually will be alright but too immersed within himself, he grabs a blanket against the chill and wanders out into the night. He encounters a group of people sharing fun, wine and talk around a campfire on the beach. They invite him over, are a little startled because easy relationships are difficult between people of their culture and his. However, they equate well and upon their urging he tells them a story. The tale is based fundamentally on the life of the purportedly wise Shawnee Indian chief Tecumseh and his attempts to form a confederacy of Indian nations to stop the encroaching white man. He is presented as a man who wanted peace for all with none overriding others in spite of seeing his father brutally killed by white men who had invaded Shawnee territory. The tale continues with numerous episodes of his life, some based on actual activities, others are conjecture including his saving the lives of three intergalactic persons who crash in their spaceship near his band of warriors – an incident purportedly to be found in Shawnee legend. This volume of the anticipated series ends with an epic white/Redman battle. An epilogue follows where Myaka finishes his story to the uneasy group of the rape of the Indian nations by the constantly encroaching white men with their incessant lies, retractions and overwhelming military resources and concludes: “The Reservation – a token gift to the savages that holds up American humanity.” He walks away, but the reader is given to understand that somehow with this catharsis, the fifteen year old boy has grown to become a man and the reader understands that the saga is about to continue.
Discussion: The author has provided a historical novel with a message somewhat similar to the earlier written books describing the fall of the Cherokee Nation but with an interesting sci-fi addition. The body of the tale is well-written, the action is abundant and graphically detailed and follows the life of the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh with a slight historical error, unnoticeable to other than a very few American Indian aficionados. From the viewpoint of a reader who has spent a fair amount of time in and around reservations, the housing description and Myaka’s actions are particularly well done. The epilogue does not seem to fit as well. It somehow seems to this reviewer like a prepared paper to enforce a point that already has been well presented in the body of story. (An aside perhaps of some interest to a few readers –the name Myaka means Turtle.)
4* Enjoyable historical with an interesting sci-fi inclusion.