Moon in the Water
1830: Baby Lozen of the Warm Springs Apache, sister of the great leader Victorio, is discovered to have the Power of the Blue Hands, which will warn her when the enemy is near. As she grows older, she is unusual in other ways: a tomboy who trains with the boys, goes on raids, and later is admitted to the war council. She is a full participant in the Apaches’ struggle against both Mexicans and Americans. Many times the tribe agrees to stop raiding, but the Americans repeatedly break their promises to provide supplies, and Lozen’s band must raid or starve.
Even non-students of American history can guess the sad outcome of the story. Lozen was a real person, and Gordon successfully portrays the Apaches’ wrongs. But other parts of the book are less successful. The real-life Lozen supposedly never married because of a brief attachment to a visitor from another tribe. Gordon’s use of this part of her story leads to a trite final page. I found a fight scene in which Lozen singlehandedly kills four men and a horse in rapid succession a bit hard to believe. At one point, Gordon tries to show that Lozen regrets killing, and yet in later scenes she tortures captives with enthusiasm, taking two days to kill one of them. If that was his attempt to make her a more sympathetic character for modern sensibilities, it would have been better to let his portrayal of injustices against the Apaches create the sympathy. An epilogue telling the reader which parts were historical and which fiction would have helped.
There are the seeds of a good book here. Gordon has done extensive research into the Apache way of life. But it will take more plot and character polishing to make this novel stand out.