Rosanne Bittner, author of nearly fifty historical romances, takes a step into the straight historical novel with Mystic Visions. Narrated primarily by Sioux women, this stand-alone middle book of a trilogy depicts the upheaval in the world of the Oglala Sioux during the 19th century.
In 1836, the Oglala live their lives as they have for centuries, following the migration of the buffalo and fighting with Pawnee, Crow, and Shoshoni for the best hunting grounds. The white man is a distant threat to all but Buffalo Dreamer, a holy woman, troubled by dreams of blue-coated soldiers, and her husband Rising Eagle, whose visions foretell great battles. By 1851, the trickle of white men into the west becomes a torrent as easterners stream through Oglala land, destroying good grazing ground and thinning the buffalo herds. Buffalo Dreamer’s dreaded blue-coated soldiers follow in their wake, forcing Rising Eagle and the white men into violent confrontation.
Bittner does an outstanding job stripping away the conventions of genre to write in an unsentimental way about the lives of the Sioux. In this novel, bad things happen to good people, endings can be bittersweet and there are no apologies about the Sioux’s way of living or fighting or worshiping. I could quibble that the main characters waxed a mite too poetic about Mother Earth, but this nick in the gem is balanced by Bittner’s even-handed depiction of both Sioux and Caucasian as humans of foible and folly. The step from straight romance into straight historical fiction can be a shaky one; with Mystic Visions Rosanne Bittner leaps with confidence.