Spanish Jack

Written by Robert J. Conley
Review by Rachel A Hyde

This is the eleventh book in the acclaimed Real People series that describes the history of the Cherokee Nation (“The Real People”) from the early 16th century on.

This book starts in 1841. Jack Spaniard is a bitter man after his people, the Chickamauga, are vanquished by the Cherokee Nation. They have been removed from their own land to that already occupied by the Osage, responsible for killing Jack’s young wife. The Osage are Jack’s mortal enemies until Jack befriends an Osage brave after a fight. When Jack is rescued after being robbed by white settlers, his view of the world expands.

All this describes too baldly the plots of this book and conveys nothing about what makes Conley’s work so compulsively readable. Conley is a wonderful storyteller with a way of writing that made me think of folktales, a simple straightforward style that suits the material and somehow conveys the Cherokee way of life. He packs a lot of story into a short novel; Jack’s adventures with riverboat gamblers, braves, white settlers and remorseless villains make for page-turning reading. I can recommend this series for its perceptions about Native Americans, likeable characters and plainly told but exciting stories that aren’t gratuitously violent but aren’t coy about telling it like it was either. Highly recommended – when is book twelve coming out?