The Holy Road

Written by Michael Blake
Review by Alice Logsdon

In 1874, the US wants to extend their railroads into the southwestern territories, but to do so they must overcome the resistance of the remaining Indian tribes. Through a misunderstanding, the Indians come to call the encroaching rails the Holy Road. Throughout the book, such instances of miscommunication between white men and tribal leaders confound efforts to make a lasting peace.

The first few chapters in this sequel to Dances With Wolves reintroduce two Comanche warriors and describe two talismans in their respective lodges. Wind In His Hair, returning from a raid into Mexico, has brought with him the long, red-haired, scalp of a white woman. Although he took it in self-defense, it makes many villagers skittish. Kicking Bird, one of those unnerved by this prize, has a medal in his lodge. He has just returned from peace talks with US representatives. Both of these items are ominous symbols of the encroaching threat to the tribe’s way of life. They also represent the equal pull within the tribe to make war and peace.

This tragic epic is related with insight and emotion. Blake hits hard, depicting intense brutality and harsh justice. He balances these scenes with those of quiet contemplation and counsel as tribal leaders seek to fathom the unfathomable. This is an anti-western, in that his sympathy lies on the side of the Comanche rather than the white man. I hope this novel reaches a wide audience.