The Last Great American Magic
The life of the great Shawnee warrior-leader Tecumseh and his brother the Prophet form the imaginative center of L. C. Fiore’s beautifully designed novel set mostly in the wilds of 18th-century Ohio Country, where ancient Native American civilizations and ways of life are being increasingly threatened by the westward expansion of white settlers, preachers, and soldiers. In their different ways, both Tecumseh and his brother dream of uniting all the tribes and repelling these mounting threats to their existence, and Fiore’s well-researched fictional treatment takes the familiar story of Tecumseh’s life (laid out so well, for instance, in Allan Eckert’s great 1992 biography A Sorrow in Our Hearts) and shapes and alters it just slightly away from mappable facts and into the realm of mythology, to very readable effect. Fiore’s many action scenes are gripping, but the real strength of the book is its complex and captivating portrayal of Tecumseh himself, at once serious and lighthearted, full of unruly emotions and yet constantly aware of what he sees as his destiny. This is a fine and memorable performance.