The Trampled Fields

Written by Jeanne Williams
Review by Sarah Johnson

These novels, the first to appear from Spur-award winning author Jeanne Williams in six years, form the Beneath the Burning Ground trilogy: an epic saga of several families’ struggles to survive the Civil War years along the Kansas/Missouri border.

In The Trampled Fields, the darkest book, the remaining Wares and friends take shelter in an underground cave, and the hidden valley to which it leads, for their own protection. They are surprised to find the cave already inhabited by an Osage wisewoman and several others. Christy, who leaves on occasion to farm her family’s land, encounters pure evil in the form of a Confederate guerilla who enjoys tormenting her, while Dan and Charlie face their own demons in battle.

The beginning sections of the first book proved difficult, since they introduced too many new characters at once, and some conversations seemed designed to feed the reader historical detail. Despite these slow bits, this is an engrossing trilogy about the physical and emotional damage wrought by war, and how war forces people to make decisions they don’t fully agree with. The author describes the Civil War experience from all possible angles: Union and Confederate; black, white, and Indian; rich and poor; in battle and on the home front. Williams’ Arizona Saga remains my favorite among her work, but these novels should prove worthwhile reads for family saga and Civil War fans.