4 out of 4 stars
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These Sacred Lands by James Harold Kelly is a novel set in the American West. Although it is the second volume in the I am a Soldier, First and Always series, this novel easily stands alone. Perfect for fans of historical fiction, this book takes a reader back in time. Complete with maps and illustrations, this book shows readers how history came about and outlines the battles and events of the Great Sioux War fought in the late 1800s.
Joshua Tremaine Mackenzie arrived in Fort Laramie by stagecoach with his parents, his brother, and his sister. He could barely contain his excitement at beginning the adventure of this new western life. When Joshua befriends a young Lakota boy his age, he decides to learn the Lakota language. Will friendship between the two young men be possible in the tumultuous times of Indian wars and battles for territory in a burgeoning new nation? To find out, you must read this book!
The historical accuracy in this novel is exceptional. The maps of the Northern Plains featured throughout the book help readers picture names and places. It was fascinating to see the maps of areas where battles had been held that included well-known historical characters. Keeping history alive is one of the best aspects of why readers love historical novels. This book tells history fans precisely what one would expect in a historical novel set in this time. The story is woven together with historical facts.
It is evident that this author comes from a military background and enjoys military history. This author can capture the angst, feelings of anger, and helplessness of the Lakota people as well as the white settlers. He also captures the spirit of unity felt by the tribes in this story. These feelings transfer to the reader and help them connect with the characters and situations.
The character development in the story is excellent, and I enjoyed how the characters of Shadow Hawk and Joshua developed as they grew to adulthood. Shadow Hawk became a respected Lakota Warrior, and Joshua became a cavalry officer. In such a time of change for the country, it was interesting to see each character's strengths. I was often reminded of family members who had lived through that period of history, and I knew the reality of the emotions they expressed in the story.
I love how the Lakota Sioux still hold the Black Hills sacred and how, for that reason, this book is dedicated to them. What I loved best about this book was how the author gives the reader a sense of time and place, not only in history but in the spiritual sense of the people involved in this work.
I live in a state where native culture is considered a valued asset. Efforts to save almost-lost languages are underway, and reviving the old ways is a constant process when instructing the youth about local history. Novels like this keep the past events of our nation a part of remembered history. I appreciated how Joshua undertook to learn the Lakota language to help further his friendship with Shadow Hawk and establish his ability to communicate with all sides. That aspect of this novel sets an excellent example for people of the time in which we live today.
I found nothing negative to list for this novel. It is exceptionally well edited, and the plot is driven by the truth evident in recorded history. For these reasons, it has achieved a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. This book contains the elements of adventure, action, and romance. It also contains the violence and gruesome scenes one would expect of a novel that includes historical battles fought during this period. It is best suited to a mature audience. It will appeal most to fans of historical fiction. I recommend it to readers who have a particular affinity with stories of a western theme.
These Sacred Lands
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