Lars. D.H. Hedbor
Brief Candle Press
The Smoke is a book that achieves the almost impossible. It talks about the early interaction between the colonial settlers and the people of the Six Nations Confederacy without reverting to stereotypes. Both the aboriginal and the whites are portrayed as human. They have their strengths and their weaknesses, but they are not innately evil or good. I found this to be a very refreshing take on a time in history that was filled with a great deal of grief on all sides.
The book begins with a pair of hunters who overhear a conversation by colonial soldiers. They take the conversation back to their village where it is decided that they will leave their village to avoid conflict with the whites. As they are doing this, the three scouts are attacked and one killed while another is wounded.
The groups meet and it is soon clear that conflict is inevitable. Rather than showing the broad scale of the period, Lars choses to focus on a few people on each side. It is a good decision as he is able to maintain the character’s humanity and show that they are all doing their best.
Aside from the characters being exceptionally well drawn, we are also treated to the occasional lyrical passage describing the land that both groups wish to call home. These passages are a welcome gift and make it believable that people would wish to live in the land. The plot is not overly complex and makes no overt attempt to state one side or another.
I would recommend the book to any who have a curiousity about this period in our history as well as fans of good stories well told.