Comanche Captive: D. Laszlo Conhaim
The Comanche Indians are a Native American nation from the Great Plains. Their territory was called Comancheria and consisted of what is now New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, most of northwest Texas and northern Chihuahua. They are federally recognized today at the Comanche Nations located in Lawton, Oklahoma. Considered at the time hunter-gatherers with a horse culture. They were the main tribe on the Southern Plains and as is the focus of this novel titled Comanche Captive they often took captives from weaker tribes especially during wartime and selling them as slaves to the Spanish and then later on to Mexican settlers. Imagine what they made when they took thousands of captives from the many different groups of settlers. They were strong opponents who were smart and developed their own form of strategies using traditional weapons to fight on horseback. Warfare at the time was their main or prominent way of life. Their main raids into Mexico were in Chihuahua and they manage to emerge as the main prominent group before 1700 when they broke away from the Shoshone people. You will meet many of the tribal leaders, learn about their customs and several who were enlisted by the army as scouts and to help them in finding the key character kidnapped and having escaped from a mental facility, Laura Little. Laura Little, was held captive and lost her own son. As she was separated from him and placed in a mental facility whose rules many today would find not acceptable and unusual. Hoping to find a way out of the institute the author creates a situation from the start where she cleverly manages her own escape.
Scott Renald is a primary figure within this story as his job as a scout is to find white captives that had been taken and in this case he comes upon Laura. Rescued she originally thought she might find a way to convince the staff that she was ready to go back into the world and live among society but her manner of dress, her appearance and attitude made them deny her release. Laura just wants her son, the son of Talking Moon hoping to reunite with him. So, why not try your hand at getting out which she did as the author cleverly has her tie up the doctor, jump through and window, convince the stable boy that she was the doctor’s wife and rides bare-backed without a saddle. Meeting Scott Renaldo she manages to convince him to come to her aid.
Laura did not back away from danger and when confronted by Texas Tonka she did not hold back as Renaldo kept her safe in a cave warding off danger but the Indians of many tribes only knew one thing and that was to fight. It’s like today fighting for power, the strongest and yet having to deal with the army and their rules. Cole Harker is a buffalo hunter who seemed to be playing both sides of the track Indian and Army as he comes up against Renaldo but was hired by Colonel Davidson to find Laura and Renaldo and bring her back. But, Texas was impetuous and wanted immediate gratification and power to prove that Tonakawa get revenge but his tribe was not the only one. Talking Moon is her husband and to him she’s worth a bunch but what happens when the meet will allow readers to know that loyalties shift fast, judgments are passed often without consequences or thinking them through and the end result will leave you wondering what the final outcome for so many will be. Talking Moon moved into the Double Bluff, trackers on all sides seem to know where the fight would begin but would it ever end? “It’s those people who lead the U.S. Cavalry and its agents to rescue grateful women than you.” He’s stated, Renaldo that he’s on the wrong side of Comanche. Wondering as the reader does why didn’t anyone broker a truce or talk about bringing peace. But, Laura was quick on her feet but dealing with taking the casings off of shells, hoping to use what firepower they had the reader learns that Talking Moon is half blood or half white as Renaldo shows a photo of someone named Margaret who happened to be his sister and with that the sides change and the battle lines are drawn but in whose direction? Renaldo also realized that survival meant knowing the exact number of men below and their replacement knowing that the Tonkawa would fight to the finish. But, Renald yelled back and Laura Little responded. What she does next could get her hanged but will it?
Margaret Chase was Renaldo’s sister and the picture on her wedding day proved to Talking Moon that he’s his uncle and that his son was his nephew. Taiboo Tekwa: Talks White who takes an immediate liking to his uncle who his father resents that he is bonding with. Playing a game with him the reader learns that this child is smart, astute and that Talking Moon just might learn some valuable lessons before all is said and done. A son that looked like his mother with blue eyes and women who were placed with other husbands along with their children when their husband’s were killed, the Indians only knew one way and that was violence, fighting for territories but one chief Red Bear along with Renaldo would hopefully bring the fighting to a close but what would they lose if they decided to surrender? Carne Muerto aka Dead Meat was the rival of many and they needed to find him before Talking Moon did. Red Bear’s tepee was where the crowd was congregating and Stardust one of my favorite characters, Renaldo’s horse was smart, loyal and could teach the Indians and White Men many lessons. But, when twenty guns are in sight whey didn’t anyone move? Red Bear, wearing his peace bonnet hoped to change the tide and Laura Little was in the limelight and in the line of Talking Moons anger and ire. What he does to her brings the wrath of many and he loses face and what she does proves that she is not anyone to trifle with ever again. Her son warms to her but the ending is left for you the reader to decide what happens next. Chapter 14 outlines their version of surrender with the Indians, the many chiefs and the army personnel present to negotiate but the Indians will pay a heavy price for losing their land and more in order to not be massacred by the army and sent to a safe place to live. Inspired and as a tribute to Randolph Scott and the “dazzling horse he rode in many adventures.” “Scott is one of the most convincing screen presences ever to ride tall in the saddle.” His horse off screen was Stardust. The ending leaves you wondering what is the fate of Laura, Talking Moon, Red Bear, Laura’s son and Renaldo as Colonel Davidson is about to forge ahead to meet the Renalds.
The scenery and the Indian’s voices are heard loud and clear and trails, the camps and the journey is so vividly depicted you the reader will feel as if you are on the many trails with the characters in this book. Renaldo is strong and steadfast and Laura proves that even a woman back then has a strong voice and will not back down and be heard. As with today with mixed races the fact that Talking Moon is a half breed and many others too brings that to light but it also brings to light that the many tribes fought, few worked together reminding us that it is not so different about what we hear on the news today. But, maybe everyone needs a Chief Red Bear!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine