Kurt R.A. Giambastiani,
Shadow of the Storm
(Roc, 2003)

Shadow of the Storm really messed with my head. I had to read this one a couple of times. It is a magnificently entertaining read that will keep you wanting to know what happens until the very end, but you must be able to blank out everything you know about history from the mid-1800s forward to really get maximum impact from the story.

The story is set in 1889. George Armstrong Custer is president. All the Native Americans have banded together into the Cheyenne Alliance. The United States holds the eastern portion of the country while the Cheyenne Alliance has the west. The cities are becoming overcrowded due to immigration and there is great need for more land. Unfortunately, the Natives feel they have already given up enough space and refuse to budge. The only way the president can acquire more land is to go to war with the Natives -- and win. This will not be easy and guarantees that both sides will suffer tremendous casualties. President Custer does not know that as he prepares to go to war with the Cheyenne Alliance, his son, George Jr., is living among them.

There are several layers to this story. How will President Custer react to learning that his son is living among the Indians? Will he find out before or after the war? How will the Indians feel about George Jr. once his father declares war? How will George Jr. react to the declaration? Where are his loyalties? How will it affect his personal relationships?

Shadow of the Storm puts human emotions under the microscope while providing action and suspense at a high level. The author is adept at building suspense, then slowly returning the reader to a point of stasis before building suspense again. The story flows smoothly and does not jump around. The character development is intense, taking you deep inside the minds and hearts of the primary people as they come to grips with the crisis facing the entire country. There are no unaffected people in the entire country.

This book will appeal to readers that love action, drama, suspense, military, history or just deep emotional writing. The author has produced a story that has almost universal appeal -- it has elements for practically any reader. I loved it, even if I did have trouble accepting Custer as president.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 19 July 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.