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Cherokee Talisman - David Michael Harding “They were blood-thirsty savages - superstitious, dirty animals. They were thieves and killers who burned houses to the ground and kidnapped women and children. They were protectors of a Nation – guerrilla fighters serving their country. They were husbands and fathers who built homes in lush valleys for their families.

They were – the same men.

In 1775 perspective came with the color of your skin.”

Due to the depth of the content and the length of the book I had originally anticipated spending at least three days reading Cherokee Talisman but the story is so brutal and compelling that I read through it in a day and a half. It is an intoxicating read – the visualization of the land, the depth of the characters, the brutality of the battles all are simply mesmerizing. A gritty and historical read, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Harding’s novel.

Historical fiction based around the Native American culture often ensnares a writer into very predictable and trite writing. Most novels will depict the white man = good and Native American = bad or vice versa. Frequently an author of this genre will become complacent with placing the ethnic cultures into one of these two categories and therefore the writing becomes lackluster and the story arc fails. Harding was able to rise above this predictability and present genuine understanding of the strengths and flaws of both cultures. In this manner he writes a novel that is coldly accurate, recreating the history that existed when one nation was born and another almost died.

Cherokee Talisman is Book #1 of a new series by Harding and covers the changing landscape of America from 1775 – 1821. The Cherokee Nation is being forced to relocate, yet again, as white settlers continue to emigrate from Europe. The novel opens after the Cherokee Nation has already given up part of their territory in a treaty with the settlers and they are meeting to discuss a new treaty and a new land exchange. Readers are immediately presented with insight into the cruel and conniving intentions of the white settlers – seduce the simply Native minds with rum, horses and gold. When the old tricks no longer work and the Cherokee stand to retain what is theirs the conflict comes to a head as the Cherokee Nation prepares for war.

It is a harsh and cruel reality of American history. Readers will set helpless as they read about the destruction of a beautiful culture full of tradition and natural beauty. Each side had their own downfall – the pride of the Natives and the greed of the settlers. Cherokee Talisman offers readers a glimpse into the harsh truth behind the settlement of early America and those that had to be destroyed in order for a new nation to be born. It is a vicious story but rich with historical details and incorporating beloved American heroes it is a novel I highly recommend.

Review by Ashley LaMar
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