Summary and book reviews of Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

Thirteen Moons

by Charles Frazier

Thirteen Moons
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 422 pages

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Book Summary

At the age of twelve, Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent to run a remote Indian trading post. There he is adopted by a Cherokee chief, and falls in love with a girl he won in a card game.

Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons is the story of one man’s remarkable life, spanning a century of relentless change. At the age of twelve, an orphan named Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent on a journey through the wilderness to the edge of the Cherokee Nation, the uncharted white space on the map. Will is a bound boy, obliged to run a remote Indian trading post. As he fulfills his lonesome duty, Will finds a father in Bear, a Cherokee chief, and is adopted by him and his people, developing relationships that ultimately forge Will’s character. All the while, his love of Claire, the enigmatic and captivating charge of volatile and powerful Featherstone, will forever rule Will’s heart.

In a distinct voice filled with both humor and yearning, Will tells of a lifelong search for home, the hunger for fortune and adventure, the rebuilding of a trampled culture, and above all an enduring pursuit of passion. As he comes to realize, “When all else is lost and gone forever, there is yearning. One of the few welcome lessons age teaches is that only desire trumps time."

Will Cooper, in the hands of Charles Frazier, becomes a classic American soul: a man devoted to a place and its people, a woman, and a way of life, all of which are forever just beyond his reach. Thirteen Moons takes us from the uncharted wilderness of an unspoiled continent, across the South, up and down the Mississippi, and to the urban clamor of a raw Washington City. Throughout, Will is swept along as the wild beauty of the nineteenth century gives way to the telephones, automobiles, and encroaching railways of the twentieth. Steeped in history, rich in insight, and filled with moments of sudden beauty, Thirteen Moons is an unforgettable work of fiction by an American master.

PART ONE

...

bone moon

1

There is no scatheless rapture. love and time put me in this condition. I am leaving soon for the Nightland, where all the ghosts of men and animals yearn to travel. We’re called to it. I feel it pulling at me, same as everyone else. It is the last unmapped country, and a dark way getting there. A sorrowful path. And maybe not exactly Paradise at the end. The belief I’ve acquired over a generous and nevertheless inadequate time on earth is that we arrive in the afterlife as broken as when we departed from the world. But, on the other hand, I’ve always enjoyed a journey.

Cloudy days, I sit by the fire and talk nothing but Cherokee. Or else I sit silent with pen and paper, rendering the language into Sequoyah’s syllabary, the characters forming under my hand like hen- scratch hieroglyphs. On sunny days, I usually rock on the porch wrapped in a blanket and read and admire the vista. Many decades ago, when I built my ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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After a strong start, my interest waned during the second half of the book, when things started to bog down - I turned the pages faster and faster, not because it was such a gripping read, but simply in the hope of finding something that would grip!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Washington Post

Longer and even duller than Cold Mountain....reading Frazier is like sitting by the cracker barrel for hour after hour and listening to an amiable but impossibly gassy guy who talks real slow, says "I reckon" a whole lot and never shuts up. His novels have little structure and not much in the way of plot.

Newsweek

Gorgeous…calls Cold Mountain to mind in its wonder at the natural world; its pacificist undercurrents; its dismay at the dismantling of what matters, and its convication that one love, no matter how tortured and inexplicable, can be life-defining…fascinating…vivid and alive.

Los Angeles Times

Thirteen Moons is rare in many ways and occupies a literary plane of such height that reviewing it is not really salient….Thirteen Moons has the power to inspire great performances from succeeding generations of writers….For those who simply value the literary experience, Thirteen Moons will provide the immense satisfaction of taking a literary journey of magnitude. Whether on a plane, in an office or curled in a window seat, readers who absorb Will's story will find their own lives enriched….Thirteen Moons belongs to the ages.

Boston Globe

A boisterous, confident novel that draws from the epic tradition... Frazier is a natural storyteller, and throughout his picaresque tale are grand themes and eulogies.

Library Journal

This work gets more unbelievable as it goes on....the Natives are stock characters, Will himself lacks depth and complexity...a tiresome novel.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

For the first fourth of the book, there is too much detail for the plot to easily bear. But, finally, the characters are able to step out from behind this blanket of particulars and incidentals and make the story work.

Kirkus Reviews

Thirteen Moons brings this vanished world thrillingly to life...one of the great Native American -- and American -- stories, and a great gift to all of us, from one of our very best writers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The history that Frazier hauntingly unwinds through Will is as melodic as it is melancholy, but the sublime love story is the narrative's true heart.

Reader Reviews

Karen

Thirteen Moons is wonderful!
I stumbled upon this book because it had a lot of Native American and Cherokee information in it. (I avidly read any historical fiction that I can get my hands on.) I had not read Cold Mountain, so I had no preformed opinion. I am on my fourth...   Read More

gill sones

superbly written
I thought Cold Mountain was good but this book is just excellent! I have just finished reading it for the second time and because of the superb way it is written, I found images in it I had missed on the first reading. I rushed it the first time as ...   Read More

rezgrrl

A Different Perspective
A self professed book snob, I have been reading and loving classic literature from a very early age. Many years ago I picked up Cold Mountain because I knew that Frazer is from the same mountain region as I. It left me stunned and amazed, and in love...   Read More

jim richman

a differant time I miss
The 1800s were the time for Americans to have the greatest adventures-- and when one can go back to those time by way of a great story teller---- it is magic---I hated to get to the end of the story as I knew I would for ever miss those people and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Charles Frazier was born in 1950 in Asheville, North Carolina and grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1973, received an M.A. from Appalachian State University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina in 1986.

His first novel, Cold Mountain, was an international bestseller, and won the National Book Award in 1997. It traces the journey of Inman, a wounded deserter from the Confederate army. The story is based in part on Frazier's great-great-uncle , W. P. Inman. A movie adaptation was released in 2003.

His second novel, Thirteen Moons, was published in 2006, with an $8 million advance from his USA publisher. He currently raises ...

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