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Bryan Ney
Absaroka War Chief
Bryan Ney, author
Set in the 1820's American West and based on the life of James Beckwourth, an African American born of a white father and slave mother. He joins a fur trading expedition and struggles for the respect of his fellow trappers, then is captured by the Crow tribe. Among the Crow he rises to become a vaunted leader. But he becomes disillusioned with the violence of their life, and ultimately has to decide, where does he really belong?
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 5 out of 10
Overall: 7.00 out of 10


Plot: The author’s admitted “Hollywoodization” of Beckwourth’s life makes a detailed history accessible to a more casual readership.

Prose/Style: Ney’s prose is careful and engaging. While some odd turns of phrase may give some readers moments of pause, Ney keeps the pace fresh with plenty of action.

Originality: Ney’s intimate portrait of Beckwourth is as tender as it is multi-faceted. The author vividly captures the struggles of life in the 1820s American West.

Character Development/Execution: While Beckwourth is an engaging protagonist, Ney’s Indigenous characters can sometimes come across as stiff, their dialogue bordering on caricature. This becomes a question of cultural sensitivity.

Blurb: This daring historical novel chronicles the life and times of James Beckwourth. Set in the American West in the 1820s, Ney’s atmospheric writing captures something of the life of one of America’s Black heroes. 

Date Submitted: May 09, 2021