on June 6, 2003
This is another exciting romp through a world that's not so different from the one we know, but enough so that we can't help but eagerly demand, "What next?"
This novel continues the saga of George Custer Jr., estranged son of the President of the United States, in a slightly different late nineteenth century America. See reviews of earlier books in this series for more details. In this new story, we gain much more insight into what makes father and son tick, but not at the expense of sweeping adventure. This is still very much a thrill ride that will keep you turning pages long after a sensible person would have turned out the lights.
I eagerly anticipate Giambastiani's next tale of adventure set in the wonderful world he has created.
on May 2, 2003
It is flattering when your ideas are incorporated in future literary work, even if the author has never actually read them. It generally shows that your evaluations and thoughts are on the right track. Personal feelings aside, there are many reasons why this Book 3 of the series should be considered the best of the three written so far.
One: More detailed character development. My main complaint about "The Spirit of Thunder" was that the plot was moving too quickly, which took away from painting a deeper psychological picture of the main characters. In "Shadow of the Storm," the progress of time slows down considerably, and details such slowdown allows to incorporate make the book a vivid read.
Two: Improved writing depth. While previous installments were perfectly readable, "Shadow" goes one step further. It reads like a Hollywood epic, with characters and events flashed out to such a degree the readers can actually see them in their mind's eye. For example, the scene of Indian cavalry maneuvers in a San Francisco corrida arena is nothing less than "The Gladiator" transferred in all its glory from the movie screen to paper.
Three: Stronger emphasis on human drama. While the first two books touched on George Custer Jr.'s emotional struggle with conflicting allegiances, "Shadow" brings it to a climax, but not on the inaccessible level of national politics, but rather on a very close, and thus painfully real, personal level. The tone for the most important question of the book - what constitutes family and what role blood connection plays in it - is set from Chapter 1 and is brought to a heartrending climax with the novel's final scene.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. While I will await the next installment with impatience, a certain degree of trepidation will also be there. Mr. Giambastiani has set the bar of my expectations pretty high with "Shadow." Will he be able to reach it with Book 4? Only time will tell...
on March 29, 2003
I really enjoy the books in this series, particularly because I love the opportunity to spend time with the Cheyenne characters that the author has developed so well - both individual personalities as well as insights into the culture. However, this third book in the series moves the saga forward in very dramatic ways with lots of new thought-provoking ideas and adventures. And the dinosaurs are back. I thought they were a bit of an afterthought in the second book, but Mr. Giambastiani brings them back as key characters in the story. The author also demonstrates a growing talent in his writing as he narration shifts effortlessly between the different characters perspectives on the action. I eagerly await book 4.
on March 4, 2003
Shadow of the Storm is the third novel in the Fallen Cloud series, following The Spirit of Thunder. In the previous volume, George has lost a great deal of gold to a French trader, but finds another way to obtain weapons. He is severely wounded during the attack on Fort Assurance and Storm Arriving is also wounded while setting demolition charges on the railroad bridge over the Missouri. News of the bridge's destruction reaches Washington before the election, but is suppressed.
In this novel, George Armstrong Custer, Senior, wins re-election to his second term as President of the United States. Not everybody is pleased, to say the least, and trouble is brewing between the labor unionists and the industrialists. The common people, however, are mostly pleased at the prospect of free land made available with the Homestead Act, property in the lands of the Cheyenne Alliance.
In Little Italy, Cesare Uccido tries to protect his twin sister, Fortuna, from the hustlers and pimps, but is unsuccesful. In despair for the hard life of her family, Fortuna agrees to couple with a rich man for a golden coin, yet Cesare finds her with the man and tries to take her away, but the man attacks him and Cesare fights back, finally taking out all his rage on the man, killing him thoroughly. Afterward they flee, to find themselves with the man's clothes containing a large amount of cash and coin. With this money, the Uccido family flees to the frontier to stake out a homestead.
Back in New York, the new Ambassador from New Spain takes on his duties after the degraded death of his predecessor in a house of ill-repute. On his introductory visit to the White House, he overhears the President disparaging the Spanish government and leaves angrily. Since the Ambassador has a prior hatred for Custer, he looks for a way to pay back the President for his misdeeds.
Among the Cheyenne, George Armstong Custer, Junior, called One Who Flies by his Cheyenne family, is still trying to stop the slaughter of his adopted people. He is still weak from his wounds, but agrees to leave early with Mouse Roads and Picking Bones Woman to join Storm Arriving and Speaks While Leaving for the birth of their baby. One Who Flies is happy to travel early since he wants to ask Storm Arriving for permission to court Mouse Roads. Before he can be answered, the death of Picking Bones Woman causes the family to leave for the deathgrounds on the shore of the Big Salty, the Nebraska Sea.
All these elements converge on Washington for a major confrontation between the US and the Cheyenne.
This novel is well written and enjoyable, not only for the plot, but for the details on the lives of the Cheyenne people. The twists and turns of the plot are frustrating to the reader as well as the main character, but are necessary to sustain the story. After all, a peaceful life is boring to most readers, yet most of the really good sections were just everyday life among the Cheyenne.
Recommended for Giambastiani fans and anyone who enjoys tales of exotic people and international intrigue in a fantasy setting.