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The Apparition Trail Paperback – May 20 2004
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"The Apparition Trail, is a heady combination of both historical fantasy and science fiction ... a truly ripping tale of adventure ... a fun, fast paced yarn with several unexpected twists."
- Arinn Dembo, Vancouver Courier -
About the Author
Lisa Smedman is an author and a game designer. She has done extensive work on various role playing games for Wizards of the Coast, TSR and the extremely popular game - Deadlands! She is the author of five best selling Shadowrun novels - including The Lucifer Deck, Blood Sport, Psychotrope, The Forever Drug and Tails You Lose. In addition, Lisa has authored two novels and contributed numerous short stories for anthologies set in the Forgotten Realms world. Extinction is currently on the New York Times best seller list. Lisa lives in Vancouver, Canada.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Corporal Marmaduke Grayburn of the Northwest Mounted Police is one of those building the western frontier. For most of his life, he has been plagued by prophetic dreams and "hunches," one of which saved his life. He is assigned to the secretive Q Division, a unit of paranormal investigators.
With help from an eccentric psychic researcher named Arthur Chambers, Grayburn investigates the sudden disappearance of a Methodist missionary and his family. Also gone is an Indian artifact of great power called the Manitou Stone.
These are hard times for the local Indian tribes. The buffalo, on which they depend, are almost gone. A Cree sorcerer, Wandering Spirit, plans to use the power of the Stone to bring about the long-prophecied Day of Changes, when the natives of western Canada will reclaim their stolen lands. Also included in this story are underground tunnels where time and distance work very differently than aboveground, and the spirit of a white buffalo forced into the body of a newborn child too early.
This novel is really good. Much of it is based on actual history. It's just weird enough to be interesting, the characters are real people, and it's very well done. It is well worth reading.
We've got a lot of real historical characters, in a setting which Canadian readers will find familiar. The North-West Territories of the 1880's included all the lands from the border of British Columbia to southern Ontario and Quebec. The book is set mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and all the traditional players are on the scene, from the Mounties to the famous Native chiefs. In this alternate universe, magic exists. The old mystical powers, long dormant and believed dead, have suddenly returned full force in the year 1877.
The cause of this event is somewhat hazy; we know only that a passing comet struck the moon a glancing blow and turned the "dark side" toward the earth, changing the face of the night sky forever. The implications of the change are many, however, and Smedman explores them deeply in her novel. From the very first pages, the mundane world of our own history books is gone. The technology of this world is powered not by steam and coal, but by perpetual motion devices. These wonderful engines make all sorts of fascinating new machines possible, from a flying bicycle to a mechanical homing pigeon, or an eerily silent train.
"The Apparition Trail" is the story of Marmaduke Grayburn, a Corporal in the North-West Mounted Police. The year is 1884, and tension increases daily between the displaced Native bands and the white settlers of the Territories. The buffalo have become scarce, and smallpox outbreaks are common. Three brutally hard winters have seen the Natives eating their own horses and dogs--sometimes even turning on each other. On the brink of extinction, their suffering has made them bold. More and more often they make sorties against the settlers and the builders of the railroad, defying the white man's law and the men who are duty-bound to enforce it.
Students of Canada's history will recall the real-life events that once led up to a Metis uprising and the rebellion of the Cree. But the re-emergence of magic into this version of Canada's past has spiced up the scenario quite a bit. The same mystical forces that allow white men to create a perpetual motion device have also given force to the ancient spells and ceremonies of a medicine man. A Native shaman has the power to kill with his coup stick, to walk unseen, or transform himself into a spirit animal. Given enough cooperation, the Cree and the Blackfoot might even have enough mojo at their disposal to bring about the legendary Day of Changes, which was to the Native believer what the long-awaited Rapture is to a modern-day Christian. With the use of tribal sorcery, they might make the fever dreams of a vanquished people come true--the white settlers could be magically banished from the North-West Territories forever, while the buffalo returned to darken the plain once more.
This is a conflict of epic scale, with many lives at stake, and all the ingredients for a truly ripping tale of adventure. The author walks the tight-rope between the two sides of this war with grace and sympathy, giving both the Mounties and their rebellious Native foes the humanity they deserve, and larding both sides with heroes and villains. In the meantime, she also serves up a fun, fast-paced yarn with several unexpected twists. "The Apparition Trail" is solid entertainment.