Calling Crow Nation
Paul Clayton
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Get *Calling Crow Nation* delivered to your door! Calling Crow Nation

Paul Clayton
Berkley Books
309 pages
January 1997
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

Two important things should be known about frontier fiction. First, it's a wide-open genre for new writers. Second, it's not limited to Westerns. Paul Clayton's name may start becoming more and more familiar to booksellers and readers, on par with Terry C. Johnston's. Calling Crow Nation concludes the three-book chronicle of the life of Calling Crow, a chief of the Coosa people in the Floridas in the late 1500s. His story is a unique one in the genre, for there are few novels available concerning the plight of Native Americans in the Southeast at the time of the early Spanish claims on that area.

Calling Crow has overcome great obstacles to reach his position of leadership among the Coosa, including a period spent as a Spanish slave. Now the respected leader of a small village, he must confront Spanish slavers once again to save his people from a fate whose horrors he has experienced first hand. The Spanish have allied with a group of Timucua natives whose leader Mantua will become Calling Crow's most deadly enemy. Armed with muskets provided by the Spanish, the Timucua attack enemy tribes, capturing new slaves for the Spanish and gaining ascendancy among the other peoples of the area. Mantua and Calling Crow meet again and again as Calling Crow tries to keep his people from becoming stepping stones on Mantua's path to glory and power. Calling Crow sees only one chance at evading Mantua's grasp: the Coosa must somehow obtain muskets to level the field of battle.

Calling Crow frees Englishman Samuel Newman from Timucua captors. A merchant looking to establish trade with the colonies in the New Lands, Samuel is on the run from duplicitous Spanish occupiers. Grateful to Calling Crow and enamored of the chief's daughter, Samuel reluctantly agrees to trade Coosa deerskins for the muskets the tribe needs to successfully defend against the Spanish-supplied Timucua. Samuel leaves two ship's boys with the village as collateral, and Calling Crow and his right-hand man depart for England aboard Samuel's ship.

From that point, the story takes many twists and turns. The Spaniards from the New Lands catch up with Samuel's ship and take the Coosa's partial payment of skins. Shortly after landing in England, Calling Crow and Red Feather are sold to a traveling fair by Samuel's moody brother John, then separated when a badly beaten and weakened Calling Crow is resold as a slave to a bordello. Calling Crow will eventually make his way back home, but his budding friendship with Samuel will be severely tested. He will have a difficult time protecting his people from the Spanish and the Timucua, but with the respect of those he leads and with the aid of his brave young son Swordbrought, Calling Crow will have a fighting chance of saving everything he holds dear.

Calling Crow Nation is a sprawling novel crammed with significant story events and chock full of interesting little historical tidbits. A vital part of the story is something altogether little known -- the fact of enslavement of indigenous Americans by the Europeans who would claim the land for their own. In addition to attracting frontier fiction lovers looking for another author, Clayton's work should appeal to readers of the William Sarabande and Kathleen and Michael Gear prehistory series interested in examining the more recent fates of Native Americans.

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