Trumpeting the Mohawk trilogy

Acknowledgments

For support throughout – with art, beta readings, editing, design, proofing, production, publication, indexing, and book-club readings  – my appreciation goes to Christi Belcourt, Janine Brodie, Faye Boer, Lesley Clarke, DELC, Murray Dorin (1954-2020), Gerry DottoJaclyn Draker, Judy Dunlop, Stephen Gibb, Dianne Gillespie, Jennifer Gobeil, Bruce E. Hill, Kiff Holland, Anita Jenkins, Shane Kennedy, Kathy Knowles, Lone Pine Press (Dragon Hill Publishing, Eschia Books), Jerome Martin, Merle Martin (1940-2018), Kathy Meaney, Peter Midgley, Nancy Mackenzie, Mary Lou Roy, Laraine Orthlieb, Claudia Petersmeyer, Spotted Cow Press, Three Rascals Press, Kathy van Denderen, Sally Williams.

You can’t do much good without an experienced editor. AJ taught me that some years back, and I’ve remained forever grateful, both to her and the advice. So extra thanks go to my skillful editors/proofers – Anita, Kathy van, Nancy and Mary Lou.

Coming in July, 2022, Culture Clubs: The Real Fate of Societies.

The Mohawk Trilogy

Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos Charter

Lillian Brown from Foreword Reviews: The satisfying third and final book in S. Minsos’ historical trilogy, Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos Charter follows the nineteenth-century disruption to Indigenous lands caused by European and American settlers.

As a young Mohawk in what is now known as Ontario, Squire Tehawennihárhos Davis—along with his cohorts, Scotchwoman Jennet Ferguson and Jeddah Golden, a man of mixed lineage from Appalachia—is tasked with coming into his own, both emotionally and financially, as the bankruptcy of the Grand River Navigation Company threatens his reality.

The format comes with enough of an introduction and overview of the rest of the series so that it can stand on its own. Despite being set over a century ago, the book tackles the intricacies of gender inequality and relationship issues in a relatable manner, tying the struggles of its characters to contemporary issues. Subplots of drama and romance add a coming-of-age element to the historical tale.

Rich, vivid descriptions employ all the senses; they are one of the strongest aspects of the novel. A root is described as “as thick as a slinking python”; “a makeshift but colourfully patched tent … with a yellow sock-flag waving on the pole at the tent’s peak” appears at a fair. These details enrich the story and help build a world that’s undeniably intoxicating.

Another highlight comes in the minor characters, who are brought to life in a multidimensional way that makes the Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos Charter universe immersive and realistic. All characters leave a lasting impression, even those as tertiary as Miles Finlen, the tall, gruff barkeep who works tirelessly to maintain respect for his bar while throwing out bums and serving patrons. Like many characters that could be written off as ancillary, in his few scenes Miles is instead presented as an integral spoke in the wheels of the trilogy.

The complexities of the era are thoroughly researched and accurately imparted, as evidenced by the detail in both the book and its lengthy introduction. These historical trials are never intrusive in the text; they are always incorporated in a relatable way.

The novel’s lovable, intricate characters and the challenges that they face every day, from protecting their lands to safeguarding their hearts, are an irresistible draw. Minsos concludes a three-part saga with Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos Charter, a satisfying narrative that weaves all characters and story lines together.

Reviewed by Lillian Brown

 

Jane AinslieCharter ought to find a forever home with Canadians. If you want to learn how the past impacts the present, this is the book to read. (Book 3. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: Charter).

Elly Buck: Although the second book builds beautifully on the first, the books also stand alone. The style of Vinegar Hill is rich in detail, yet humorous and witty. I love the characters, who seem real to me. I find the speakers jump off of the page. Intricate details of their everyday lives make them come even more alive. I am there. Right in their world. Looking forward to the further adventures of Squire Davis. (Book 2. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: The Battle of Vinegar Hill).

Ken Davis: Minsos is a sophisticated, mature writer with a great sense of fun and the ability to keep the plot twisting and turning in a manner that keeps the tale fresh right to the last page. (Book 1. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos).

Mel Hurtig: A great yarn. Entertaining. Fun. Absorbing. With multiple cultural viewpoints. (Book 1. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos). 

Muriel KuchisonMinsos’ use of terse, clean prose, subtle humour, a plethora of individual character traits and vivid, colourful descriptions of places and events contributes to the utter pleasure of reading this novel. Herein, there are many lessons to be learned by history buffs as well as insights to be savoured and pondered by all. (Book 3. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: Charter). 

Ian MacLaren: The whore on the hill doesn’t tire somehow, and I adored the tipped-over outhouse. Minsos handles violence very well, and it is not gratuitous; that is, retributive justice must have featured as prominently in British North America as it famously did in the US of A, all disclaimers about upright Upper Canada notwithstanding. Speaking of the latter, the free trade plot in human lives is rivetting, and the prospect of Filkin’s fate delicious. I also like the qualities of Squire that the tree rescue places on view. (Book 2. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: The Battle of Vinegar Hill). 

Mark Smith: There’s historical fiction that removes the past to some safe and distant place, and there’s historical fiction that shows us how the past isn’t past at all and I’d say what [Minsos does] is the latter sort. (Book 2. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: The Battle of Vinegar Hill).

Martha Sterne: Protagonist, Tehawennihárhos, aka Squire Davis, aka Sky Walker, navigates through the reality that First Nations are being squeezed out. (“They starve us. Or chase us away… It is chaos in our territory. Dangerous as hell.”) Meantime Sky Walker has fallen in love with a Scotswoman and considers marriage, and all that that entails for a “biracial” couple. I really enjoy Minsos’ sophisticated writing. She painstakingly distinguishes slang, accents, and dialects across all of her characters, and applies humour to the cause. (Book 2. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: The Battle of Vinegar Hill).

Women Review: Book 3. Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos: Charter is a complex, humourous, action-filled novel about the 1840s in Canada West [formerly Upper Canada, now Ontario]. The origin of English-Canadian prejudices, east and west, starts right here ….Leading us through the suspenseful plot, filled with humour and emotion, Minsos writes spare, clean prose. The late Mel Hurtig once said about her style, ‘Every word is right.’ In Minsos’ books we witness survival struggles, stereotypical biases and gender inequity. We follow the trail of shady land sharks and opportunistic religious scoundrels. Exposing documented thievery and tragic events of a place and time in our pre-Confederation era, the fabric of historical fiction is such that it allows us to glimpse into the heart of the indomitable human spirit. …. We cannot undo the past. But we can shape our destiny. A history lesson, yes. But such a joy to read.

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  • For non-fiction historical background, see Readings

 

Featured image: Chuck Jones creator

 

 

 

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