This is the 4th volume of my mountain man series of novels.
So what is the book about…and who is Colter’s friend?
The book is about a lot and that’s why it’s pushing 70,000 words, or nearly twice what the first book was.
As to who Colter’s friend is, well…it could be any of these people:
- George Drouillard;
- John Potts;
- Manuel Lisa;
- Benito Vasquez;
- Andrew Henry;
- William Clark;
- Meriwether Lewis.
Those are all main players in this book, all but John Potts – anyone who’s read the third book could tell you what happened to him.
When I set out to write this book a month or so ago I was firm that George Drouillard was Colter’s friend. That’s who’s on the cover, after all. Some readers will notice the yellow bandana that we referenced a lot in earlier books.
Anyways, a lot happens in this novel so he’s not the main focus. In fact, John Colter isn’t the main focus either. He doesn’t even come into the story until about three-quarters of the way through it.
Remember, Colter is upriver at Fort Raymond on the Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers. For this novel we start with Manuel Lisa pulling into St. Louis after he left the fort in July.
Here, take a look at the table of contents to get an idea of what this book will cover:
In this book we get into the heads of Auguste, Pierre, and A.P. Chouteau. We see how they combine with Manuel Lisa to form a joint business venture to get upriver.
A large part of this was William Clark acting as Indian Agent and Meriwether Lewis acting as Territorial Governor of Upper Louisiana. They ensured there’d be a military arm of this venture, mainly to get a Mandan Indian chief back home.
We juxtapose these events with events upriver among the combined tribes of the Blackfeet Nation. Chief Big Dog is ‘walking’ a slippery slope as he tries to keep a firm hold of power. Of course, many readers will know that he has some issues with walking. That’ll play into future books.
What I really like about this book are the new Blackfeet characters. As readers of the series will know, we go through a lot of Indian characters. People die – that’s life.
For this book we introduce a new bunch of hot-headed braves, the Wolves. These are the elite buffalo hunters of the Blackfeet, those that adhere to the old ways of chasing the buffalo down and running them off cliffs. They take their names from the wolf pelts they don in the hunt.
Countering this group are the She-Wolves, a dissatisfied group of female warriors that shun traditional Blackfeet life for a woman, which primarily consists of gathering, cleaning furs, and doing as your man says. These five women play a central part in our story moving forward.
There’s a lot more – the medicine man Cold Heart, the hesitant Chief Stone Bear, the wary Soaring Eagle, and the angry Little Jaw – and they form the basis of our political wrangling. All of this is build-up to the final books in this series.
I take a ‘months’ approach to this novel, with the parts sectioned off by month.
We go from August into September and then finish up in October. A final section takes place in November, the springboard for the next book that picks up right after this one.
Once we get into September we see a huge party of 13 boats head upriver. We see some forts along the way, have some incidents with Indians, and offer some insight into the mind of Meriwether Lewis. The man kills himself, after all, and we’ll get right into the dirty details of that in this book.
Finally when the men get upriver to the Mandan we have a reunion of sorts, then it’s back to work. The main element of this book that will lead to the others was the decision by Manuel Lisa to build a new fort, one right in Blackfeet territory.
Images of Places in the Books
What we’re talking about are the Three Forks of the Missouri.
Here I begin to take some liberties with history. This particular fort wasn’t set up until spring but I have the men setting it up in late-autumn. I also have them try to hold it through the winter.
Now’s the time to talk about what’s to come with this series, as I don’t want to give away too much more on this book.
Here, take a look at some of these maps:
For the 5th book in this series, “Colter’s Revenge,” we’ll confine ourselves to this small geographic area around the Three Forks. That’s why I made up this very simple map:
What it allows me is to visualize my novel’s world in such a way that I can write about it.
I’ve been doing this for a long time and have many books that were produced this way.
Besides that, here are some other images from the book:
For the next novel things are very action-oriented with lots of death. Many of those Wolves we mentioned will get wiped out, many of the men at the fort too.
It’ll be a bloodbath, one Colter heads right into, and does a large part making so bloody.
If you like cat-and-mouse games in the wilderness, during winter, and mainly at night, this book will be for you.
I’ll have Colter’s Friend out on December 8th and you can hear about it first, and get a discount, by signing up for my email list.
The next book in the series, “Colter’s Revenge,” will be out sometime in January.
Learn how the West was won at the most earliest stages and learn how Montana first got started.
Learn it all in a fun and enjoyable way with these books. Start your upriver journey today!