The Holy Road

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Holy Road is a truly gripping novel. Michael Blake continues the story of Dances With Wolves, his wife, Stands With A Fist, and their family, within the context of the post-Civil War period on the American Plains. They are a white-skinned family living as Comanches. She was captured as a child. Her husband, a former Army officer, is now a Hard Shield, a highly respected Comanche warrior. Their family has embraced the Comanche spirit and lifestyle.

Their compelling story is set within the greater context of the conflicts of the day. The expansion of white society, and the railroad in particular, threatens all that the Plains Indians hold sacred. “The Holy Road” is the railroad. The railroad stands as sign and symbol of the white hunters and soldiers who raped the land and the culture, and who, seeking to satisfy their own thirst for wealth, power, and land, brought the proud Comanche nation to its knees. The railroad literally and figuratively took away the buffalo, their most precious resource.

This is a very complex story and yet it is an easy book to read. Blake masterfully juxtaposes the internal and external struggles of Dances With Wolves, Stands With A Fist, Ten Bears, the sage leader of their village, the warrior Wind In His Hair, the peace-seeker Kicking Bird, the unlikely leader Smiles A Lot, and others. The struggles of the warriors, their women and children, and the perceptions of the white hunters and soldiers are woven in a tapestry of words that rivets the reader to each page. It is a story of courage, of love, of pride. It is a story also of great sorrow and resolve. It is a novel that will make readers think twice about what to believe in and the definition of “progress” in the modern world. In a very real sense this is a moral tale with a timeless message.