Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1056
This novel is over 600 pages long and has many characters who appear only for a couple of pages. The novel is set over a period of almost 90 years and focuses mainly on events in 1907 and 1993.
The main characters in 1907 are:
Reverend James Henderson: a Scottish protestant minister. He is stationed with a group of white men who are building a railroad through the Rocky mountains. He speaks a basic level of the language that the indigenous Canadians speak and so acts as an interpreter between them and the crew of workers. He is also part of a sacrifice that traps the Trickster back in the mountain.
Angus McEwan: a Scottish engineer, head of the crew of workmen. He has no respect for the knowledge, rights, and beliefs of the indigenous people. He is murdered by the Trickster spirit.
Hunting Wolf: An indigenous Canadian shaman who foresees the white men releasing the Trickster and tries to warn them. He is the father of Walks Alone/Eden James and Snowchild, and he is the husband of Singing Trees. He sacrifices himself to trap the Trickster back in the mountain.
Walks Alone/Eden James Hunting Wolf: son of Hunting Wolf, a child in 1907. He sees the sacrifice that his father makes to trap the Trickster spirit. He is also the grandfather of Sam Hunt, who is a main character in the 1993 storyline. Eden appears in the 1993 sections of the book as an old man in flashbacks that Sam and Calvin have.
The main characters in 1993 are:
Sam Hunt/Sam Hunting Wolf: An indigenous Canadian man living in Silver. He works as a ski-run groomer and has a wife, Katie, and two children, Billy and Jesse. He is the son of Moses and Marlene, the grandson of Eden James/Walks Alone, and the great-grandson of Hunting Wolf. Sam left the Kinchuinick reserve in 1973 after he was molested by his shaman mentor, Calvin, and falsely believed that he murdered his alcoholic and abusive father. He is the keeper of the Isksaksin, a talisman and shamanic knowledge which allow him to defeat the Trickster. Sam is portrayed as a good-hearted and handsome family man who is trying to avoid the memory of his painful childhood and adolescence. He refuses to discuss his past with his wife, and he becomes angry when he sees people trying to foist indigenous stereotypes onto his children.
Katie Hunt nee Crosby: A woman whp has been holidaying in Silver since she was a child, with her white upper-middle-class parents. She is repeatedly described as blonde-haired and blue-eyed. In 1993, Katie lives in Silver with her husband Sam, son Billy, and daughter Jesse. She works as the curator at the town’s museum and has done extensive research into indigenous Canadian history, but she cannot discuss it with her husband. She loves Sam deeply, but at one point in the novel she doubts him and believes he may have hurt their son.
Billy Hunt/Billy Running Wolf: Son of Sam and Katie Hunt. Despite being brought up with no knowledge of his indigenous heritage, Billy begins having dreams where he is running with his wolf spirit animal. Throughout the book he becomes more afraid of his father, until he communicates with spirits who teach him about the Trickster. His best friend is his Husky, Bart.
Craig McGee: Sergeant of Silver’s police force. Two of his officers are murdered by the Trickster, and he points the finger at Sam for these murders, but after researching indigenous Canadian history, he realizes that it is not a cut-and-dry police case. Craig’s wife died of cancer and this grief follows him through the book. Craig is present for the final showdown with the Trickster.
Calvin Bitterhand: a shaman who was taught by Sam’s grandfather, Eden, and who eventually taught Sam. At the opening of the novel, Calvin is an alcoholic living on the streets, but when he realizes that the Trickster has been released, he purifies himself and makes the long and painful journey back to Silver to help Sam. Calvin molested Sam when he was a teenager when he was Sam’s shamanic mentor. Calvin is portrayed as having spent 20 years grieving for the loss of this culture and relationship. When they meet again Calvin still feels “in love” with Sam. Calvin dies as part of the process to trap the Trickster in 1993.
Secondary characters in 1993:
Pasqual Weaver: executive and owner of the Silver Ski Resort. She is portrayed as ruthless and heartless, but we learn that she has had to make sacrifices to get where she is.
Eric Sindon: Pasqual’s long-suffering assistant. He does much of the hard work of running the ski resort and deals with the fallout of the Trickster’s impact on the resort’s bottom line.
Daniel Hawk: indigenous Canadian, one of Craig McGee’s constables who is murdered by the Trickster. He lives in Silver with his indigenous wife and son and continues to speak Siouan language. He investigates when Sam’s father’s body was found on the reserve, and he leaves a clue for McGee.
Moses and Marlene (Hunt/Hunting Wolf—NOT Sitconski): They do not appear in 1993, but we learn about them through flashbacks. They are Sam’s parents. They are both alcoholics and Moses is extremely violent; he beat Marlene so badly she lost an eye, and then he watched her choke to death on her own vomit. Moses’s father, Eden, refused to teach him as a shaman, so Moses murdered him. Moses dies when he calls the Trickster in 1973. His body is discovered mutilated in the same way as the others, but his death is not properly investigated because he is indigenous.
Wilber Stonerider: an indigenous Canadian man who sees the Trickster and tries to warn people about it. He is ignored because he is an alcoholic and is then arrested for the murders. Wilber is murdered by the Trickster after he is released without charge.
The Trickster: this character appears in both periods in the book. It is intentionally slippery, and inhabits many forms. At various points in the book the Trickster possesses other people and animals’s bodies or wears a disguise. The Trickster introduces themselves as Snowchild Sitconski, Moses Sitconski, and Marlene Sitconski, as well as appearing as a nameless blue-eyed man/woman.