Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (3/13)
Article first published as Book Review: Bear! by Vel Orr on Blogcritics.
The novel “Bear!” by Vel Orr opens with the scene describing the savage attack of a powerful giant Grizzly Bear and the death of Rose McClendon. Rose was the love interest of Jim Early, a civilian scout assigned to Custer’s 7th Cavalry. Jim becomes driven with an obsession to pursue the bear and avenge Rose’s death.
Vel Orr captures the intrigue and drama of the Dakota Territory in the years immediately following the Civil War. By 1873 the government is actively tracking new treaties with the Indian Tribes as the frontier moves further west.
Orr’s creative imagination, intuitive insight, and thorough research combine to bring an authentic sense of reality that is seldom found, even in autobiographical writing and eye witness accounts. Orr gives careful attention to detail in his descriptions of the Dakota’s locale, the Cheyenne customs, relationships and rites. He reveals a broad base of interesting awareness of the habits of wildlife, the military and gold mining.
His characters are believable, revealing the deep-seated hatred between soldiers often found among the opposite sides during the Civil War and racial bias and hatred of those fighting with the Rebel forces. Loyalty, greed, and enduring love are among other core values instilled in Orr’s characters. He gives an amazing insight into the savagery and inhumane acts of the U. S. Military against the Indians in the Westward move across the continent and the Indians equally savage retaliation, as they defend their people, their land, and their buffalo hunting grounds.
“Bear!” by Vel Orr will be enjoyed by the American History aficionado, nature and wildlife lovers, and student of Indian history and legends.