24 January 2005

3. Last of the Mohicans by JF Cooper

Great book. I can't say that enthusiastically enough. It was written in 1826 and is about the French & Indian Wars. It is the second book of the "Leatherstocking Tales" of which there are five books. I have already read the first, the Deerslayer. The main characters from that are in this as well.

In Deerslayer, the main characters, Deerslayer/Hawkeye and Chingachgook get into a jam at Lake Otswego. In LotM, a jam comes to them. After getting out of the first jam of the book (stumbling across an ambush set for someone else), they, like any good adventurers, shift priorities and accompany the daughters of an English commander to Ft William Henry. After the fort is given up to the French the daughters are kidnapped by Mingo Indians and taken up near Canada way. The heroes track the daughters and attempt a rescue.

Deerslayer, or Hawkeye, is a white man who "has no cross" and has lived among the Delaware his whole life. His best friend and running mate is Chingachgook, a chief of the Delaware. Not in the first book, but along for the ride in the second is Chingachook's son Uncas. He is the last of the Mohicans because Chingachgook has no other kids and the Delaware have been split up and dilluted by colonial empire-making.

If I didn't know better I would think the book was serialized. Each chapter ratchets up the action and intensity. The battle scenes are well described and fast paced. Not once does Cooper tell you what the characters are like, letting you see from their actions and the reactions of the other characters.

I have not seen the movie since it was in theatres, though fan favorite Madeleine Stowe is in it, and I think that since the book was so delicious I will skip seeing the movie again. Plus, the Mingo and Delaware tribes will probably be played very badly by white actors with bad accents and broken English.

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