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IN BRIEF

Fiction

June 20, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

DAWN LAND: A Novel by Joseph Bruchac (Fulcrum Publishing: $19.95; 317 pp.). Joseph Bruchac, a Native American storyteller, writes in the introduction to "Dawn Land" that his first novel is "a melding of historical facts and native tradition, as well as ideas about the world and the role of human beings in it." That can be a problematic formulation, but Bruchac proves deft at mixing fact, myth and authorial vision--although the reader is often left wondering just how much faith to put in Bruchac's portrayal of "pre-contact" life in the Adirondack Mountains. Young Hunter, a promising son of the Only People of the Dawn Land, has been chosen by village elders to help his tribe when it is threatened by mysterious beings called the Ancient Ones. He must journey through the mountains, with his three dogs, in search of courage, assistance and the enemy itself, remembering in the course of his trek the history of his people and the events that have led to the current crisis. We never doubt that Young Hunter will succeed in his task: The one open question is whether he will return to the Only People (the Abenaki) or stay with the Longhouse People (the Iroquois) who adopt him before he confronts the enemy. "Dawn Land" will seem overly romantic to many readers, but it's a compelling story, lyrically told.

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