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Ian J. Anderson.

Toronto, Seal Books, c1983.
(The Scarlet Riders #1).
167pp, paper, $2.95.
ISBN 0-7704-1817-1.

Grades 7 and up.
Reviewed by Elvira D. Gosselin.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

Corporal Cavannagh, by Ian Anderson, is the first title in the new Scarlet Riders series. It is the story of a young commissioned officer in the United States Army who, for personal reasons, leaves to become a rookie in the newly established Royal Canadian Mounted Police corps. His story is intertwined with the early struggles of the corps to survive in the Canadian west. The lack of support and encouragement from the Canadian government and the constant attacks by the unfriendly Indian tribes take a heavy toll on Cavannagh and his fellow Mounties.

The novel is characteristically "short storyish," reminiscent of the usual Wild West, always-get-your-man Zane Grey adventure story. Corporal Cavannagh is caught between the idealistic philosophy of the RCMP and the strict, West Point military discipline he is accustomed to. The combination results in a rather successful conclusion.

The story line is somewhat weak, since the conflicts of man against man, man against self and nature are not sufficiently developed. However, the young readers will find the novel interesting and suspenseful. The language is clear, concise, descriptive, and sufficiently challenging because of the Indian and military terminology. The usual romantic girl-meets-boy aspect of many westerns is conspicuous by its absence. Only two female characters are introduced; one is merely alluded to, the other is a straight-laced missionary who plays a small but important part in helping Cavannagh when he is taken prisoner. Naturally, he eventually falls in love with her, but this turn of events is not important to the story.

The author was a Mountie for more than twenty-five years. During this time he developed a particular interest in the early history of the corps. His knowledge of the formation and development of the RCMP and his love for his native territory, the western provinces, give the novel a note of authenticity and educational value. The historically factual information about the conspiracies created by the Sioux, the Blackfoot, and the Cree Indians to drive whites from the western territories establishes the main thread of the story.

This is a book that will be enjoyed by boys and girls who are interested in the history of the Canadian west and by adults who are looking for light and relaxing reading.

Elvira D. Gosselin, Adult Learning Centre, Windsor, ON.
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