I have never read an historical novel before so I have no nothing to compare it to in that genre. But this was one great book. It follows one Hannali Innominee, a Choctaw Indian Mingo. A giant of a man which Lafferty makes you laugh with, cheer for and cry over in a trampling yarn that covers the one hundred years of Hannali Innominee’s adventurous life.
The book is part historical with many facts related to the treatment of the Territory Indians and that “Devil of the Indians” Andrew Jackson, to the their destruction during the Civil War. The book is also part tall tale, of which Lafferty was, undoubtedly, one of the masters. The tall tales are in the details of Hannali’s life as history plays its hand around him. That last sentence describes the undertone of the novel rather well because history is not something that would change a man, such a buffalo bull of a man, as Hannali Innominee.
As per usual, I do not like to give away stuff by going over the plot, but to give an indication and my approval or disapproval of the work’s merits (man, its been awhile since I have been disappointed). But I will go so far as to say Hannali’s showdown with his nemesis, Whiteman Falaya is something that is etched in my mind permanently. I can see everything that Hannali sees, hear and smell everything he does, so when he takes down Whiteman Falaya I felt I was also in spirit. Also Whiteman Falaya is a haunting sort of character, and frightening in a way that a stalker is; there is no reason for Falaya’s attacks on Hannali, no prelude to any of it, no instigating situation or action. He is like hate made for one man, a force of malice.
This is the one Lafferty book that is kept in constant print, so get off your duff and read it!