I have enjoyed extremely some other works by H. L. Davis, most notably the novel Winds of Morning and the beautifully executed short story, "The Homestead Orchard." It was with pleasurable anticipation that I obtained Davis's prizewinning magnum opus.
But this monstrosity totally surprised me. The rendering of Oregon's history and geography is too far removed from the truth for a novel that is supposed to be a fanciful tapestry of Oregon's history and geography--it's so fanciful as to merely annoy. The characters are not well-developed and are cartoonish. I can stand fantasy sequences (loved Dickens's Little Dorrit), but this endless ramble exhausted my patience. I kept waiting to reach the good part. I should have given up after the first 100 pages.
H. L. Davis is a little-known and under-appreciated author whose works are not of even quality. Following is my list of his works that I've read, in order of my esteem from highest to lowest.
1. The Homestead Orchard--humorous, sad, joyous, beautifully crafted short story about a father and ex-con son.
2. Old Man Isbell's Wife--humorous, exceedingly poignant short story about an aging cowboy and his younger wife
3. Bench Squatters--poignant short story about a single dad and his kids
4. Flying Switch--action-packed hilarious short story about a runaway train
5. Open Winter--sweet & realistic short story about moving a herd of horses
6. Harp of a Thousand Strings--somewhat saga-like novel of the French Revolution related to the American experience
7. Winds Of Morning--novel about a young lawman investigating a crime
8. Several other short stories--some saga-like (with Davis, saga-like tends to mean it's boring)
9. The Distant Music--saga-like novel of an Oregon family's generations
10. Beulah Land--saga-like novel of America's westward movement
11. All of Davis's essays--not profound but they reveal Davis's thinking
12. The Kettle of Fire--a fictional legend that doesn't really work
13. Honey in the Horn--spare yourself! Saga-like, overlong, random, Pulitzer-prize winning, historically wildly inaccurate, pointless novel of Oregon history
To access the short stories, get a copy of his Collected Essays and Short Stories, published by the University of Idaho Press. Even better, if you can find it at a reasonable price, buy a copy of Davis's short story collection, Team Bells Woke Me (currently the best Amazon Marketplace price is $19.21, but this gets you Bench Squatters, Flying Switch, and some other lesser pieces not in the Collected Essays and Short Stories).