on 19 October 1998
Marshall provides a deep insight into the Native American world through the medium of the novel. The tale describes a society's reaction to agents of change and the means by which the changes are assimilated into culture.
Winter of the Holy Iron describes the affects of the "white man" and the new technologies used by the "white man" on Native American culture. Rather than being a simple comparitive novel, Marshall weaves a tale of conflict, understanding, and uncertainty from the perspective of a Native American but does not come to conclusions. According to the story, these types of change face us all -- across time and across cultures. This universal treatment makes Marshall's novel interesting reading and a compelling analysis of Native American and White cultures.
Marshall portrays the Native American as far more than a passive character in history or the blood-thirsty savage. Marshall's works define the Native American as an active participant in history. This refreshing perspective, along with his oral-storytelling-tradition-on-paper writing style, define the the Native American as active and not necessarily reactionary. Even today, Marshall's tale still accurately describes the issues between acceptance of foreign ideas and goods (assimilation) and the rejection of such ideas.
I have read Marshall's two other works in book form (I found his works by chance). Winter of the Holy Iron is different from his essays but embodies the best of his short essay narratives and descriptions (like those from Dance House : Stories from Rosebud). The novel is very well written and allows Marshall to develop characters that are unforgettable -- something he also masters in his short essays. This book is a true 5 star work.