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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
If you like historical fiction with a military theme, Ever the Wayward Sky by Oliver Phipps is for you. Set in the period just after the American Civil War, it describes the travels of James Taft, a former sergeant in the Union cavalry. Having inflicted his share of death on the battlefield, James suffers from recurring nightmares. Not feeling able to return to a quiet Pennsylvania farm life, he gets on a horse and rides west, eventually ending up in Oregon. There, he’s adopted into a small band of Indians and takes a wife, finally believing that in her love and in his new life, he will find inner peace at last. But the tribal shaman warns him about a vision and James will find himself tragically lost to life once again.
In Ever the Wayward Sky, Phipps gives us a protagonist who can’t easily get past the death and violence of war simply because it’s declared over. There are too many ghosts, and the near-death intensity of the battlefield is still too palpable. Phipps conveys the anguish that James experiences in a masterful and very believable way. There are spots where I found the narrative a little slow. That said, the plot moves from one setting to another at a good pace and is thoroughly engaging as it unfolds and reveals unexpected twists and turns. “We cannot claim our destiny,” James’ Indian father-in-law advises him. “We can only live the best way possible and do the best we can with what comes our way.” A moving and thoughtful tale.