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Panther in the Sky

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,566 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Rich, colorful and bursting with excitement, this remarkable story turns James Alexander Thom's power and passion for American history to the epic story of Tecumseh's life and give us a heart-thumping novel of one man's magnificent destiny--to unite his people in the struggle to save their land and their way of life from the relentless press of the white settlers.
Paperback, 704 pages
Published February 13th 1990 by Ballantine Books (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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2014 Read of the Year!

Such a complete read, brilliant from start to finish taking you through the range of emotions, even me shouting at the British redcoats, so called allies of the Shawnee.

I couldnt do Panther in the Sky justice by review so i'd ask you to read a friends review below

Its a MUST read novel, you will love it
Harold Titus
Weshecat-welok’weshe laweh-pah. Translation: May we be strong by doing what is right. This Shawnee maxim is the major theme of James Alexander Thom’s Panther in the Sky, a historical novel I wholeheartedly recommend.

One reason is you will learn so much about the Algonquian/Shawnee culture as it existed in the Ohio River Valley during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Religious beliefs, ceremonies, social morays, games, agricultural practices, tools and weapons, clothing, house construction, the ro
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 29, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in native people and American history
Chief Tecumseh is my new hero. What an amazing individual. Many of the details of his life are in dispute and largely apocryphal, but there is no question that he was a brave visionary, extremely intelligent and able to inspire loyalty and devotion from all who knew him (white men included).

This book covers the entire life of Tecumseh, from the night of his birth in 1768 to his death in 1813. The author has that rare combination of patience for meticulous historical research coupled with stella
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 23, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Native American History
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
Just about all the reviews for this book I've seen on various sites are raves, but I can't say I liked this book much. My reaction to it was similar to my response to two other works of historical fiction I read over the last past months. One was Elizabeth Chadwick's The Greatest Knight about William Marshall, a figure from medieval English history, and the other was The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland about Josephine Bonaparte, the wife of Napoleon. In short, b ...more
Thom does historical fiction like no one I know of in today's world. He understands this time period (later 1700's to early 1800's) very, very well. His novel brings that world alive and his characters are very real. He uses real historical people in his novels and creates scenarios that MAY have happened based on the true historical account of the events that person(s) encountered at that time in history. I've never read a bad novel by Thom. You are safe with his books. I've read several and mo ...more
This is one of my favorite books of all time!! I love the fact that it presents a more realistic picture of how Native Americans were treated, bullied, lied to and feared. It also shows that Native Americans were human and had their own personal challenges, like we all do. I highly recommend this book!
If any book could be described as EPIC and truly earn the title, this is it. It covers Tecumseh's life from birth til death, in a well written and totally engaging way. A must read for anyone interested in Tecumseh or this era of American history.
This is a long book written in the late eighties and to my mind - a perfect mixture of historical fact and fiction. The author - James Alexander Thom is obviously passionately fascinated by Shawnee culture and has meticulously researched the way they lived their customs, beliefs and the mysticism inherent throughout his book. I found the detailed description of how they lived and who they were as people fascinating. Although we all know how Native Americans were treated and the tragic destructio ...more
Shirley Brown
As usual James Alexander Thom has written an epic. This story is a saga on the life of Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Indian chief and warrior. He was an amazing leader of his people whom he loved so much. This is an historical fiction, but it appears he married only once in his lifetime, and she was a very selfish woman He sent her back to her own people along with his only child, a son. She died and his son came to live with his people and his sister was like a mother to him. Tecumseh lived long ...more
Jay C

Great man. Great book.
Kathy L. Brown
I started this book to learn more about the Native American experience here in the Midwest. While I think we all have an academic, intellectual knowledge that the European settlement of the "New World" adversely affected the indigenous populations, this book communicated what it was like to be on the receiving end of the experience. It is a fictionalized biography of Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief that held out against American westward expansion for as long--longer---than anyone could have dreamed ...more
Star Johnson
Thom does a good job of mixing history with some fiction. It keeps the pace flowing and gives a reader a great inside view of what the character may have been thinking or feeling. In this book about Tecumseh it shows events from the native American point of view. At times it is heart breaking as we see their native lands slowly disappearing and the Indians constantly being moved west and treaties being constantly broken by the white people with their never ending hunger for more space in the new ...more
Richard Schick
A great biography of one of mankind's unexplainable individuals. An American Indian who unites his tribes, is a more eloquent speaker in English than most whites of the time, becomes commander of joint Indian and white Armies and gains the respect of his white Generals as a superior tactitian, and foretells the future with specific dates and locations.
I really enjoyed the story of this book, however, I found the characters, dialogue and events to be highly Americanized -- giving the Native Americans a truly "white man" feel. I left me feeling that there was little of the Native American culture in this book and a truly one sided, idealized story.

Becky Norman
One of the best books I've read in a long time. Thom's portrayal of Tecumseh is tremendous: his passion for his People and the juxtaposition of his gentleness compared to that of his fierce battle acumen shines through bright and clear. Living and travelling extensively in the areas where Tecumseh was born, lived and died gives me an even greater appreciation of what Thom is conveying in this novel: the Shawnee culture and their adoration of their land was certainly blotted out by the "American ...more
This was really tough to get through, because it's about 700 pages, and about 650 pages were detailed war accounts between the British, Americans, and Indians. The auther did extensive research to keep it as accurate as he could, and did a fantastic job in that aspect. I will admit I previously knew very little about Native American History, or their culture, or the battles that were fought over land....and I learned a ton!! However, I think this might be more of a "guy" book. I loved the Indian ...more
This book started slow for me. It has the usual Thom feel, with great detail about the lifestyle of the people depicted, but for some reason it took me a while to feel connected. Once I did, I enjoyed it very much... for a while. Then the last quarter or so of the book didn't do a lot for me, and I never could put my finger on why. The level of detail changed as did my connection to the characters, and whether there was a lack of information, or if it just became awkward for the author to pull i ...more
A great work of historical fiction about the life of Tecumseh. A great way to learn about the iconic Shawnee leader.
It is difficult for me to stop thinking about the Shawnee people in this book and their way of life. The battles are highly detailed, but it didn't get slow for me, but it might not be for everyone. I enjoyed learning about how the Indians lived during this time, and coped with the intrusion of the white settlers. Stating the obvious perhaps, but learning about all the details of the multitude of lies and deceit and greed from the Americans was sickening and heartbreaking. And in light of all th ...more
Vicki Tate
I thoroughly enjoyed all 655 pages of this historical novel. I found it exciting and often heart-wrenching, yet a seemingly fair representation of the life and times of the Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh (Shooting Star) and of his family. The book follows Tecumseh from his birth to his death at a battle in Canada in 1813. I enjoy Thom's narrative and find his writing fresh and objective. He is also the author of another favorite of mine, Follow the River, about Mary Ingalls and her capture by Indians ...more
Brian Andersen
Easily one the the finest accounts of the Shawnee leaders life and struggle. I walked away from the book with a greater sense and understanding of this time period and the other players such as Open Door (his brother The Prophet) Star Watcher (his motherly sister) and Harrison than ever before. Thom's writing style is engaging and exciting without being over the top. It is obvious he did his homework on the history and has a great talent from turning those facts into a great narrative. If you ha ...more
An absolutely phenomenal biography of Tecumseh and an historical account of the Indian Removals. The author really brings the reader into this story where you feel like you are walking along side the tribal members through their trials and triumphs. The author is married to a descendant of Thick Water, Tecumseh's closest friend and "body guard", therefore, it is believed that this is one of the truest accounts of what took place during the time period. Just an amazing book, especially if you enj ...more
Susan Kamps
Exceptionally well researched fiction about Tecumseh, the Shawnee people, and white expansion which decimated their nation. Personally, it was a bit too long for me... I found myself skipping battle scenes. But excellent, nonetheless.
Dec 01, 2008 Marcel marked it as to-read
A fictional retelling of the life of the Shawnee Indian warrior, Tecumseh. His birth, in 1768, was heralded by a shooting star, and his life as a leader of his people bears out the star's portent. Fearing the colonists more than the British, he sided with the redcoats during the Revolutionary War. He was killed in 1813 by the forces of General William Henry Harrison.
Interesting story of the life of Tecumseh but at almost 700 pages there was a little too much detail of the day to day life of Native Americans for my taste. I had to force myself to finish and, to be honest, did a lot of skimming at the end. I find nonfiction accounts of the lives and culture of Native Americans much more interesting.
Even though I knew how it was going to end, it still made me sad.
Pamela Gibson
Great concept, good setting, well researched, dreadful writing. Thom seems to have lifted one of Jean Auel's books and changed the setting, without her sense of story, character or drama. I love history, and the map area of the book is where I grew up, but I simply couldn't finish it. The book is patronizing, obvious, shallow and turgid, and it wastes paper.
Wow! Very historical and detailed. I sometimes wondered why the author was going in a certain direction only to be revealed later on. Take your time reading this. I really enjoyed it. But beware it can be graphic and sensual. I am really beginning to like this author and will read more after taking some time off for light reads that have been waiting for me.
It is very difficult for me to give this one star when I read the other reviews but I did not like it, I think I would have liked it if I had read it when a teen but not now, I put it down many times over the two weeks of its reading but kept thinking it would get better and started again reading. I wish I had left it unread the first week.
This book was fantastic it kept me reading every chance I got. I have always been one of those people who romanticized native Americans and though they were brutal this book has not changed my mind in the least! I look forward to reading the other Thom books. This author writes from all sides of a story. Will be reading "Long Knife" soon!!
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James Alexander Thom (born 1933) is an American author, most famous for his works in the Western genre. Born in Gosport, Indiana, he graduated from Butler University and served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a former professor of journalism at Indiana University, and a contributor to the The Saturday Evening Post. His fifth wife, Dark Rain Thom was a member of the Shawnee United Remnant ...more
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