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Thirteen Moons

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  12,186 ratings  ·  1,799 reviews
At the age of twelve, an orphan named Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent on a journey through the uncharted wilderness of the Cherokee Nation. Will is a bound boy, obliged to run a remote Indian trading post. As he fulfills his lonesome duty, Will finds a father in Bear, a Cherokee chief, and is adopted by him and his people, developing ...more
Hardcover, First Trade, 422 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Random House (first published January 1st 2006)
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Susan Summers I adored this book, I stretched out the reading of it just to keep hearing his voice. Charles Frazier in true Southern style loves language, he loves…moreI adored this book, I stretched out the reading of it just to keep hearing his voice. Charles Frazier in true Southern style loves language, he loves story telling, and he loves to develop his characters and let them live large in our hearts long after the book is closed. Thirteen Moons also told an important tale that harkens back to my heritage, and is not told in such detail and with such human passion anywhere else. A fabulous read. I loved Cold Mountain, I love that Frazier takes so long to turn loose his polished gems, and I am in his debt for providing me with such reading pleasure, if only every so many years.(less)
Sue Roselle I also listened to the book on audio. Narrator was simply wonderful. His voice adds dimension to the story. Just keep reading. The initial section is…moreI also listened to the book on audio. Narrator was simply wonderful. His voice adds dimension to the story. Just keep reading. The initial section is slow, and then it becomes very engaging

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Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just wrote a lengthy review of this excellent book and apparently GoodReads was having server problems just as I was submitting it.

So...I don't have the stomach to type all that out again, so kindly believe me when I tell you that Thirteen Moons is a tremendous accomplishment. Sure, it may be a somewhat cliched "going native" story, but the narrative is actually based on the life of the historical figure William Holland Thomas (his name has been changed to William Cooper in the novel). Plus
Erica Verrillo
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I started this book, I felt some trepidation. I didn't think that Frazier could top Cold Mountain. As it turned out, he didn't have to. Will's story was a whole new world, one which completely captivated me. It's been months now since I finished the book, and I can still remember all the characters - Will, Claire, Bear - as vividly as if I'd known them for years.

Charles Frazier, whether or not you like his subject matter, has what all novelists strive for and what very few achieve: the
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-writers
A lot of people didn't think the follow up to Frazier's widely acclaimed COLD MOUNTAIN was nearly as good. However, I beg to disagree. I still dwell on this book 11 years after reading it. I thought THIRTEEN MOONS had a great story and wonderful characters. I can still see the old Indian coming into the general store and sitting down by the fire. He would limit himself to 5 whiskeys, which he sipped leisurely as he gazed into the flames, content with his thoughts and memories.
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier is a book of historical fiction based on the life of William Holland Thomas (1805 - 1893). Thomas became the Principal Chief of the East Band of Cherokee Indians, the only White to ever hold such a position. In the book, William Holland Thomas goes under the name of Will Cooper and is the prime protagonist.

Will, an elderly man at the opening of the book, recounts his life story, from childhood to old age. Orphaned at a young age, Featherstone and Bear, become
4.5 rounded up. In ‘Thirteen Moons’ by Charles Frazier, I felt submerged into the natural environment; his eloquent descriptions of wooded forests, mountain vistas, laurel thickets, and the animals that live therein evoke strong emotions, because for me it is familiar. My growing up years were filled with hikes and picnics in the North Carolina woods. That beautiful natural world exists still, although not in the fullness or lushness of the time period of this novel. It is land where once the ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was likely my favorite of the year, and I’ve read some great ones. It reminds to withhold those 5 star ratings as a general strategy, so they are available for books like this. When I find great fiction like this, it makes me wonder why I struggle through “difficult” books at times – great writing can be a delight, and maybe the greatest writers understand that and have a special skill to tell a tale in a way that is informative, historical, educational, insightful and just plain ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite riveting.

When 12-year-old orphan Will Cooper is handed a key, a horse, and a map, he sets off on an incredible journey. The map takes him through the wilderness of the Cherokee Nation. A bound boy, he must work at a trading post.

Although forced to work at the post, a job he finds unfulfilling, it is the starting point for his real life to begin. He is adopted into the Cherokee Nation, and a man named Bear becomes a father to him. Life is suddenly worth living again - and a
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: patient readers
Like Cold Mountain, this took me awhile to appreciate. But once I did, wow...there is so much beauty in words, landscape and life study to enjoy.

A sweeping epic of a man's life from the early 1800s to the end of the century in the American South, Frazier describes the harsh realities of a young and sometimes immature government as it expands its territory and faces its own human rights abuses. He does this through the life of Will Cooper, a bound boy on his own since his eleventh year and a man
A girl in one of my English classes last semester said of this book, "I always get sucked into that Appalachian shit." Frazier romanticizes the lifestyle and landscape of pre-urbanization America better than many writers, making it pretty easy to get 'sucked into that shit.'

However, I think he captured the fertile wonder of the natural world and its rhythms in his first novel, the well-known 'Cold Mountain,' than he does here. When he's at his best, his images of man living in nature can remind
Melissa Franckowiak
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Starts off strong with lovely prose.
Hansen Wendlandt
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I suppose this novel may be even more interesting for people familiar with the Appalachians or the natural life, but anyone can appreciate Frazier’s great characters, adventure, romance and occasionally sympathetic but ultimately realistic lament for the ‘progress’ of civilization over native culture. This is an entertaining story with great balance of action and depth, moving the many plots smoothly along without sacrificing any detail. He writes conversations masterfully, especially the great ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Charles Frazier is a master of storytelling in the tradition of those ancient storytellers who recited their lore before camp fires and in public places. I can understand why he is at home with his subject matter in Thirteen Moons, as the lives of American indians were passed in just such a manner. Will Cooper bears witness to a sad and shameful period of history, but does so without sentimentality, blame, or the shirking of blame. Will, Claire, Featherstone and Bear emerge as three-dimensional ...more
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Set in NC Mountains during, before, and after the removal of the Native Americans, when land beyond the Mississippi was wilderness and Tennessee was considered "The West".
Protagonist: William Cooper, also narrator
Love: Claire Featherstone
Antagonist: Featherstone, Claire's father
Also: Bear, father figure and friend to Narrator

Language, Communication, Mistranslation
Brevity of youth, brevity of life
Life as suffering with only short reliefs
Loss of Identity

"The fleeting nature of our
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A fictionalized attempt to being to life the history of Appalachian North Carolina in the 19th century.

Will Cooper is a stand-in for the real-life William Holden Thomas (despite the author’s assertions to the contrary), a white orphan who lives among the Cherokee, rises to the position of “white chief” among them, becomes a Confederate soldier, US senator, lawyer and landowner in those halcyon days when the West was opening up, and then who loses everything as he gets to the end of his life and
Sharon Huether
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
An orphan, Will Cooper sets out on a lifetime of adventure. He had a horse, maps and very little money. He makes friends with "Bear" from the Cherokee nation. Will never forgot his first love Claire. He was against the government relocation of the Indian Nation. He was never afraid to travel and was a lawyer. He owned many general stores. He grew to love the finer things in life, good food, literature. The author wrote the story in a very flowing manner.
May 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Fans of historical fiction.
"Cold Mountain" was such an amazing work of literature, that pretty much anything Frazier followed up with was bound to suffer by comparison. But I think this book particularly fails to deliver on the promise of talent that Frazier showed in his first novel.

"Thirteen Moons" is the story of a man named Will. It is essentially his "autobiography," written as he is dying around the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century. The plot is linear, moving from Will's childhood to his old age.
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: lovers of cowboys
In many ways, Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons reads like a homage to James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, as well as a gratuitous appraisal of the birth and death of U.S. cowboy culture. The protagonist and narrator, Will Cooper, might as well be a long-lost relative of Natty Bumpo (whom he often references), a white man "going native" in a small community of Cherokee. The most interesting thing about the book is Frazier's research into the lives and particularly the ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
I was completely captivated by Charles Frazier's inaugural novel, Cold Mountain. The journey of the protagonist, the elements of the time, the food, paths, war; I was very taken with the writing and the story. I happened to be traveling in the Carolinas at the time of reading Cold Mountain which I confess might have deepened the novel's impression on me. I was enamored of the prose. So, when recently perusing the my public library, my wife suggested Thirteen Moons, who was I to say no? Not I. I ...more
Amazing! I listened to this on audio and it was so good. If I could give it more stars, I would. It was beautifully written, I fell in love with the MC and found the narrator for this audio perfect. Very few books hit my "to re-read list" but this one is in, no doubt. I am a huge fan now of Charles Frazier.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Appalachia, much like American history in general, will never be my subject of choice, but every so often an author comes along who makes it interesting and rewarding reading experience. Frazier has done so with Nightwoods and it was a reasonably good assumption that he might again, although technically this is in reverse chronological order. Alas, this book lacked Nightwoods succinct grace and subtlety and failed to make up for it in verbosity, being something like time and a half the size. ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after seeing it in the gift shop of the Museum of the Cherokee in Cherokke, NC. I have an interest in Native American writers and topics, as well as an interest in the history of the land surrounding the Smoky Mountains, a vacation spot my husband and I have visited frequently. Although fiction, Frazier took great pains to research the Cherokee people and their complex history with the land. Barbara Duncan, Education Director for the Museum, was one of his sources. It does NOT ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A solid four and a half stars, rounded up for the unique voice Charles Frazier achieves in crafting Will Cooper, an entirely believable character made up of a pastiche of real people, real events, real places and mountain myths.

Yes, it's a long book, a rambling tale that takes too long to tell and could easily lose 100 pages of Will Cooper riding aimlessly around in the wilderness. But that's part of its charm; few actual lives have a consistent story arc. I was happy listening to Will tell, in
Grace Harwood
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I first started writing,an editor advised me that a writer should always "make every word work for its space in the manuscript; making every word count". I don't think I've achieved it with every single word I've ever written, probably not even in the one that's been published, but Charles Frazier does. Every single word counts towards making this one of the most beautiful, evocative historical novels I have ever read. The character I loved most was Waverley, Will's beloved horse. There is ...more
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sad sacks, loney hearters, nostalgia fiends
Recommended to Julia by: No one; I picked it up off the shelf
This very long, very adjective-packed book is basically a study in heartbreak, and I would only reccommend it to those who like that sort of thing. The main character and narrator, one Will Cooper, has everything taken from him in his life, with the exception of money. That he seems to have a talent for accumulating (although in one chapter he looses that too, only to gain it again.) Everyone he loves is taken from him or voluntarily leaves, the homes that he knows don't hold any power over his ...more
Paul (formerly known as Current)
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
Like Cold Mountain, this carefully written book covers a place and a time--weaving history into the fabric of its fiction--in a way that non-fiction cannot (and probably should not), bringing them to life. Whereas Cold Mountain is a story of epic quest modeled on the Odyssey with a love story as its major impetus, Thirteen Moons appears at first glance to be a biography told as the arc of a year's thirteen moons--birth to old age. Trapped by the teller in this story, his narration captures and ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This man can write. No doubt about that. 4 Stars Not as good as his first one Cold Mountain but definitely worth the time. The sad history of the Cherokee people comes through, the surviving tribe members are not the threat of a couple generations earlier:

The way I eventually pieced it together, the history of Bear’s people was something like the following. In another century, these had been the kind of people that if you didn’t watch out trespassing through their country, they’d make moccasins
Dec 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-novel
It's a rare 1st person narrator I enjoy keeping company with for over 400+ pgs. Other than Huck Finn, I'm having trouble thinking of notable exceptions (feel free to enlighten me with suggestions). In the case of Will Cooper, narrator of TM, he was entertaining, dramatic, witty and compellingly melancholic about half the time; the other half he was annoying, self-inflated, borderline whiny and just too damn talky. Frazier sets him up as a kind of Thoreauvian witness of America in the 19th c, ...more
Sarita Rich
May 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My dad gave me this book with lots of pages dogeared. I loved every page! I especially loved Frazier's descriptive style and how every time he detailed what what Will was eating, I wanted some too. Here's one of my favorite passages from when Will and Bear are in the winter house:

Day and night came not to signify. Our light was the fire. Smoke lay in a cloud above our heads, where it collected before going out the little hole. We kept housecat hours, sleeping three fourths of the day, and the
Dec 18, 2007 rated it liked it
I'm veering between three and four stars here, because I'm still not sure what I think about this book. I mean, it's so rambling and picaresque, and there's really no plot to it...and yet, there's just something about it that makes me kinda like it. I mean, just the descriptions alone are beautiful, and Frazier's heartbreaking account of Removal and war are so full of truth and despair and humor. It made me laugh that every second character who came to southern Appalachia (and by the way, it's ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
Being from the Mountains of VA and being part Cherokee I was really excited about this book. Some of the narrative was very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed the views on nature and native American culture.
This book never really captivated my interest and I only got about 150 pages into it. Character development was sorely lacking and I'm not wasting anymore time on this thing.

In the past I would always slave on and just get through a book as fast as possible regardless of how much I
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Charles Frazier is an award-winning author of American historical fiction. His literary corpus, to date, is comprised of three New York Times best selling novels: Nightwoods (2011), Thirteen Moons (2006), and Cold Mountain (1997) - winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

Librarian Note: There are multiple authors in the goodreads database with this name. more info here.
“Survive long enough and you get to a far point in life where nothing else of particular interest is going to happen. After that, if you don’t watch out, you can spend all your time tallying your losses and gains in endless narrative. All you love has fled or been taken away. Everything fallen from you except the possibility of jolting and unforewarned memory springing out of the dark, rushing over you with the velocity of heartbreak. May walking down the hall humming an old song—“The Girl I Left Behind Me”—or the mere fragrance of clove in spiced tea can set you weeping and howling when all you’ve been for weeks on end is numb.” 30 likes
“It is a bad idea to live too long. Few carry it off well.” 29 likes
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