This is a tale of the borderlands; actually of several borderlands intersecting in the period just after the American Civil War. The first is the borderland between Texas and what is now New Mexico, and of the high empty plains of the Llano Estacada – the Staked Plain which separated the two. The second is the borderland between those long-established colonies of New Spain at the high-tide of their empire and the later Anglo-American settlers in Texas. Those emigrants were a thrusting, hustling, ambitious lot, who came with trade, with new ideas and a nearly unstoppable urge to tame the wild lands and bend them to what they felt was a more appropriate and ‘civilized” way. The third borderland of the story is a visualization of those years when what we think of as modernity began to shed its first tentative lights. The first half of the nineteenth century looked back; technologically most people lived as they had in the century before, a world of subsistence farms and powered by horses, connected by sail-powered transport. The latter half-century looked to the next; powered by steam, with vastly improved mass communications, medical technology and all the rest. That day was coming – and
The Cibolero” is set at that exact point in time and place where it all intersected.

Antonio Baca is a peaceful farmer of Nueva Mexico; a man of family and property, however tenuously he holds it against the avarice of the new emigrants. In his youth he was a cibolero – a skilled hunter of buffalo, a horseman who wielded a long and deadly lance. One day a small party of Texas Rangers appears at his house. They are on a search for an escaped criminal and have barely managed to cross the empty plains of the Llano Estacada on their hunt. These Rangers are that uncomfortable iteration between the early horse-mounted militia that they once had been and the disciplined law-enforcement body they would eventually become; at this time they are a little more than violent and barely-law abiding enforcers for Anglo interests in the Texas borderlands. Their ostensible leader is well-intentioned, but outnumbered and stuck with subordinates he cannot trust and does not respect. On an impulse, two of the Rangers kidnap Antonio Baca’s daughter Elena. So begins Antonio Baca’s quest to rescue her, as he follows the Rangers into the wild lands.

This book is a polemic as well as an adventure, so characterizations tends to suffer; characters are not primarily themselves, but there more to serve a point. But the descriptions of the life of the ciboleros, and of the long-established colonists in Nueva Mexico make up for this in no small part. The natural descriptions of topography and vegetation in a harsh but beautiful land are closely observed, almost lyrical. This is an aspect of the post-Civil War West that is not often touched upon – the borders where opposites came together… sometimes violently.

Cibolero is published by iUniverse and is available through Amazon.com

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

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