The Chumash people have been enslaved by the Spanish. Herded into a mission, prodded by soldiers, they are converted by the priests. And in that conversion, all memory of their past as a free people is erased.

However, there are some Chumash still free, hiding and fighting for their homeland. Black Wolf is one such warrior. He manages to escape the torture of slavery and re-learn the ancient ways. The experience has made him strong and more in touch with his spirit.

However, when he kills a soldier who is raping a woman, he puts not only his own life in danger, but also the future of his village. Thus, he watches as several soldiers with two women approach the village, curious as to why women would enter such a primitive terrain. Black Wolf draws closer to assess the situation.

Lucita Rodriguez rides along with her parents, seeing this as a great adventure. Then she sees the warrior stand and threaten their entourage from a distance. "Savages," her father tells her, yet she also detects a noble bearing and a stirring of her spirit.

Lucita's life is about to change: her mother will have her faith tested; her father, a soldier and leader, will show his true self; and Lucita will have to make decisions that will change her life.

WIND WOMAN is so well-written that readers would undoubtedly believe in the existence of the Chumash tribe even if it hadn't. All of Ms. Munn's characters are full of depth and utterly three-dimensional. This was a violent time in history and Ms. Munn records it well, without ever turning the reader off-and never shirking from her duty to portray everything both accurately and romantically. (Mar., 384 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Cyndie Dennis-Greer