The Secret Path of Destiny is Book Two of The Indian Path Series. Each book in The Indian Path Series focuses on a different Native American tribe during the Indian Wars in the late 1800s, and the lives of fictional characters are woven into the true events. Other books in the series include The Sacred Path of Tears, Book One, about the Cheyenne in Kansas after the Sand Creek Massacre, and The Crimson Path of Honor, Book Three, about the Lakota in the northern Plains and Rocky Mountains.
In The Secret Path of Destiny, a disabled German-American girl, Isolde, and her destitute mother reach out to a German town in Texas for help. It's 1865, and the Comanche are at war, but their benefactor poses an even greater threat. It is a story of danger and survival and finding love in the most unexpected places.
The theme of The Indian Path Series is how to find life's purpose and a path of peace, love, courage, and faith in times of trouble. As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."
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My mother loves fine literature and opera. Although we're poor, her goal has
always been to make sure I have been exposed to both. I can't tell you the number
of times we sneaked into the back of the Astor Opera House in New York City to
hear the latest opera from Europe.
Although I always tagged along on her adventures, I agree with what Rossini,
the Italian composer, once said about opera, "One can't judge Wagner's opera
Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend to hear it a second time."
I think I'm an even harsher critic. There are some operas I don't even want to hear
for the first time.
I keep asking myself, am I being unfair, even immature about opera, and why is
opera such a thorn in my life? I'll try to explain, although I admit it's complex. First
things first, my name is Isolde Margarethe Bachmann, and yes, it's true. I'm named
for the infamous Isolde, the scandalous adulteress of medieval and renaissance
Although she was betrothed to another, the infamous Isolde took a love potion
and entranced her lover, Tristan. Her age was never mentioned, but I've always
assumed she was sixteen like me. She was obviously more precocious than me,
however, to be involved in a love triangle at such a tender age.
I've often wondered what my mother was thinking when she named me Isolde.
Did she think no one would ever discover the origins of my name or associate me
with the shameful adulteress? Worse yet, many cultures believe that people's names
foreshadow who they will become and what attributes they will possess. If that's
true, I could be in deep trouble.
When I was younger, I admit I thought the name Isolde (which is pronounced
ǐh-SOAL-duh) was pretty, and it flowed like a ribbon of water in a sunlit waterfall.
I also agree it's been fun to have a unique name that's different from my other
classmates. I've also been lucky. Most of my friends aren't particularly interested
in reading books from the Middle Ages. So, I never worried about my notoriety in
the world of literature.
Then the impossible fluke happened. My mother's favorite composer, Richard
Wagner in Germany, suddenly decided to put the whole ghastly love triangle to
music in an opera called Tristan and Isolde, which recently made its debut in Munich
in 1865. Suddenly, the anonymity of my name is gone.
To all my new schoolmates, I'm mockingly referred to as a star-crossed,
adulterous lover who sings my death aria out of a body bag. Actually, it's my lover
Tristan who dies first and who sings out of his body bag. Whoever is in the bag, it's
not the cat any longer because, in a cruel twist of fate, the illicit escapades of my
namesake a thousand years ago have jumped front and center onto the streets of my
new hometown in Texas.
I know it sounds farfetched that a famous German composer and his new
opera can wreak havoc on my life clear across the Atlantic Ocean in the middle
of Comanche Indian country. But the fact is that Wagner, the beloved German
composer and conductor, is a cult hero to many residents of my town and reminds
them of their German heritage.
My new home is an unusual place called Fredericksburg, or Friedrichsburg
as it's known in German. It's a wholly German settlement in the heart of Texas, a
community which unabashedly loves Wagner.
In The Secret Path of Destiny, a young, disabled, German-American girl, named Isolde, and her destitute mother reach out for a lifeline being offered by a widower in the German town of Fredericksburg, Texas in 1865. The two travel from New York City into the heart of Comancheria, the homeland of the Comanche just as war is brewing with Native Americans. Because the Germans made a separate peace treaty with the Comanche, Fredericksburg is an oasis of peace in a turbulent landscape of war.
In a series of strange twists, life becomes incomprehensible for Isolde. First, she is befriended by a Comanche Indian whose peaceful village borders Fredericksburg. Their friendship grows, but he leaves to become a warrior with a different Comanche band at war with the white soldiers. Then her new community begins comparing her to an adulterous fictional character in a new Wagnerian opera called Tristan and Isolde, and some of her new German classmates even ridicule her disability.
But in the worst twist of fate, her mother's new employer becomes her stepfather, and Isolde realizes he's a calculating man, not to be trusted. It's not the Comanche Isolde comes to fear, but her stepfather's growing obsession with her; she's forced to make a life-changing decision to escape. Desperate, Isolde seeks refuge with her Comanche friend's warring band; however, her wicked stepfather refuses to let her go, and he pursues her across Texas, turning her life upside down.
After nearly dying in the conflict, Isolde is later kidnapped for revenge and faces a terrifying situation that has rapidly spun out of control. Yet in the midst of her trouble, Isolde's faith sustains her, and she unexpectedly finds the love that has always eluded her. Eventually, Isolde accepts the difficult circumstances of her life, realizing a person's destiny is often hidden from view because the path can be so rocky.
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