"Dear Sir, I finished your book and ABSOLUTELY loved it!! Yes, there was the violence you mentioned, but I am sure that is what the battles were like. I have to admit I needed a break before the battle. I was both scared and sad for the boys. I felt your book was an amazing explanation/description of why they 13 did what they did. The way you wrote the book made it easy for me to put myself at the scenes...as they happened. Thank you for writing an AMAZING story." (Angie Schmit-Croll—Ojibwe)
"The 13 takes place in the time before time, the time before white men came to Gichigami (Lake Superior), the time when Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) were at war with the Dakota (Sioux).
"In early spring, while men from a band of 90 Anishinaabe are hunting game, Dakota attack their camp. Many women, children, and old men are speared or axed to death, their scalps taken. Upon returning, the men decide they will find the evil ones and seek revenge—but now is not the time.
"Sixteen-year-old Keeshegkoni (Burning Fire) has other ideas. He assembles a war party of 12 of his young friends to follow him. Told by his brother Animikil that he is too young and inexperienced to be included, 14-year-old Aajim (Tells a Story) nevertheless takes off after the war party, determined to avenge the death of his friend Omiimii whose “lustrous black hair had been ripped from her forehead.”
"The trail leads Aajim on the path of 24 moccasin footprints, along animal trails, through rain and show, to a gathering of the Dakota tribe where he is witness to the fates of his older brother and friends.
"Told in the straightforward language of a young Native American boy, The 13 gives voice to the ceremonies of the tribe, the actions of the spirit guide, the imagery of the forest and the raven, and the prophesy of dream. There is power as well as music in simplicity that leaves readers to define the boundaries of honor, duty, respect, and love and to appreciate the burden of Aajim." (The Historical Novel Society)
"I truly enjoyed The 13. This is an incredible story about the quest honor in a period the author calls “a time before time”—a time before the arrival of the white man. It’s based on an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) story, a tribe inhabiting the Lake Superior region. The focus is on 13 teenagers who, defying their elders, sought to regain the honor of their band after their village was decimated by the (Dakota) Sioux The quest led them to a confrontation and eventual display of courage that earned them a revered place in the history of the tribe. The book, in addition, is a poignant coming-of-age tale as the youngest of the warriors tries to come to grips with the aftermath of the venture. The author brings their story to life with electric verisimilitude, giving us a fascinating insight into what life was like long before there were roads, houses and white people. It’s a great read and an exciting experience in time travel." (David Gustafson)
"A wonderfully written coming-of-age tale. I couldn't put it down and will recommend it to family and friends. As I read this fantastic story, I found myself hoping that it would eventually become a movie." (Joe Boyle)
"'The 13' is the perfectly crafted story of Ojibwe teen-age boys responding to a Dakota raid on their band while their fathers and elders are away hunting. In the absence of their elder influences, and like teens of any culture are prone to do, the boys set out to seek revenge on the Dakota through a collective froth of bravery. The story is founded in age-old questions, thus pulling readers back and forth between the battle about to play out on a long-ago landscape and the internal battles we all struggle to win when questioning "what is right?.
"Episodes of violence in "The 13" are swift and mute. They are not visceral for the sake of bloody gore, but are the sad clear truth of human against human. For the reader averse to bloodshed, the violence in this story can be tolerated because the depictions are not exploitative.
"The 13" is a book I want to touch over and again. I stroke the cover routinely, trying to absorb its quiet wisdom, its intimate relationship with nature and tribe. Robinson crafted this story with such precise details in language, native terminology, patterns of nature that one can truly feel transported to another time." (Diana Lubich Oleskow)
"This is a quite good story about 13 young Anishinaabe boys and their quest to regain the honor of their band after an attack by their Dakota enemies. I was happy to see Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language) and, to a lesser extent, the Dakota language, used in the story. I am Lakota myself and am slightly familiar with Anishinaabe language and culture, and overall the book was great. I don't personally see our people as violent or hurtful as portrayed in the story, but perhaps Anishinaabe people would disagree. In my experience, my people have the same desire for peace and living in harmony as the Anishinaabe do. That does not, though, in any way, pertain to the story, which I very much enjoyed." (Anon)
"Twelve boys seek revenge for an attack on their Anishinaabe camp. The 13th retells their story. Robinson’s story, based on a kernel of an idea from a Wisconsin folklorist, is an interesting adventure tale set among Native American tribes.
"The boys – and nearly all key characters are male – are engagingly written. It has the feel of a legend, almost as if it is a story within a story. The plot moves quickly but the storyteller’s experience is well described and provides a good amount of detail. I thought the use of certain Anishinaabe words in key places was a nice nod to the cultures reflected in the tale.
"It took me a few starts before I finally got to a point where I couldn’t put it down. The focus on small pieces of the cultures keeps the story interesting and doesn’t attempt to over describe the time period or interactions of different tribes beyond the horizon of the story itself." (David Whelan)