DAWN LAND by Joseph Bruchac


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Bruchac's first novel--based on Native American legends, tall tales, and myths, and especially suitable as a YA--follows a young warrior on a vision quest into the unknown. The transformation of oral tribal lore into fiction can be metronomic at times, but more often Bruchac (the story collection Turtle Meat, 1992, etc.) finds an incantatory rhythm appropriate to this North American version of magical realism. Young Hunter lives in Only People Village after the last Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. Only People Village is one of 14 allied villages in The Dawn Land, and Young Hunter comes of age learning of the Great Ones who once lived in the sky and listening to Oldest Talker and Bear Talker, who predicts Young Hunter's future: "Now I see that you are going to have to walk a long way." So Young Hunter sets off, moving among the "powerful beings in the forest." Bruchac begins to lay on lore, stories, and names as Young Hunter learns to use the Long Thrower, a mystical weapon of peace, and lives in myth: "With the story in his mind, Young Hunter ran. He ran with the story." Finally, after many an interesting or tedious episode, Young Hunter reaches the new land and the People of the Long Lodges. He discovers, classically, that the other is not always the enemy, and returns with "too great a weapon to be used by people whose minds might not be straight." Yet another Joseph Campbell-like hero with a thousand faces, Young Hunter's prehistoric quest--by now almost a subgenre of modern letters--gives Bruchac a chance to patch together all sorts of Native American materials in an attempt, mostly successful, to re-create human life in America long before Europeans arrived.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55591-134-X
Page count: 318pp
Publisher: Fulcrum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993


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