Blending Native American myth, archaeological detail, government conspiracy and a sci-fi flair, Baker covers a lot of ground, but does so with dexterity and grace.
Perhaps the only significant problem with the first in this planned series is its way of engaging on so many specific subject areas. The author populates this unique story with alien civilizations, 17th-century Ojibwe shamans, shady government agents and professional archaeologists. In doing so, Baker tries to tap numerous niche audiences. But his wide-ranging project seems to beg the following questions: Is a science-fiction fan going to want to read so much about Ojibwe tribal lore? Are readers interested in Native American culture going to want their indigenous histories served with a side of extraterrestrial life? Will archaeology buffs care about government cover-ups? Because Baker is a talented writer and an adept syncretist, the answer to these questions may well be yes; on the other hand, this could be a tough sell. Akiiwan begins in the 1600s, during which time a talented Native American shaman–Voice-in-the-Sky–is contacted by members of an alien race who are interested in living with the Ojibwe people and sharing with them their secrets and talents. Fast-forward to the modern day, when government agents hire skilled archaeologist Samantha Horner to learn more about Voice-in-the-Sky and the mysterious powers he may have possessed. But from the moment her excavation begins, strange occurrences–violent storms, unexpected attacks on crew members and baffling disappearances–suggest to Horner that something strange is afoot. Baker tells Horner’s tale with a skillful ease. His prose is elegant and precise and his descriptions–both of his characters and of the natural world–are beautiful and evocative. Though Baker sets for himself a difficult task in taking on so many odd storylines, he manages to establish among them a workable, if tenuous, balance.
A well-done book for a limited audience.