BROTHER WIND by Sue Harrison


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Harrison's final entry in a prehistory trilogy set in the Aleutian Islands (My Sister the Moon, 1992, etc.) provides no more and no less than its predecessors, which means it is a standout, but only in the context of a genre never known for fine writing. In 7038 B.C., expert carver Kiin -- the imperiled Pauline character from My Sister the Moon -- is returned to the Walrus People after sinister shaman wannabe Raven kills her husband. She must leave behind Samiq, her dead husband's brother and her true love, who is the father of her twin sons. Meanwhile, Kukutux has also suffered the loss of her husband, who died on a whale-hunting expedition, leaving her with their son, an ulaq (hillside dwelling), and just enough food to survive the winter. Her only hope is that another hunter will take her as his wife. The adventuresome story of Kiin and the more emotional journey of Kukutux wind around with so many twists and turns that they sometimes grow hard to follow. The fun lies in the parallels -- none of them forced -- between these early days and our own, like a general disdain for the unsanitary Ugyuun people, whom Kiin recognizes when she meets them because ""each woman had the snarled and dirty hair of the Ugyuun."" The language and dialogue sometimes verge on me-Tarzan-you-Jane campiness: A trader proposes to Kukutux by offering her a necklace and stating, ""I do not always travel...I have a good lodge. I need a wife."" But that's part of the fun, too. Harrison provides a glossary of Native American words that certainly comes in handy. On the other hand, it's not clear why certain names have already been translated in the text (e.g., ""Owl"" and ""Spotted Egg"") while others have not (""Waxtal""). A cross between the Flintstones and Dynasty that somehow manages to work on its own level.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1994
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Morrow