The first of a new series by this pair of writer/archaeologists (People of Thunder, 2009, etc.) documents the atrocities committed by Hernando de Soto and his army during the conquest of Florida.
Their slave teaches trader Black Shell of the Chicaza that the pale, bearded Kristianos have no respect for indigenous peoples’ moral codes, spiritual beliefs, traditions or diplomatic efforts. But that understanding comes too late for the local tribes, who can’t compete with the Kristianos’ superior weaponry and face death or slavery unless they submit and convert to Christianity. Anointed by the god Horned Serpent to act against the invaders, Black Shell and his wife, the fierce and canny Pearl Hand, must convince all the tribes to join together and shift from open warfare to guerrilla tactics. The Gears provide rich and fascinating detail about the Native Americans of Florida. However, while the backdrop is unique, the basic plot outline is not. Pagans face hopeless odds against invading white Christians, all the while spurred on by their gods, who face oblivion when the number of their worshippers diminishes—it’s familiar stuff, and from the opening pages of volume one, the series’ ending is tragically inevitable.
Some readers may appreciate the journey; others may prefer not to travel when the destination is so obvious.