The Gears (People of the Thunder, 2009, etc.) deliver the latest novel in their First North Americans series, which began with 1990’s People of the Wolf.
Most of the books introduce a new Native American culture, location and time period, so a reader can pick up the latest installment while having little familiarity with the previous books. As with all the installments, the married co-authors bring their archeological expertise to bear on the story, this time setting the stage with a nonfiction introduction to the history of the Northern Iriquoian people. The story, set around the year 1400, is rich in cultural detail. Odion and Tutelo, young siblings in Yellowtail Village, are captured by warriors from the Mountain People. They, along with several other children, are handed over to a group led by an evil and mysterious witch-woman named Gannajero. Meanwhile, Yellowtail Village’s tough female war chief, Koracoo, carrying her legendary war club CorpseEye, and her deputy, Gonda—the mother and father of Odion and Tutelo—are on a dangerous quest, on the trail of the captured youngsters. Critics have often compared the Gears’ Native American historical fiction to author Jean M. Auel’s novels of prehistoric native European peoples, and those comparisons are not without merit; certainly, fans of Auel’s books will find much to like here. The Gears effectively detail the subtleties of tracking and showcase the native people’s spirituality and mysticism. Both longtime fans and newcomers will be satisfied.
Another fine entry in an ambitious, long-running series.