PEOPLE OF THE MASKS by W. Michael Gear


Email this review


Tenth historical epic in the First North Americans Series (People of the Mist, 1998, etc.) by archaeologists Gear and Gear, this time focusing on pre-Colombian peoples living in what’s now New York and Ontario. Framing the story is the modern-day discovery of ceramics and human remains identified by one overweening archaeologist as Iroquoian—while an equally strong-minded female archaeologist calls them Algongkian, or Princess Point. Anyway, they date somewhere in the range of a.d. 500 to 1000. The novel proper tells of elderly tribal shaman Silver Sparrow’s failure to Dream and foresee a great raid by the Walksalong Villagers on Turtle Nation’s Paint Rock Village to kidnap the nine-year-old dwarf child Rumbler, known also as False Face Child—a very great Dreamer who can draw prophetic Power down from the skies and forecast major events. The murderous Jumping Badger leads the raid, kills the boy’s mother, burns Paint Rock Village to ashes, and carries the prophet child off to Wallksalong Village, which is part of the Bear Nation. The Bear Nation cultivates crops, lives in fortified villages of long-houses, and pushes against Turtle Nation, forcing them either to move or else blend their small-house villages with Bear-Turtle villages. When Jumping Badger’s warriors begin mysteriously dying, Rumbler, his hands tied together, is condemned to die on winter-whipped Lost Hill. Wren, a Walksalong girl three years older than he, helps him to escape into icy forests. But when Jumping Badger at last captures Wren . . . . Flowing imagination, storytelling marvels. The Gears have a fine time drawing the various interclan rivalries and clashes of cultures. (Satellite tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-85857-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998


FictionPEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL by W. Michael Gear
by W. Michael Gear
FictionPEOPLE OF THE BLACK SUN by Kathleen O’Neal Gear
by Kathleen O’Neal Gear
FictionPEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE by W. Michael Gear
by W. Michael Gear