People of the Raven

by Michael Gear

Publishers Weekly : The Gears' 12th entry (after 2003's People of the Owl) in their richly imagined series of novels about the peoples who populated North America in the distant past follows a familiar pattern. Using their archeological backgrounds and talent for research, they have incorporated recent evidence that "there were Caucasoids-traditionally described as light-skinned people-in North America between 9,000 and 11,000 years ago" into this tale of rival cultures in the Pacific Northwest at a time of momentous change. The dominant North Wind People and the various villages of the Raven People are increasingly intermixed, but also increasingly at odds. The leaders-warriors, matrons, healers, holy men and elders-of both groups face tremendous pressures and decisions as dwindling resources and increased competition drive them toward war. There's nothing primitive about the powerful mix of intrigue and ambition, statesmanship and strategizing, betrayal and self-sacrifice that the principals demonstrate. One can quibble with the Gears' tendency to use capitalization in odd ways and to describe two major female characters in physical terms geared to modern tastes. Overall, however, they succeed in blending a great deal of information about how these hunter-gatherers lived (food, lodging, weapons, etc.) together with the universal search for love, power and wisdom. It's a combination that will surely satisfy readers addicted to the series.

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