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People of the Thunder
First North Americans Series, volume 16 of 18

by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear

      People of the Thunder is a wonderfully imagined story of what might have been in the present-day Missouri-Mississippi River watershed basin. It begins in about 1300 AD.  War among the tribes is a probability, and guerilla tactics among the warriors is common. The Sky Hand people crushed and enslaved the Albaamaha people and built a high-walled capital, Split Sky City. Smoke Shield is the crafty leader of the Sky Hand, but will he lead them to victory over the other tribes, or condemn them to a lesser fate?

Old White, Trader, and a strange woman named Two Petals, who is the Contrary, are traveling the river to trade with the tribes, but have a destination in mind and plan to bring down the treacherous Smoke Shield.  What's a Contrary?  It seems that she is able to see the future, but her mind is a bit muddled.

People of the Thunder has a bit more shamanism than I like, but fans of W. Michael  and Kathleen O'Neal Gear would expect and look forward to a peek into the religious beliefs of the early American clans.  This series does move chronologically, but each novel also stands alone, so if you have read some of the series, but skipped others,  don't hesitate to read this one out of order.  It is a fast moving novel of intrigue among early American Indian nations.  You will recognize the names of some of them; and this might have really been what happened to these characters, who are compelling and easily visualized. The Gears write with a fluid style that held my  interest, making this a hard book to put down.

The Book

Forge Books (McMillan)
January 6, 2009
Hardbound (reviewed from the Advance Reading Copy)
0-7653-1439-8 / 978-0-7653-1439-0
Fiction / Historical 1300 AD in present day Missouri-Mississippi
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Beverly J. Rowe is's "Babes to Teens" columnist, covering topics related to reading ideas for the youth in the family.
© 2009