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People of the Owl: A Novel of Prehistoric North America [Hardcover]

Kathleen O'Neal Gear , W. Michael Gear
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1 2003 North America's Forgotten Past (Book 11)
Michael and Kathleen Gear, bestselling authors and award winning archaeologists are famous for writing novels about prehistoric America that are fast-paced, steeped in cultural detail, and smart. Here, in their most ambitious work to date, they combine their distinctive trademark of high action with a rich psychological drama.

Four thousand years ago, in what centuries later will be the southern part of the United States, a boy is thrust into manhood long before he's ready. Young Salamander would much rather catch crickets and watch blue herons fish than dabble in the politics of his clan. But when his heroic brother is killed, Salamander becomes the leader of America's first city. He inherits his brother's two wives, who despise him, and is forced to marry his mortal enemy's daughter to forge an alliance for the trade goods his people desperately need.

But he's only fifteen winters old! Technically he's not even a man, and most people consider him to be the village idiot! Worse, each of his wives has secretly been ordered by her clan to kill him.

Cast adrift in a stark wilderness of political intrigue where assassins are everywhere, young Salamander has no choice but to become a man-and quickly. For his own greatest enemies are closing in, intent upon destroying him and his clan and taking over Sun Town for themselves.
It would all be a simple matter if he could just run away, but he can't. He has three problems: Their names are Night Rain, Pinedrop and Anhinga. His wives. Despite what their clans have ordered them to do he loves them. And he loves the children they have given him. As the end draws close, he realized he has only one duty he cannot shirk-to protect his family. Salamander will do it. No matter the cost in blood.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in prehistoric northeastern Louisiana, this richly imagined 11th entry in the Gears' First North Americans series follows a juvenile warrior as he struggles to mature in time to save his Clan from annihilation. Free-spirited, vision-seeing 15-year-old Mud Puppy has no interest in power, but when his much-admired older brother, White Bird, is struck by lightning and killed (an event that Mud Puppy foresaw), he is next in line to be the Speaker for the Owl Clan. Christened Salamander at an immediate initiation-to-manhood ceremony, he sets out to defend and honor his family, always aware of the warring spirits Masked Owl (good) and Many Colored Crow (evil) who guide his path. Uncertainty, clumsiness and a reputation as an idiot in the village are hurdles in Salamander's quest for greatness and power, as are the three fierce women he marries. Pine Drop, Night Rain and finally Anhinga are persuaded to betray him by relatives who have axes to grind with the Owl Clan. Skirting deadly assassins at every turn and handling his wives preoccupies Salamander, but he's smarter than anyone anticipated and triumphs in the story's political, witch-hunting conclusion. Propelled by the Gears' spry storytelling, this sturdy epic skillfully navigates the ancient swamplands of Louisiana, with their lapping brown waters, hanging vines and brooding skies.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the tradition of Jean Auel (Clan of the Cave Bear), the authors Gear offer another installment in their very popular First North Americans series, which takes readers on a richly detailed trip back to prehistoric times. The series began with People of the Wolf (1990), and now, in the latest volume, the Gears reconstruct life as led by the aboriginal inhabitants of Poverty Point in what is now Louisiana--and which was, as a matter of interesting fact, North America's first true city, founded 12 centuries before the birth of Christ. This settlement served as the center of a vast trading empire in the Mississippi Valley. The main character here is the warrior and shaman called Salamander, whose life and exploits we follow through every twist and turn. (Any reader who imagines that violence was not an everyday part of existence back then will soon realize the folly of such an idea.) The major calling card of these sprawling prehistoric epics is not to cozy up to characters contemporary readers can identify with but to provide fascinating information on the customs of past times. The Gears' novels are, indeed, lessons in life past, and all the facts they marshal are well integrated into a smoothly flowing story line. Expect considerable demand. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like the series, you'll like this book Nov. 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The "People of the xxxxx" series is an enjoyable one.
Yes, it has the ancients using modern language - but that means you don't get caught up in trying to understand what they mean.
Yes, it has some recurring character types, including the Dreamers, the seekers-after-Power, the village elders, and the sexually-adventurous - but it can be interesting to see how the struggles play themselves out differently in the different stories.
Yes, there can be some minor characters that it is difficult to keep straight (perhaps an index of characters?) - it's not a big deal.
And yes, there's a 'mystery' included in each one - and I've enjoyed following the stories.
As I said at the beginning, if you like the series, you'll enjoy this one.
If you're expecting a scholarly analysis, don't look for it in novels.
If you're looking for 'the best writing ever', it's unlikely to be in a series that produces, on average, a book a year.
So settle back and enjoy the read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed ! July 31 2003
Format:Hardcover
Remembering when the newspapers ran a story on Poverty Point, identifying it as a large and meaningful site, in 1955, I was excited to find something written about such a mysterious place. Something a layperson could understand and enjoy. This story, while touching, failed, in my opinion, to include so much of the true wonder of Poverty Point. The lapidarian skills, the questions about the use of the stones we now call plummets, were ignored, so, I was disappointed. Chances are I may have enjoyed it had it been written about another site, which, with no more about Poverty Point actually included, it could have been.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read Dec 6 2003
Format:Hardcover
If you are looking for a book on facts, then don't pick this up -- the Gears write hoping to understand what life may have been like for prehistoric Americans, based on what we do know about the various cultures but this book isn't tedious fact after fact. It is, of course, a historical fiction book and a wonderful one at that. If you enjoyed the others in the series, then you are definitely going to enjoy this one as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great authors - Great Book June 16 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the best of the Gear books. It opened up a whole new culture of North America for me that I wasn't aware existed. This book is about a culture that may be to North America what Mesopotamia was to the Middle East. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in North American cultures.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Thin Soup March 3 2004
Format:Hardcover
This novel is like a good, thick stew that has had so much water added to it that it is tasteless and unappetizing. The Prologue is totally usless. It may, just may, have enough material for a good short story. A young, inept boy becomes Superman in one year or so. Why do publishers print stuff like this?
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5.0 out of 5 stars People of the Owl June 21 2003
Format:Hardcover
As always I was not dissapontd.They write about people who are real.I have read the series once a year (icluding the Anazi mysties). I enjoy the deepth of story and charcters.I eagerly await the next one. Thank you for giving me a place to go when the world is crazy.
Your Most Devoted Fan
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