The Summoning God: Book II of the Anasazi Mysteries Hardcover – Jul 21 2000
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Book two in the Anasazi Mysteries series, The Summoning God is the sequel to The Visitant, in which archaeologist-authors Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear introduced readers to murder, mayhem, and the myriad details of life in a 13th-century Native American pueblo. In both novels, the narrative arcs between the present and the past, drawing aside the seemingly thin veil of time that separates them. Here, as archaeologists Dusty Stewart and Maureen Cole sift through an ancient Anasazi kiva, attempting to understand the circumstances that could have led to the presence of 33 charred children's bodies in the ceremonial chamber, we also see the members of the pueblo as they move toward the terrible destruction so carefully unearthed by Stewart and Cole. This narrative device isn't revolutionary, but it is clever: the demands of classic mystery plotting (we have a corpse, but who committed the crime?) are fulfilled, while the reader lives simultaneously in the worlds of evidence creation and deduction.
The Anasazi characters will be familiar to readers of The Visitant: warriors Browser and Catkin, holy men Springbank and Stone Ghost, and the witch Two Hearts continue to move silently through the sand and sagebrush, circling through a world marked by warring religions and vanishing resources. When Browser and Catkin find a mutilated old woman surrounded by the skulls of her clan, they must summon all their courage to combat what surely must be witchcraft--or is it? Although the narrative founders at times in a sea of murkily presented myth, the characters are vibrantly drawn (though to watch an Anasazi holy man conduct an autopsy in a manner that would do Kay Scarpetta proud is one of several discordant anachronisms).
The Summoning God, like its predecessor, renders the lives and habits of the Anasazi in compelling detail: we learn that they used blazing star petals for perfume and that their ceremonial purification rites included cornmeal and ground seashells. Though the tenacity with which the authors seek to hammer home a situational equivalency between modern life and the 13th century is sometimes painfully heavy-handed, the evocation of daily life never is. Readers might wish to acknowledge that overutilization of resources, a thirst for territory, and a propensity toward holy wars are indeed threads that bind us to the Anasazi--then ignore the lectures and settle into the story. --Kelly Flynn
From Publishers Weekly
This memorable novel of the vanished Anasazi, the second in the series (following The Visitant), provides sober ecological lessons for our own civilization. The Gears, who are also collaborators on the First North Americans series, tell the brutal story of one 13th-century tribe, the Katsinas' People, as they tumble down the path that leads to the sudden disappearance of the Anasazi. In parallel, the authors also tell the tale of a team of contemporary archeologists and anthropologists excavating the ancient site that bears witness to the Anasazi tragedy. The earlier-set narrative follows the fortunes of the Katsinas' People, led by Matron Flame Carrier and War Chief Browser. The tribe is already reeling from the effects of enemy attacks and attrition on the many small pueblos that dot northwestern New Mexico. While the external threat is bad enough, Flame Carrier and Browser must also contend with a serial murderer within the tribe. In the present, archeologist Dusty Stewart and anthropologist Maureen Cole each have their own intimate links to this past. As they excavate, those links and the fate of the puebloans become clearer. Their new novel is not for the squeamish, but the Gears offer unusual insight into Anasazi culture and history, while in an afterword, they suggest that it may already be too late for us to escape a fate similar to that of the Anasazi. An extensive bibliography bolsters their argument. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Repetitious descriptions deaden the writing, making it flat and formulaic. No less than three times, Catkin's black braid is described as a "glistening serpent lying across her back." Too often, moonlight "gilds" or "sheaths" her "upturned nose," "beautiful oval face," and lots of others things. I lost track of how many times yellow cottonwood leaves glinted or glimmered in the autumn sun or swirled somewhere (down paths, on the river, over the kiva edge, etc.) We are reminded ad nauseum of the glints in Dusty's blond beard and hair, of the chin-length black bangs plastered to Browser's face by sweat, of his knee-length war shirt whipping against brush or bushes. Concerning Elder Stone Ghost, "Thin white hair blew around his face as he looked up at Browser." A mere three lines later we read, "Thin white hair blew around [Browser's] uncle's wrinkled face. Sloppy! Where was the editor when the authors needed him/her?
Gestures are recycled until they become tedious. People tuck stray hairs behind their ears or under their hats again and again. Lots of brows draw together lots of times. There is much cupping of coffee cups, sipping of coffee, gripping of war clubs in hard fists, and clasping of capes. The result is unintentionally comic and Chaplin-esque. These characters come across more like marionettes than full-blooded people.
The problems are not merely stylistic.Read more ›
Twenty-first century archeologist Dusty Stewart and physical anthropologist Maureen Cole explore the untouched Pueblo Animos. They discover a massacre of at least forty children under the age of six, the skinning of females, and some evidence of cannibalism. The empathic Dusty feels the past horrors that have engulfed this sight.
In 1263, enemies attack the village. Browser, war chief of the Katsina, desperately wants to save his people, but wonders if witches are involved. As the murderers become bolder, Browser realizes that victory today only delays the inevitable decimation of his people.
Maureen concludes that the evil of the past is influencing Dusty. She steps outside the comfort of science to seek help from a local expert, a shaman. As past and present meet, Maureen and Dusty will be freed from the chains that bind them.
Chapters fluidly alternate between the past and the present, but the Gears manage to maintain a sense of continuity in the story line. That enables THE SUMMONING GOD to turn into a fascinating reading experience. The everyday details of the Anasazi culture seem genuine and add to the overall historical subplot. The relationship between Dusty and Maureen is an intriguing blend of distrust, unwanted attraction, and passion (more often with the sight than with each other). Though not easily categorized, fans that want something different will fully relish this tale.
Most recent customer reviews
The anasazi series by the Gears is fantastic! History comes alive, and I like the parallels written into the modern day story as well! Well done!Published on May 23 2002
This second book in the Ansazi mystery series is as thrlling and exciting as The Visitant. I for one happen to love the mix of old and new story lines that thread through the... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2000 by Shirley Schwartz
Simply put I was disappointed......when I finished the book that is! As always the Gears have kept me captive - I hated to see the book end and lament that I have about a year... Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2000 by Teacher
I am a big fan of the "Gears". Having read all their books, I really was looking forward to a series. I have not been disappointed. Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2000