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on January 13, 2009
WOMAN OF A THOUSAND SECRETS is a saga of one woman's journey in the New World, long before the Conquistadors' time.

Tonina, delivered to Pearl Island as a baby by dolphin spirits, considers Pearl Island her home, though she has always been an outsider. As much as she wishes she could fit in with the Islanders, there has always been something different about her, and the time has come for her to leave Pearl Island and find her own people.

Tonina's adoptive grandparents, Guama and Huracan, devise a scheme to convince Tonina to leave the island. They tell her that Huracan has an awful sickness that can only be cured by a mysterious red flower with magical healing properties. Immediately, Tonina sees it as her duty to find this red flower and bring it back to Pearl Island, curing Huracan, a man who has loved her all her life and given her a home.

While her journey is perilous and Tonina encounters villains and treachery along her way, she also finds friends and companions that she grows to love. From Prince Balám, an embittered ballplayer who has lost everything in life, to One-Eye, an unscrupulous dwarf who ends up falling a little bit in love with the naïve and pure Tonina, every character is memorable and exceptionally developed.

Perhaps most significantly, she meets Kaan, a Mayan ballplayer who is a hero of the games, regarded more highly than a king or holy man. Since Tonina and Kaan first laid eyes on each other, there has been a strange bond between the two. Struggle as they might to fight their feelings for each other, their futures are inexplicably intertwined. Both must fulfill a quest that has been thrust upon them - Tonina to find the ever-elusive red healing flower, and Kaan, to complete a pilgrimage to Teotihuacan to pray for his wife's soul.

Balám proves to be an unworthy adversary for the ever noble Kaan and Tonina, and occasionally the twists and turns in plot bog down the pace of the story as opposed to enhancing the mystery and suspense. However, overall WOMAN OF A THOUSAND SECRETS is a tale of honor worth reading.

In a superstitious world where destiny is determined by the gods and any bad luck is evidence that the gods are unhappy, the Mayans spend the majority of their time appeasing the gods, to ensure a peaceful afterlife. Barbara Wood crafts an extravagant world of love and deceit, mixing history and fantasy to create a story of the same epic proportions as LORD OF THE RINGS.

Reviewed by: Amber Gibson
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on September 2, 2012
OK, I may be slightly biased after spending a year living amoung the Mayan people of Belize and visiting the ruins of many of the ancient Mayan cities that provide the setting for this story, but I LOVED this book. The characters were three dimentional and involving and I especially loved the strength of the female characters. It was so nice to read about a couple that stood together, in good and bad times, and used their strengths as a team to accomplish their goal. Barbara Wood has written an engaging story that is not only entertaining but also brings to the table explorations of beauty, strength, honor and identity. I am looking forward to reading more of her offerings!
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on August 20, 2010
I enjoy her work, having read three other novels of hers, two of them twice. A romantic historical novel, more so than the other books I've read of hers - The Dreaming, Green city in the Sun (both have read twice and would give more than the five star rating) and the Prophetess - all three being quick paced and historical, entertaining.
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