Cover Image: People of the Canyons

People of the Canyons

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Member Reviews

A magical talisman that supposedly will give ultimate power to the one who possesses it; an evil Ruler who will stop at nothing to attain it and a shaman who will do all he can to protect it. Whole villages are burned and destroyed in the ruler's quest. The aged healer, Tocho must stop the tyrant with the help of Maicoh, a bitter broken old witch and Tocho's adopted grand daughter is caught in-between and may hold the key to save her people.
This is an exciting look back into the culture and mythologies of the ancient people who lived in the canyons.
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This book is magic based and mostly concerned with evil, witches and the dead. The leader of the Straight Path nation is known as evil cannibal witch. He used terror, force and witchcraft to rule, but now is old, nearing death. He dispatches his daughter Blue Dove to find a wellpot claimed to hold his enemy Nightshade’s soul, hoping it will free him to travel to the afterlife. At the same time there is a battle with religion, the old and new, though that is more in the background of the story.

Blue Dove searches out Maicoh known to be a powerful witch killer, taker of souls. She finds a few elder healers, Tocho and Crane instead. Then an albino joins who claims to be Maicoh. Mixed in with these is a young orphan girl Tsilu, who wants to save her adopted grandfather Tocho as he is being marched back to the Flowing Waters Town, the center of the Straight Path nation. 

Most of the book leads up to the events when the party arrives in Flowing Waters Town. This is also where I think the book is the weakest. And the ending leaves things very primed for a follow-up book.

While reading this book some of the characters and history felt familiar. None of the summaries I read mentioned this book being a continuation of others, but one reviewer did mention it is a continuation from the book People of the River, which is book 4 in the series. It probably would help to read that book first, but it is not necessary. If you read it a long time ago like me, then you may want to refresh your memory of the story.

For readers new to the series of books, I’m not sure this is the place to start. But since it is mostly a standalone book you won’t be lost. I think there were some stronger books in the series. I always enjoy these books by the Gears. This book did not disappoint, but not my favorite either.
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I’ve read several books by these authors. All are well researched books. This was a complex story, told by two very different people. I enjoyed the story, at times I did have some trouble keeping everyone straight. 
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy
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People of the Canyons: A Novel of North America's Forgotten Past #26 by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear has vivid imagery of the landscapes and characters. I have read and enjoyed many books in this series. 
I will say this was not my favorite. The theme of the story is more about cruelty, witch hunters, and the dead 
The red canyon people believe each person has two souls. The Blessed Sun has been sending priests to convert the northern canyon people to an ancient faith, while the Canyon People in the south believe in and worship the old gods. This has caused strife and warring among the people. All of the people fear the bitter Maicoh who is able to transform and wield power and death
Grandfather is a powerful shaman healer in the OwlClaw village. When the OwlClaw village is destroyed because of the search for a powerful witch pot that holds the soul of Nightshade, young Tsilu is left with her grandfather's apprentice, Kwinsi. They travel together to try and find her grandfather who was taken by the rival warriors. 
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I have been a huge fan of the Gears for probably twenty years. People of the Canyons does not disappoint. This story is a continuation of the Nightshade story which began in People of the River. The Gears do an amazing job of bringing to life these ancient civilizations with amazing characters that you want to root for, or sometimes want to root against!
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The authors are professional Archaeologists and have carried their professions into their many books depicting life in bygone eras and places.  Their forte is the ease in which they bring characters used in their novels to life; speaking and acting as they might have done based on the author's knowledge of the time and place. The current book is set in the little-known Fremont culture that existed millennia ago in the American great southwest.
     A young girl is cast into the position of saving her people from falling into the hands of a despot using the area religious beliefs to keep control of the people. Bringing out the beliefs of those living in the area and in the prehistoric time depicted the authors bring to life a society growing from hunter gatherers to the evolution of living in towns and building cities.  Their beliefs include the view of inanimate objects containing spirits that control life and death and death involving a journey to a central place where they meet with those that predeceased them and a hierarchy of shamans that can both kill and bring life back to people.
      The shaman looking for consolidation of his power is seeking a pot that is reputed to contain the spirit of the most powerful witch that ever lived.  Once he has this artifact, he plans to use the witch to obtain control of the people.  Opposing him is Tocho, an elder who is aided by the daughter of the deceased rulers of the area.  She has the legal claim to take over as ruler due to her being the rightful heir to the position.
     The plot is aided by the discovery by the girl of terrifying truths about her parents.  At the same time the authors' professional work as archaeologists allow them to shape the actions and conversations of the characters in a manner that has a good possibility of being closer to the likelihood of being accurate.
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Thousands of years ago, in what is now the American Southwest, death is as real to the people of the canyons as life. Both are frightening and demanding, with powerful forces that must be assuaged. Thirteen-year-old Tsilu knows how to treat the dead, but nothing about her family, living or dead. Her adoptive grandfather, Tocho is a healer, a miracle worker, but an old man who needs help looking after the girl. When a powerful ruler’s fear of one more powerful than himself—the soul of a witch imprisoned in her own pot—stirs those who remember a better time, people of many nations begin a fateful search. Shaken the changes that follow, Tsilu is forced to make a decision that will not only determine her future, but that of everyone in the canyon. 
The author surrounds her characters with magnificent vistas and dresses them in fantastic costumes that reveal their natures, to create a setting that is wild, beautiful, and inconstant. People of the Book will be a treat for fantasy lovers and fans of the author.
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