For My People (Awacha Nay, Book 1)

Written by Heidi Ennis
Review by Joanna Urquhart

The tribal world of the Pacific Northwest in the years before the European invasion of North America forms the backdrop to For My People by Heidi Ennis, the first book in her Awacha Nay series.

The narrative focus in this first novel is on young Asku, the son of the chief of the Patisapatishama tribe; his experiences growing up and learning the ways of his people are skillfully juxtaposed throughout the book by a much, much earlier time: through a series of mystic visions, Asku is able to commune with the spirit of Saigwan, a long-dead chief from a period millennia earlier, during the last ice age, when the tribe contended massive prehistoric animals for survival. These visions help give Asku the inner balance he needs in order to cope with the complicated politics of his present day, in which he loves one young woman but is promised, for reasons of tribal peace and security, to another.

Ennis has done a good deal of anthropological research and supplies a glossary of terms and titles for readers confused by the immersion technique of her story proper, and that story is ultimately quite gripping and involving, the story of a world both alien and strangely familiar.

A very satisfying read.