People of the Song Trail

Written by Kathleen O'Neal Gear W. Michael Gear
Review by Justin M. Lindsay

The People recall with horror the arrival several years ago of the Wobee, the raiders with their large ships who departed having kidnapped several of their youth. Those old wounds are ripped open once again upon seeing those same ships on their shores one morning while out seal hunting. These Wobee – Icelandic Norsemen – have come to settle and trade. At least, most of them have. Others have come to take Skraeling slaves and claim land for their own, or for still darker reasons.

Worlds collide and unravel as deadly confusion ensues and even deadlier truths are revealed. Can the Spirit Power of the Kutsitualit prevail against the magic of the Norse Seidur seers? The fate of the People and of the throne of England itself – not to mention the lives of all those on these frigid shores – are at stake. Can these two peoples find common ground, if only in the form of a common enemy?

As archeologists, Michael and Kathleen Gear have rare and deep insights into the peoples who inhabited North America prior to contact with Europeans. Capitalizing on recent findings proving Viking landings in modern-day Canada, they present in People of the Songtrail how those first meetings might have played out. The characters are alive and well-written, with several points of view people from both sides of the Atlantic. The authors are able to infuse depth into both cultures. This novel does include a large dose of fantasy (magical swords, channeled lightning, lethal sorcery, etc.). That, combined with the fact that this isn’t true first contact (that happened several years earlier in this narrative), left me somewhat disappointed. The ending is abrupt and leaves several threads loose, which is no doubt left for subsequent books to resolve. But the writing and storytelling are well-crafted.