People of the Thunder

Written by Kathleen O'Neal Gear W. Michael Gear
Review by Gerald T. Burke

It’s about 1300 CE in what today is Mississippi and Alabama. The dominant Sky Hand people have quickly risen to power under the leadership of the skilled but nefarious warrior Smoke Shield, the soon-to-be chief. He has aligned himself with the dark Red Power and is planning even more ambitious conquests. Meanwhile, Old White, Trader, and Two Pedals journey to Split Sky City for a rendezvous with fate. As the story unravels, their lives are revealed as a history of inevitable convergence leading to a conflict that they cannot escape. At the center of this narrowing vortex is Two Pedals, the mystic who is known as a Contrary. It is she who has sought out Old White and Trader to draw them to their destiny and to resolve their haunted pasts.

The Gears have crafted another impressive narrative of pre-European North America. The novel is rich in historical detail combined with elements of political machination, spiritual intervention, and gripping adventure. The protagonists are well-drawn characters that animate the history of the period. Readers should first explore the companion novel, People of the Weeping Eye, where the Gears introduce and create a context for the action of this novel. Still, read alone, this is a fascinating story of a moment in North American history that is certain to enlighten and entertain.