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Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016

Book review: The perfect gifts for the readers on your list

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The holidays are upon us, and most of us are making our list, checking it twice, and trying to think of the perfect gift for those very special people in our lives. So this month, I am reviewing two very special book series that would make, I believe, the perfect gift for those readers on your list.

The first is a series of four books that will appeal to both the male and female reader. It is written by the Gears, Kathleen O'Neal and Michael, masters of the Native American novel, and is called The People of the Longhouse series.

These books combine compelling personal stories with the amazing history of one of the most highly sophisticated societies of all the Native American peoples, the Iroquois. The Gears are both archeologists specializing in prehistoric Native American cultures, and are extremely well versed in those societies. Each book begins with a nonfiction introduction laying out the research and archeological finds used to write that particular book.

In addition, you may recognize the Gears as the authors of a long series of books simply known as "The People Of," which covered Native American societies from 13,000 BC forward. This series, "The People of the Longhouse," takes place in about 1400 AD, but it is not the last of the Gear's books. They are currently in the process of writing a "First Contact" series depicting the travels of Hernando Desoto through America, and the result of those travels. This series is also quite excellent, if you care to look into that as well.

The first book in this series, "The People of the Longhouse," was published in 2010. The entire series is under the TOR Fiction book label by Tom Doherty Associates. In that first book, we are introduced to a group of young children from rival villages who are abducted by an evil woman who trades in human slavery. The parents of two of the children join with several others from surrounding rival communities to track down the abductors and bring the children home.

In the second book of the series, "The Dawn Country," published in 2011, some of the children have been rescued, but the parents join with even more relatives of lost children from the Mohawk and other enemy societies to rid themselves of a common evil, old Gannajero, the child slave trader.

The third of the series, "The Broken Land," finds many of the same characters from the first two books, now enemies again in a nation collapsing under disease and war. But one of the children, now grown, has a vision, and together with his parents and his friends is determined to do what it takes to save his people.

In the fourth and last book, the Gears bring to a culmination the legend of Dekanawida, Jigansaseh and Hiyawento, the great peacemakers of the Iroquois. But this is anything but a peaceful story, as the forces of evil spar with the forces of peace in a battle to save a civilization.

And along the way, we get a very clear picture of these remarkable people, their laws from which our own laws are patterned even today, their societies and their everyday lives. These books can be purchased together or separately from your local book seller or your favorite online book seller. The fourth book is not yet in paperback, but it might just be worth it for a Christmas gift to purchase these books in hardback.

The second series is specifically for the young reader on your list, and is appropriate for any child able to read a full-length novel.

This series, called the "Kane Chronicles," is written by Rick Riordan, author of a number of historical fiction books for young people including the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series, and is published by Disney/Hyperion. It is absolutely delightful, making Egyptology and ancient Egyptian history not only understandable, but unforgettable for the young reader. (The old crusty readers, as well.)

The first book of the series, "The Red Pyramid," was published in 2010. The Kane Chronicles is the story of a brother and sister left without parents as a result of two mysterious accidents, to be brought up by an even more mysterious uncle who appears suddenly from their past. In this first book, we meet all the main players, and watch as they fight the ancient gods of Egypt and try to figure out just what is happening.

The second book in the series, "The Throne of Fire," was published in 2012 and finds the Kane kids traveling the globe searching for the Book of Ra, which they are sure will help them answer questions about their parent's mysterious deaths, all the while pursued by those same pesky Egyptian gods.

The third book, "The Serpent's Shadow," was released just last month, and finds the Kane kids, who now know they are descended from Egyptian gods, saving the world and finding the answers they have been seeking.

This series can actually be purchased as a box set of hardcover books for about $28 just about anywhere. And while you are purchasing a set for the kids, why not go ahead and purchase a Kindle version for yourself? I promise you, these books will have you sitting on the edge of your chair, even though there is no adult content at all and, surprisingly, very little that could be called outright violence. I give both of these series 10 out of 10, and will probably read through both of them again in the near future!


Pat Ivey
Ivey is a former staff writer of the Courier News.
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