March 02, 2014

People of the Masks by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

I feel that this tenth book of The First North Americans series is actually one of the better ones.   And, like most of the books in the series, you don't even have to read it in order, it can be a stand-alone.

Rumbler was born a power child. Which makes him very special. So special, in fact, that his entire village is slaughtered so he can be obtained. But when he arrives at his captors, they accuse him of terrible things and sentence him to death. Only two people want to see him live, one a young girl named Wren who has already seen too much death. She frees him, and together they escape, but they have numerous warriors after them, and no where safe to run.

Wren is the best character in this book. She is brave, knows the difference between right and wrong, and she is selfless. Pretty good for someone who hasn't even made it into her teens yet. Rumbler, despite being a main character, is not nearly as well developed. He serves more as a prop for people to fight over and Wren to take care of. However, his grandparents are interesting at least. I enjoyed their squabbles and the way they put aside their animosity to try to rescue him. And the there are the bad guys. I often wonder in these books why so many of them have to be absolutely psycho and erratic in their actions. Surely there are some smart, sane bad guys out there they could use. But it doesn't really appear that happens too much in this series. Jumping Badger is no different, he is completely out of his mind and it's a wonder he is able to lead at all.

There is a lot of death in this book. It seems to be a theme actually. But the main theme of this book is about the chase. You have Wren and Rumbler fleeing, and everyone pursuing them whether it's for good or bad intentions. But the chase never got boring. The pace moved quick enough that you were just anxiously waiting to see what would happen to them and where the final showdown would be. And let's face it, you wanted to know what the madman Jumping Badger would do. As a side story, there is a little bit of rekindling love between divorced people, but it was definitely a secondary plot to the book. Although I think I actually liked that part of the book more than the main, it's was refreshing to see people overcoming their problems.

This series is massive, and the writing styles definitely seem to differ between books. But I do think they are improving as the series goes on.

People of the Masks
Copyright 1998
548 pages

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