March 04, 2014

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

Maybe it's just because I like owls, but I actually really enjoyed this book in The First North American series.  While it did reference previous books, it gave enough background that it isn't necessary to read it in order, this book can be a stand alone.

Mud Puppy, later known as Salamander, has always been a strange child.  He prefers to be at one with nature rather than achieve any sort of prestige.  So when he is thrust into a leadership role after his brother and uncle die he knows he must tread carefully.  He has enemies on all sides, and even his wives don't want to see him succeed.  He is also caught between two power beings who want to use them for their own ends.  Salamander's life is no longer his own.

Salamander has the quickest growth of any character that I've seen.  He's smart, thoughtful, and tries to do what is best for the community rather than himself.  Which makes him special, as most people think of their own personal gain.  Unfortunately it also makes him a bit unbelievable.  People are naturally selfish and to be so pure in his intentions, while possible, just doesn't seem that likely.  His three wives are all a strange bunch too.  They don't particularly like him but then again they all have their own agendas.  I actually found them to be very believable as they all had something they wanted out of life and would do anything to achieve.  Then there are the "bad" guys, they too are just people who want a little bit of power and to be in a leadership position.

While this book covered over a year it didn't really seem like it had that big of a span.   It was telling the story of Salamander's life and it meandered through it.  But not at so slow of pace that it wasn't interesting.  You genuinely wanted to know what was going to happen and how he was going to get himself out of the fix he was in.  Although, truthfully, I was a bit disappointed by the ending.  There was a lot more about the people's actual culture in this book too, from how they wore their clothing to what they were eating.  There usually is a little detail in the other books, but not to the extent that this one had.  I appreciated learning a little more about how Salamander's people lived.

As I've said before, I think these books get better as they go along.  I'm almost disappointed that I'm nearing the end of the series.

People of the Owl
Copyright 2003
598 pages

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