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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly told, 10 Jan 2013
This review is from: Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I was gifted a copy of this eBook in return for a review.

I studied this area of American history in school and while it was quite a number of years ago now it still made me eager to read this book. I was not let down in the slightest. This was the perfect book to finish off last year with and one of the best books I had the pleasure of reviewing in 2012.

The storytelling structure of the book appealed to my own nature and each different timeline being talked about felt real and fresh. I could imagine every little detail described yet nothing felt over described or dragged out. The balance of narrative and pacing was spot on and over the few days that I read this book I kept finding myself thinking about the characters and being eager to sit back down and delve into their journeys. Really can't recommend the book highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storykeeper - Nine-Rivers Valley, 1 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Storykeeper (Paperback)
This book was recommended by a friend, and I give it the full five star treatment. "The Storykeeper" is a story within a story within a story, passed on from one Storykeeper to another and then on to a Listener who, in his turn, becomes the third Storykeeper. Narrated variously by Taninto the solitary one, Manaha/Nanza, the young child he found and reared after her parents were brutally massacred, and Ichisi, the solitary Listener who, at the very end of the story, becomes in his turn the Storykeeper with the important responsibility of handing down these stories to subsequent generations. First Taninto, then Manaha/Nanza, relates the story of a tragic period in American history around the time of a Spanish invasion of the lands west of the Mississippi in 1541 and led by one Hernando de Soto on a relentless quest for gold. The Spanish left behind them a heritage of fear-driven Christianity, an array of deadly diseases such as smallpox (known locally as the Black Sleep), war and cruelty. Beautifully written, this book alternates between gentle, almost lyrical descriptions of the countryside and nature, and by gut-wrenching accounts of cruelty, brutality and hatred by both the Spanish invaders and by the local inhabitants. The stories are skilfully interwoven by the author and the impression I was left with, at the end of the book, was one of satisfaction at the closing of the storykeeping circles but also one of sadness - that time and time again, throughout history, humanity continues to cause such pain, devastation and destruction both to itself and to the world we live in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the most beautiful book - read it & love it, 1 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Storykeeper (Nine Rivers Valley) - Daniel A Smith

"Not blood of these people, Manaha had lived with them as a captive, servant, wife and now a widow. One of the last tribes of survivors from the scattered ancient nations of the nine rivers, they called themselves simply Hachia. Their great-great grandfathers were people of the rivers, powerful and strong until the strangers came out of the east."

Manaha has a dream and in the dream the brown bear says "You are an old woman, and you have much wisdom. Give your stories to the ones who have not heard. Become the storyteller your people need."

Because of the opposition she gets from Ta-kawa, it's decided that she may tell her stories from her own fire and outside of the village.

And so she embarks on telling stories to those that come and gather just outside of her sight. Every night she knows that she's joined by some of the children and she tells how the Son of the Sun came from the East, how they brought with them horses, how they enslaved the people they met on their way, how the diseases that came with them wiped out villages.

This was truly one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. Sometimes you just know that part of the author's soul has crept into a story. Often that's if it's an autobiography, but in this case, its not yet Daniel Smith has given some of his soul in telling the story of how three hundred and fifty Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1541 and how in the next year and half, they managed to change the lives and villages in Eastern Arkansas.

I know that if we haven't tried something or read something then how can we know that our lives would be less without the experience, but believe me, life will just not be that much richer or more beautiful without having read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling tale of a lost people, 18 Nov 2012
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Ian Barker (Bolton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of how the lives of the native Americans of the Nine Rivers valley were changed by the arrival of the Spanish. It's told in three concurrent threads the first being that of an old woman, the last of her people, living under sufferance with another tribe. She keeps alive the memory of her own people by the oral tradition of story telling.

By means of these stories we get the second thread, the woman's life as a young girl with her adopted grandfather. The third thread, a story within a story, is the grandfather's youth.

These lines are skilfully intertwined but it's always the grandfather's thread that is the most compelling. He has encountered first hand the Conquistadors with their superior weapons - the crossbow and the arquebus - and strange powerful beasts called horses.

The book is rather marred by technical errors. There are quite a lot of typos and the author has an annoying habit of throwing in unnecessary commas which makes for a clunky read in parts. This latter problem is particularly apparent in the early stages and I guess may cause many readers to give up on the Kindle sample. That's a shame as the story itself with its look at the change wrought by a clash of tribal tradition with an alien race is well worth reading.

Note: Some of the above issues have been corrected in a later edition.
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