Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Dael and the Painted People

Dael and the Painted People
By: Allan Richard Shickman
Published by: Earthshaker Books; Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9790357-6-0
Price: $9.95
Ages: Teens and young adults
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

     Synopsis: Is it true what some people say, that you can never go home again?  In this third book of the Zan-Gah prehistoric young adult series, Dael has decided to leave his people, the Ba-Coro tribe.  In the first book, Zan-Gah goes to find his twin brother Dael, who had been captured by the Wasp People and then sold to the Noi tribe.  In the second book, the two brothers lead the Ba-Coro people to the Beautiful Country where the Wasp People had formerly lived but died out in a plague.  However, haunted by his abuse at the hands of the Wasp and Noi people and the deaths of his wife Lissa-Na and their child, Dael has become very violent and unpredictable.  After the Ba-Coro tribe almost divides between the followers of Dael and the followers of Zan-Gah, Dael goes to dwell with the Painted People whom they had met on their trek to the Beautiful Country.
     He asks a young mute girl named Sparrow to accompany him, almost like a servant, and his pet wolves, Dara and Nata which he had given to two of his followers, also come running after them.  The painted people, who call themselves “the children of the earth,” live in the land of red rocks and color their skin with crimson dye from the soil.  Their council of elders is headed by a woman named Mlaka.  Dael makes friends with a man named Koli, but Mlaka’s brother, Schnur, is the tribe’s shaman, and he becomes Dael’s enemy.  Dael had learned some medicine from Lissa-Na and helps cure some of the painted people.  Also, Dael has dreams and “fits” which Schnur believes are visits to the spirit world over which he thinks that he himself should have control.  And Dael is liked by the crows who dwell nearby, but the shaman interprets this as an evil omen too.  Slowly, Dael’s inner wounds begin to heal, but Schnur considers him a rival and even tries to kill him.  Will Dael choose to remain with the painted people or return home?  And if he wants to go home, will he survive the shaman’s wrath to make it?

     Overall thoughts:     Like its predecessors, Dael and the Painted People is a well-crafted story with easy-to-follow action and the right amount of suspense to keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.  Parents may want to know that after Dael and Sparrow left the Ba-Coro, the statement is made, “That night, under the doubtful orb, on a soft and yielding place encircled by thorny growth, Sparrow conceived a child—while the two wolves wailed at the shadowy lantern.”  However, no more detail than that is given, and the two later marry according to the tradition of the painted people.  Also, Dael eats some special mushrooms which Lissa-Na had shown him and they seem to bring him into an ecstatic, almost hallucinogenic, state, but he eventually quits using them, and they cause some serious problems for Schnur when he finds out about them.  There is a bit more mysticism in this book than in the other two, which some people may not care for, but generally it is an interesting and readable tale set in prehistoric times.

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