Thursday, August 15, 2013

Song of the River by Sue Harrison

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley/Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read: August 2, 2013

Eighty centuries ago, in the frozen land that is now Alaska, a clubfooted male child had been left to die, when a woman named K’os rescued him. Twenty years later and no longer a child, Chakliux occupies the revered role as his tribe’s storyteller. In the neighboring village of the Near River people, where Chakliux will attempt to make peace by wedding the shaman’s daughter, a double murder occurs that sends him on a harsh, enthralling journey in search of the truth about the tragic losses his people have suffered, and into the arms of a woman he was never meant to love.

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Though Sue Harrison was first published in the eighties, my recent experience with Song of the River marks my first encounter with her and her work.

To begin with, I was really drawn to Harrison's depiction of storytelling and the importance of oral traditions in the time before written language. During his travels, Chakliuk often notes the varied cultural differences between each of the villages, but in so doing he also highlights the similar belief systems and how each community is strengthened and maintained through stories that connect their present, the past and the future. Maybe it's just me, but I thought this approach intensely creative.

Harrison's talent is also evidenced in the makeup of her characters, a concept particularly recognizable in K'os. Bitter, resentful, cold and calculating, she doesn't garner much admiration or sympathy. Like Chakliuk and Aqamdax, readers can relate to her, but through this character, Harrison offers readers a rare opportunity to explore the idea of prolonged malice and its affect on human nature. 

Though it is impossible to know the exact details of any pre-historic culture, I was further impressed by the believably of Harrison's depiction of how these people might have lived. The seemingly mundane details - their clothing, the social hierarchy, the types of food they ate and the goods they traded for - meshed together in such a way that I felt very comfortable accepting the fictional portrait she created without wasting time agonizing over the truth of her descriptions. 

To sum up, Song of the River is an imaginative, character-heavy story that envelopes readers in a world that is both foreign and familiar. A bit drawn out in places, but intriguing none the less.

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This child was one of them. The Grandfather Rock had shaped a child, perhaps from Gull Wing’s blood, but more likely from animal blood. Now the rock offered the child to her as a gift, to give her power. To bring back her luck.
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CHeck out all the stops on sue Harrison's Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River Virtual Book Tour!

Monday, August 5
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 6
Review Bitches with Books (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Wednesday, August 7
Guest Post at HF Connection
Thursday, August 8
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Song of the River)
Monday, August 12
Review at Just One More Chapter (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Review at Closed the Cover (Song of the River)
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, August 13
Review Bitches with Books (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Song of the River)
Thursday, August 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 16
Review at Broken Teepee (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Monday, August 19
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 20
Review at Unabridged Chick (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, August 22
Review at Book Drunkard (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 23
Review at Too Fond (Song of the River)
Review at Broken Teepee (Song of the River)
Monday, August 26
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Book Drunkard (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 28
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Thursday, August 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Song of the River)
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 30
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Song of the River)

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