People of the River, by Kathleen & Michael Gear
People Of The River (©1992)

by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Following their three bestselling paperbacks ( People of the Earth , etc.), the Gears cross over to hardcover with this absorbing addition to their First North Americans series. Here they cover the culture of the so-called Mississippians, who, between 700 A.D. and 1500 A.D., lived in the area surrounding Cahokia in what is now Illinois. The authors, who are also professional archeologists, depict a hierarchical society that depends on corn for sustenance, worships various gods, builds mounds of earth (some as high as 100 feet) and develops a precise knowledge of astronomy. As the novel opens, a severe drought has hit the region. The villagers near Cahokia cannot feed themselves, much less pay the required tribute of corn to Tharon, their chief, but he sends his soldiers to prey on them anyway. The religious ceremonies, ethics and taboos as well as the passions and longings of these ancients are made urgent and vivid in dramas centering on Tharon's conflicted chief warrior; the woman who fights

at his side; a priestess whose dreams predict the future; and a young Dreamer who will be a priestess someday.