People Of The Sea (©1993)
Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear
As they have in past works ( People of the River ; People of the Earth ), the Gears illuminate American prehistory by focusing on a personal story. Here, the setting is coastal California 12,000 years ago. Melting glaciers are causing the waters to rise, the huge animals that once populated the area are disappearing and the human inhabitants have to learn to adapt to the changes. Sunchaser the Dreamer, powerful spiritual leader of the People of the Sea, is tormented by his inability to explain or correct recent adverse events, including disease and the disappearance of food sources, when a strange woman wanders into his shelter. Kestrel is pregnant by her lover and, pursued by her vicious husband, has fled from her native inland marshes toward the sea, hoping to find a home among her lover's people, the Otter Clan. Kestrel and Sunchaser fall in love, and together they make their way to the Otter Clan village, whose residents are on the verge of falling under the dangerous influence of an
unscrupulous Dreamer, Catchstraw, whose desperate search for power threatens everyone. The Gears, integrating a tremendous amount of natural and anthropological research into a satisfactory narrative, have again produced a vivid and fascinating portrait of early human life in America.