People of the Morning Star: A People of Cahokia Novel (Book One of the Morning Star Series) (North America’s Forgotten Past 21) W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

morning star
Available on Amazon

I’ve been a fan of the Gears since I picked up their first book many years ago. This new series begins with People of the Morning Star, a saga of the Cahokian people. Cahokia was an enormous city that “at its height, covered more than six square miles around what is now St. Louis.” Ancient people often packed up and moved to the great city. The Gears have captured the awe-inspiring qualities of this early civilization with their usual skill. Well researched, the couple weave the spiritual resurrection of the Cahokian ‘Morning Star’ who is reborn in the body of Chunkey Boy.

The Morning Star’s Clan assumes coveted positions in Cahokia. But, with power comes envy. As with all ruling classes, there are those who would challenge the divine Morning Star and his family. While he is instrumental in this brilliant tale of the past, it is his sister, Night Shadow Star, who captured my attention. Widowed and devastated by the loss of her husband, who was killed during a raid on Red Wing Town, Night Shadow Star uses a type of hallucinogenic to descend to the Underworld. She becomes “possessed” by the spirit Piasa. Thus, begins a story of intrigue, murder, mystery, and secrets.

The authors guide the reader through the interwoven lives of the characters, developing every personality and the conflicts they face. Someone is killing Morning Star’s Four Winds Clan members in horrible and violent ways. The Morning Star himself is attacked! As the characters grow and the story progresses, it reads like a detective story from the ancient past. The Gears show an incredible ability to create a political mystery from distant times.

I fell in love with the characters Fire Cat of the Red Wing Clan, and Seven Skull Shield, a rascally thief. Both prove to be unlikely heroes, and along with Night Shadow Star grow into fascinating characters. Set in a colorful landscape of towering mounds and homes, rich spiritual journeys, and life-altering mysteries, this is a story to savor.

I enjoyed this excellent book so much I have already started reading the next book in the series. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys mystery, history, early North American civilizations, and thrilling action.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

30 Ramey Street Collinsville, IL 62234 | 618-346-5160 | © Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

From Booklist

The Gears, husband-and-wife authors-archaeologists, launch another multibook story arc with roots in one of their previously published books. Set 50 years after People of the River (1992), this tale continues the chronicle of the magnificent Cahokia Empire. After multiple tribes come together and build an astonishingly large and flourishing megaplex in the center of the American heartland, trouble festers from within in the form of an assassination attempt on their spiritual figurehead. The Messiah must be protected in order to preserve their cosmopolitan society. As always, cultural traditions and religious rituals play an enormous role in propelling the narrative forward. Basing this new chapter in their ongoing Native American saga on current research and evidence, the Gears are able to communicate often-arcane historical and archaeological information within a compelling fictional format. –Margaret Flanagan


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