Book name: Cry of the Wind
Author: Sue Harrison
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: ebook, print, audiobook
Genre: Historical fiction
Publication Date: 1998
Star Rating: 5/5
I don’t read many books set in truly ancient times, but there was just something about Cry of the Wind that made me grab it off the shelf in our local second-hand bookshop. Once I started reading, I was hooked.
The fact that the book is set in 6458 BC quickly became its core appeal to me; and I was left to wonder why I don’t read more historical fiction and became determined to do so more often.
Cry of the Wind is the second book in the Storyteller Trilogy, so I had some catching up to do in terms of who was who and about the events that had taken place in the first book, Song of the River.
The sequel continues the tale of two tribes of ancient peoples living in Alaska: the Cousin River People and the Near River Villagers.
Aqamdax has had quite a time of it, as in fact does everyone in this saga. She was sold as a slave but has since been given her freedom. As Cry of the Wind opens, she is married to Night Man and expecting his child.
She is determined to be a good wife, but he is very difficult to be around; in particular he suspects (wrongly) that the child she carries is not his. Aqamdax’s obvious love for Chakliux spurs Night Man’s jealousy on with terrible consequences.
Not long after the brutal murder of Chakliuk’s mother, a woman and baby appear in the Near River Village. This is Red Leaf, who fled the Cousin River People before her death sentence could be carried out for a murder that took place before the action opens.
She creates a new identity for herself and persuades Cen, a trader, to marry her. Marriage takes place very quickly for these ancient peoples, yet the women can ‘throw away’ an unfit or cruel husband and men are allowed to take more than one wife.
Red Leaf’s second chance is jeopardised when K’os, a female slave from the Cousin River People’s camp, arrives at the Near River Village and recognises her.
Much of the narrative tension comes from the personal relationships portrayed in Cry of the Wind. The rest, and there’s plenty to go round, derives from the unflinchingly relentless nature of their lives.
I was fascinated by the structure of their society, and equally enthralled by their minutiae of their lives: how a lodge is made, cooking and hunting, keeping food safe from predators.
Cry of the Wind was an amazing story. Their lives were so different, yet their internecine squabbles and endless rivalries are not so very unlike our own behaviour. The narrative tension never let up, and in so challenging a physical environment there was no shortage of action or drama.
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