With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels;
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!
Reviewed on: January 1, 2022
Book II of the Anasazi Mysteries
Tor Books: New York
Nearly a year after the events revealed in The Visitant, the first volume in the “Anasazi Mysteries, authors Kathleen O’Neal and W. Michael Gear graphically describe the bloodletting between and among the Katsinas’ People, led by War Chief Browser and Warrior Catkin, and bitter rivals the Flute Player Believers. Environmental degradation leads to hunger, sickness, refugees, and endemic warfare among the peoples and clans of the Four Corners area of modern-day Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. The downward spiral of violence leads Browser, Catkin, and their dwindling band of warriors in an almost hopeless crusade to protect their clansmen from the predations of wandering bands of marauding war parties. Into this milieu of violence an even greater evil presents itself when Browser and Catkin discover mutilated bodies in the kiva (an underground chamber used for religious purposes) of the deserted nearby Aspen Village. Not long after, Longtail Village—the most recent home of the Katsinas’ People—goes up in flames and dozens of children are burned to death. The world of the Anasazi—the Ancient Pueblo People—is collapsing.
Seven hundred years later, archaeologist William “Dusty” Stewart is finalizing his part of the report on the ill-fated NOAA project related in The Visitant, when his surrogate father and legendary archaeologist Dale Emerson Robertson offers him the opportunity to conduct an excavation for real estate builders who wish to include archaeological resources for public awareness and education as part of their envisioned housing development. The site—Pueblo Animas (Town of Souls)—appears to be a Chacoan great house of two stories and perhaps two hundred rooms, and likely an outpost associated with the culture studied in The Visitant. Dusty re-unites his three-person crew for the excavation, and they quickly unearth an ugly feature of the late Anasazi era: the kiva held the remain of dozens of children and adults, the victims of an apparent mass murder. Maureen Cole, one of academia’s leading physical anthropologists from Ontario’s McMaster University, a member of the Seneca Nation, and another participant in The Visitant adventure, is summoned to Pueblo Animas to analyze the skeletal remains. Dusty briefly reviews the history of the Ancient Puebloans: Whereas there were hundred of pueblos (settlements) in the Four Corners area in 1000 AD, there were but 27 by 1300 AD, and by 1200 AD constant inter- and intra-tribal warfare resulted in three clusters of settlements—one in Arizona and two in New Mexico.
While Dusty had always held Native American religious and spiritual beliefs in high regard, Maureen’s faith was firmly anchored in the scientific method and measurable data. Yet both are haunted by vivid dreams that seem to spring from the violent history of this ancient pueblo. After seven hundred years, a malignant evil still seemed to pervade the site. The excavation unearthed the evidence of a truly horrific episode in the history of a dying Ancient Puebloan culture.
A final flashback to seven hundred years earlier finds Browser and Catkin realizing that they must face an adversary more deadly than even the mad shaman Two Hearts—a dire hint of what is to come.
Four trowels for this wrenching story of violence and madness in the prehistoric Southwest. But in addition to a beguiling plot, the reader is treated to wonderfully rendered descriptions of the culture, rituals and lifeways of the Ancient Puebloans.