Prehistories are for a hard sell for me. I don't know why, but they are difficult for me to get into so when I manage to find one that holds my interest, I tend to take notice which brings me to Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison.
Like Song of the River, this piece is character heavy, but what is so remarkable is how distinct, well-rounded and realistic each cast member feels. I can't imagine what goes into painting the motivations, personality and emotional struggles of so many characters so vividly, but Harrison's effort certainly isn't wasted. In point of fact, I feel the authentic quality of her cast is what makes not just this piece, but her entire body of work so exceptional.
Speaking of relatable characters, I should probably mention my attraction to Chagak. Her path is a difficult one, but as a woman who had to overcome sexual abuse, I really admire Harrison for creating a character that doesn't allow the experience to define her life. I've seen authors attempt this story line before, but can honestly say few have pulled it off as well.
Strong characterization isn't the only aspect of Harrison's work worth mentioning. Her books are long, but they are also overflowing with cultural history. I might be going out on a limb, but I think it safe to say Harrison puts as much into her research as she does developing her plot lines and her cast. Her understanding and respect for the indigenous people of North America emanates from every page, making her work as intriguing as it is entertaining.
All told, Mother Earth Father Sky is a beautiful story of perseverance and strength amidst incredible hardship, as notable for its content as its flawless presentation.