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Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Daniel A. Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One-hundred cold winters have passed since that first tragic encounter with Europeans. Manaha, Mother-of-None steps before the village fire. Rejecting taboos long held by her small tribe of survivors, the old woman demands that the children be allowed to hear stories and the truth about their abandoned homeland, decimated by an army of just three-hundred Conquistadors.
Before Manaha can finish her first story, the fire is doused, and her young listeners are frightened into the shadows. Friends shun her and a tribal elder threatens banishment, but Manaha refuses to stop. The only hope that the unique history and stories, the last remaining essence of a forgotten people, will survive lies with one unlikely Storykeeper.
A tender, poignant, and a powerful story is told from the perspective of the ancient people of the Mississippi River Valley, who outlived America's earliest and deadliest invasion.
------Winner of the Best Indie Book Award 2013-------

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the Best Indie Book Award 2013

Smith has created a wealth of history and culture that will make you weep. Creating words and phrases with a poetic sense, building a feel for Native American culture that feels so genuine and, yet, is eminently readable.
       Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh my! - Kathy Davie

Mr. Smith has written a fantastic tale from the Native American point of view about the conquest of the New World by Hernando DeSoto. He has done impeccable research . . . made that period in our history come alive for me. I learned much more about the conquest of the New World and life around the Mississippi River that now makes me want to read even more.        Kindle Book Review - Dawn Edwards

I love this story, and I applaud Daniel A. Smith on his diligent research. Smith writes some strong characters in this gripping story. Every human emotion is engaged, and at times I felt like I was right there with Manaha and the tribes who fought against DeSoto.  Superbly done.  I'm sure I will be reading this book again.     The Jelly Bomb Review - SK

A brilliant piece of writing, backed by immaculate research and a real feel for the period. The sheer beauty of the prose will keep readers mesmerized - as I was.           Sheila Mary Taylor  Count to Ten and Pinpoint

From the Inside Flap

The first recorded Europeans to cross the Mississippi River reached the western shore on June 18, 1541. Hernando de Soto and his army of three-hundred-fifty conquistadors spent the next year and half conquering the nations in the fertile flood plains of eastern Arkansas.

Three surviving 16th century journals, written during the expedition, detailed a complex array of twelve different nations. Each had separate beliefs, languages and interconnected villages with capital towns, comparably in size to European cities of the time. Through these densely populated sites, the Spanish carried a host of deadly old-world diseases, a powerful new religion and war.

No other Europeans ventured into this land until French explorers arrived one-hundred-thirty years later. They found nothing of the people or the towns that the Spanish had so vividly described.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1638 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Daniel A. Smith; 2 edition (March 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,705 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Book March 20, 2012
A beautifully written, poignant, heart-wrenching book told in the form of stories told by an ancient story teller, through the eyes and words of a present-day great story teller, Mr. Dan Smith. One cannot begin to guess how many hours of research went into Smith's research, but it stirs the imagination as we wonder how many other lost-forever civilizations existed before ours. The two main characters in this novel are Nanza, an ophaned child, eventually known as Manaha, when she grows up, and Tantinto, whom she believed to be her grandfather, a troubled hermit who raised her after her family had been tortured and murdered. Each night, Tantinto told the child a story from his youth, stories which Nanza-Manaha tells each night as an adult to those in the town, though her audience mainly consists of one, Ichisi, who hides in the bushes. For reasons which you will find out when you read this fascinating book, Manaha finally succumbs to the struggle of her tribes' last journey with stories untold, but she is comforted knowing that her one faithful listener will carry on. A circle ends; another begins. The stories start anew with Ichisi, Storykeeper. There are many sub-plots, and subtleties in this book, which space does not permit to tell. Although this is Daniel Smith's first book,I surely hope it will be the first of many. He is a very gifted writer, and a truly fine story teller. Hopefully,this "storykeeper" will share other stories with us. Arlene Uslander, author of "The Mystery of Fate: Common Coincidence or Divine Intervention?"
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nested stories told with great spirit April 4, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First you come to the fire with old Manaha, perhaps hiding in the shadows, but one you're strapped to the back of the grandfather, flowing with the current of the cold river waters, you know you can't turn back. You know why the stories must be told by the old when by the fire burning low the young boys "beat the drums without chants or dancers" so you follow them to Valley of the Nine Rivers. This captivating book contains a story within a story within a story, taking us back through the generations of Native Americans and with such skill, we feel we are right there. I wonder, since the details of the route Manaha took with her grandfather are so vivid, did the author actually take it himself?

I only wished for a map that would show me the locations described in the book. I was delighted to know the word Mississippi was once Mizzissibizzibbippi - long and meandering just like the river it portrays. Imagine that one in a spelling bee! But I wanted to know: was the Akama, the Arkansas River? And where was Little-Brother Mountain and the Valley of the Nine Rivers? Where was the island in the middle of the river? My road map of Arkansas is so clobbered with town and highways, I can't find the rivers, and Goggle didn't seem to know the old names either. So I recommend a map for the book's second edition.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant storytelling June 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I sat spellbound, engrossed in Manaha the storykeeper's tales, as though I were there myself. The prose in this story-fire was beautifully woven and thoroughly researched, as the master storyteller set story on top of story, and that on yet another story. I would imagine I was coming up to present time, only to slip further back into another age, another generation, another piece of history. I had learned a little about Hernando de Soto while a child in school, but not enough to fill in the cracks of history as the words in this book do.

Having lived in the Ozark region where the novel takes place, I was delighted to once again set foot among the hills, the caves, and the rivers I remembered, and even pulled out my atlas so I could follow the same paths Storykeepers' characters walked. This book is entertaining, educational, and well worth reading. An amazing strong yet tender journey, stories like this stay with readers forever. Storykeeper is a job well done and highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Weaver of Historical Fiction May 22, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Daniel A. Smith has proven himself a masterful weaver of historical fiction at its finest. In The Storykeeper an elderly 17th Century Native American reflects back on her orphaned youth and the self-appointed grandfather who brought her to womanhood. She also retells stories the grandfather shared with her, of his youth during the previous century when Hernando de Soto and his Conquistadors introduced Catholicism, the Spanish curse (smallpox), and a new style of war to the natives who first welcomed the Spaniards, only to later find themselves betrayed and vanquished. A must-read for fans of Native American history, and anyone who appreciates the subtleness of quality writing and detailed research that never bores the reader.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read March 18, 2012
Read this on another site and was well impressed. Good adventure tale, well written, with plenty to maintain interest. Background seems well researched and 'authentic'.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but plodding February 15, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a child of the mid south I have often wondered about the lives of the pre-Columbian Native Americans who left mounds, arrow points, and pottery shards to fascinate me in the fields of Arkansas and Mississippi. Just their struggle to survive in the harsh southern climate, flood zones, mosquitos and other obnoxious and dangerous flora and fauna, and disease and trauma is worth much imagination. There is much written about the more charismatic and better known Plains and Western tribes as well as the upper Eastern Woodland tribes. This book is a nice attempt at filling in the history of the Mississippi Valley natives and the impact of the early Spanish explorers.
Would that the book were not so slow and simple minded. The other detraction is one common to many literary treatments of more ancient people- that is the somewhat wooden, archetypal, humorless, and simple behavior and language of the characters.
The Bible is the supreme example. Surely Native American thought, behavior, and languages were capable of more nuance, wry humor, and sophistication. The societies must have been more layered than the frequent division into thick headed warrior types, pseudo wise old ones, stereotypically hard working female domestic types, and innocent, charming little kids. It is the task of authors writing of ancient peoples to completely flesh them out in sophisticated and nuanced prose.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved the way the story worked its way thru Arkansas River Valley & the Mississippi river.
Published 2 days ago by Rebecca Trammell
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient American history lost, but maybe reconstructed in novel...
I really enjoyed the description of the geography of the ancient peoples who lived in the Mississippi Valley region and the narrative of what may have become of these prehistoric... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Patricia Hickman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 6 days ago by Lucy Timmons
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the historical basis of the book
Enjoyed the historical basis of the book. Well written & well researched. Fills a gap in my knowledge of a part of the Native American people who first lived here. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Storykeeper is an intriguing insight into life reaching back to ...
Storykeeper is an intriguing insight into life reaching back to ancient times. The storykeeper has learned from her Gandfather the importance of keeping the stories of her life... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Roy L Baugh
3.0 out of 5 stars informative
A story that opens a glimpse into our past that shows the complexity of Native American culture and the devastation brought by the European explorers.
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Storykeeper
The story lives on in this tale of lives and times forgotten. Beautifully told! Stories are meant to be shared so we can learn about and know our world. Thank you for the lesson.
Published 10 days ago by J. Shap
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Enjoyed the read. NOt much to recommend to others. Had some interesting history, if accurate.
Published 1 month ago by John C. Stewart
4.0 out of 5 stars An out of the ordinary read.
A story within a story within a story. Very clever and well written, it held my interest throughout.
Published 1 month ago by Glenda
5.0 out of 5 stars Transform yourself into this book
A beautifully written account of Native American history which draws you in as a participant of this history. I felt as if I lived my life there as it drew me in. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. T. DELAMELENA
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More About the Author

Daniel grew up in Arkansas. In his youth, he worked for his father, riding in an old Studebaker pick-up around the state servicing refrigeration units in tourist courts and small country stores. Years later, Daniel traveled some of those same back roads for his own business, repairing and installing sound systems.

For the first time, he began to notice the amazing number of ancient earthworks that covered the state and realized he knew very little about who built them; when or why. What began as an observation grew to a driving curiosity to research historical documents and the state's vast archeological findings. The untold stories and lost history, all around him, inspired Daniel's debut novel, "Storykeeper."

Smith began his artistic career as a professional audio engineer. For over thirty-five years, he crossed the country, providing sound engineering services for all types of events from outdoor music festivals, concerts, and political rallies to lectures. A parcel list of celebrities Smith worked with includes numerous dignitaries such as Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush, also Bob Hope, Colin Powell, Paul Harvey, Martha Stewart, and Dr. Ruth, and wide variety of entertainers, including, Kris Kristofferson, Alice Cooper, Dolly Parton, Steve Martin, Allman Brothers Band, Jimmy Buffet, Barbara Mandrell, Ray Charles, Rebra McEntire, Dizzy Gillespie, Iron Butterfly, Dave Brubeck Quartet and Willie Nelson.

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