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Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


Storykeeper is a complex read. With both perspective and time in flux, readers are carried along on a historical and cultural journey that, while compelling, requires attention to detail: not for those seeking light entertainment, it's a saga that demands - and deserves - careful reading and contemplation. - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

I was not only entertained by this book, but educated about a period of history of which I knew nothing. I have no hesitation in recommending this book no matter where your historical interest may lie. I give it 5 stars! - Helen Hollick, Managing Editor, Historical Novel Society

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. - Kathy Davie   Books, Movies, Reviews!

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. - Dawn Edwards, The Kindle Book Review

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. - SK, The Jelly Bomb Review

From the Inside Flap

The Dream

     I was at peace, wandering a great valley with orchards, fields of corn and beans, and herds of elk and buffalo. Over the ridge, the sky grew dark. Uneasiness filled me as I climbed. I found lodges burned and crumbling, bodies of mothers and their children, men with their wives, and animals of all kinds. In every direction, fire smoldered and flesh rotted.
     Calling for my grandfather, I ran through the village to the top of the temple mound. I could see the land on all sides. The orchard, the fields, the herds were all gone. Despair weakened my legs. Anguish weighted me to the ground. Feeling the pain of the land and its people, I closed my eyes, hid my face, and wept.
     My cries echoed back with the sounds of danger. A brown bear charged toward me. In a moment, I regained my strength. Panic pushed me to my feet. Fear ran me to the edge of the mound.
     I felt her breath. She bit at my heels as if it were a game. And when I slowed, she struck me with one blow that ripped away my arm. The giant beast held my arm above her head and said, "I, Brown Mother Bear, wish to know what you will give for this."
     I had nothing, less than nothing. I stood without my arm, naked before the Great Brown Bear. "I am just a child and have nothing to give."
     She roared, "Not true. You are an old woman, and you have much wisdom. Give your stories to the ones who have not heard. Become the storyteller your people need."
     "What stories will I tell?" I asked.
     She lifted her head and moaned out a crying song. Then she dropped to all fours and pressed her nose to my face. "Give to your people, or they will lose more than an arm."
     Great Brown Mother Bear reared up once more, so tall, she blocked the sun, the moon, and the stars until all around me appeared black, black as eyes shut.

     Manaha, Mother-of-None

Product Details

  • File Size: 1522 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Daniel A. Smith; 3 edition (March 4, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,709 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Arlene Uslander on March 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
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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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Bagshaw on 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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Aurorawolf on 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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Loretta Giacoletto on 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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dee Harrison on March 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Davie on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
First in a Nine-Rivers Valley historical fiction series. This one is about the power of memory.

My Take
I love how Smith brought the Spanish invasion of the Americas to life through his use of Manaha and her storytelling. He held my attention throughout as he flashed back and forth from Manaha's childhood to her older life using Manaha as the vehicle to tease us into wanting to know what happened to Taninto. Why he lives as he does. What he fears. Providing a Native American perspective on the coming of the Spanish conquistadores.

In a short and lovely novel, 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. By re-creating his peoples' first encounters with de Soto, his greed, and the Black Sleep, Smith kindles our empathy for Taninto's family, his friends, and deepens the tragedy of what the future holds for these highly civilized people. Our loss for their culture is just that much more profound.

I just loved how Smith brought in the anger and need for independence of the characters as teenagers. That desire to be more important, to need to feel adult, and yet still react as children. It's too bad that Taninto was so young when he became disillusioned. Perhaps he could have had a better life if someone had been there for him.

I did like this acknowledgment from Manaha, that she "can never ask another to come out of hiding if [she] remains there". Then there's Taninto's proud claim to be "the Wanderer". How prophetic.

De Soto has some cheek.
Read more ›
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