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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Journey - 4.5 Stars
The Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell is a fascinating journey into African History. The fantasy novel encompasses so many issues and handles them with aplomb. Wind Follower is a story about ancient African societies and their customs, cultures and traditions. So many issues are explored in this novel that resonate in our world today. The issues of race, class and...
Published on October 8, 2007 by Angelia Menchan

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning but sputtered in the end
Wind Follower, by Carole McDonnell, could be reduced down to the simple tale of "man falls in love with woman, man loses woman, man gets woman back" story, but that would lose a lot of depth of this story. The writing style of this novel is gritty and brutal which adds a lot to the tribal interactions of characters. The main characters are fascinating and...
Published on March 25, 2010 by D. Moonfire


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Journey - 4.5 Stars, October 8, 2007
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
The Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell is a fascinating journey into African History. The fantasy novel encompasses so many issues and handles them with aplomb. Wind Follower is a story about ancient African societies and their customs, cultures and traditions. So many issues are explored in this novel that resonate in our world today. The issues of race, class and religion are explored in ways I have never read in a fantasy novel. Being told from the fantasy angle only makes it more interesting.

The book follows the life of Loic and Satha, a married couple from different tribes. There are three main tribes that are divided by race and color. There is the white skinned, the light skinned and the dark skinned tribes. Loic is light and his wife, Satha, very dark. The personalities, customs and rituals of these tribes are discussed in-depth. It is very obvious Ms. McDonnell has done extensive research on ancient African tribal customs.

What makes Wind Follower such an intriguing book is how the themes of spirit and ancestor worship are amazingly intertwined with a strong Christian message. Some readers may find the perceived Christian angle difficult to digest because there are well described scenes of sex and violence. However, I found them integral to the story of Loic and Satha because it explored their relationship and how hard they worked against all odds to be together. A main component of the story is about Loic fighting for Satha's honor which would not allow the story to be told in any other way. Ms. McDonnell does an amazing job of making the characters in a fantasy, completely human.

Wind Follower is a compelling read from start to finish and I highly recommend it to all readers. This book is the type that can inspire conversations for years to come.

Angelia Menchan
APOOO BookClub
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Fantasy that Reads like Spiritual Folklore!, November 13, 2007
By 
Mir (North Miami Beach, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
What a read! I loved this book.

An immature but fervent young man at odds with the spirits of his people, yet destined for some greatness he doesn't comprehend or believe; a woman of virtue and selflessness of a different tribe and color who must marry this young , flawed chieftain's son besotted with her looks and manner; and a crucial historical moment when their peoples are threatened by an outside tribe intent on conquest as their religious right: That's the premise of WIND FOLLOWER. Much conflict and growing up ensues.

Carole McDonnell, an author with graceful prose and a fierce talent, has penned a delightful fantasy that rings with echoes of human history and anthropology as well as abounding with Biblical allusions. The combination of her skill in storytelling, her finely realized world with its various cultures and customs, and her definite and unapologetic Christian worldview is one I found resulted in a tale that is exhilirating and refreshing, upholding Christianity within a fantasy framework in an age and genre generally cynical about or skeptical of or openly hostile to such a worldview.

This is a novel that allows for the variety in its fiction that is naturally found in the real world. It's not a Euro fantasyland such as Tolkien's or Lewis' or a host of others that seem to have one or both feet stuck in medieval England or Ireland. No, this one has too many suggestions that its world is set in a place akin to frontier America, while not being bound point by point to that era or geography. There are suggestions of Asia, of Latin America, of Africa (Muslim and pagan and Christian), of Anglo settlers slash conquerors, of Native Americans.

There are three main resident tribes, each with its own characteristics and customs and appearance--one evoking Africa, one a blend of Asia and Native Americans, one less quantifiable but seemingly akin to Latino-mestizos. And there is the supernatural "tribe" composed of legion of beings who interact with the native peoples in various ways, not all of them seemingly worthless or wholly benevolent. There is something more complex at work, and all may not be as it seems.

The human story centers on two characters, an impoverished spinster-woman of the "African" tribe, and a man who is a chieftains's son of the "Asian/Native American" tribe. For him, it is love at first sight. For her, not so much. And the story of his wooing and her resitance, and then of the complications that come into their married life--including some significant treacheries and tragedies--build to a climax that will affect the entire world, and will remind readers of the most significant spiritual narrative of the last 2000 years.

The story is affecting as a love story, as a quest story, as a tragedy, as a heroic tale, as a tale of spiritual warfare. And the voice that the author uses is effective for the telling of such a story, both musical and poetic enough to give it the feel of an oral retelling of a great folklorically-enshrined history, and non-contemporary enough in the sound to feel both culturally different and sacred.

I heartily recommend this to both Christians and non-Christians. Christians familiar with their sacred texts will easily pick up on the multitude of paraphrases and allusions and it will enrich the meaning. But a warning note for those who are on the prudish side or have a thing about sexuality in fiction: There are some scenes that you may find offputting. I found they added and did not detract from the story. But then, I find asexual depictions of romance and marriage false and gynecological exam depictions of sex gratuitious. Carole McDonnell walks the line perfectly. Enough that it feels like real people with real experiences. Not so detailed that you feel as if you stared into someone's bedroom at the wrong time.

Non-Christians will enjoy a tale of romance and adventure and the seeking of one's identity and of truth. Well, anyone can enjoy that. Plus good writing.

If I had to pick out one negative, it's the numerous typos--excess words, missing words, and other booboos-- that the copyeditor should have caught. I hope the book goes into multiple printings and gets a wide readership, but please, for the second and other printings, can the editors at Juno fix those errors? This story deserves the best presentation possible. At the same time, I'd like to thank Juno for having the vision to publish this fine story that is unashamedly theistic.

Oh, and the cover is kicking, but it really should feature both the strong female, Satha, and her spouse, Loic. It's a dual story that is belied by the emphasis on Satha on the cover.

Thumbs up. Very high up and wagging with pleasure.

Mir
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning but sputtered in the end, March 25, 2010
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
Wind Follower, by Carole McDonnell, could be reduced down to the simple tale of "man falls in love with woman, man loses woman, man gets woman back" story, but that would lose a lot of depth of this story. The writing style of this novel is gritty and brutal which adds a lot to the tribal interactions of characters. The main characters are fascinating and damaged--something I enjoy greatly. However, all of the characters, primary and secondary, suffer with rapid changes of emotions throughout the story, which made it difficult to follow the complexity of the inter- and intra-tribal relationships.

I loved the world-building except for the foreign words interspersed throughout the book. They took me a while to translate into analogs of my own experience which pulled me out of the story.

The first half of the book is my favorite, for the world and character building, the interactions and even the religion. The final quarter I did not enjoy as much. I felt it ended too quickly without a satisfying ending. The rapid changes in emotional state turns into sudden changes in abilities, comprehension, and plot revelations. The emotional rapport that the author gives to the readers snaps with this ending and what could have been an enjoyable ending came out as a sputtering stop. I wasn't aware of the author before reading this and I felt that the ending was inspired too much from Christian tales, in specific the stories of Jesus and Moses, with just a few of the names changed as appropriate. Even with those influences, I'd rather see the ending built up a bit more and less copied from already established stories.

One could say something about judging the book by its over, but I absolutely loved the cover on this one. Would I read it again? Maybe once or twice more, but I'm likely to set it down two-thirds into the story simply because of the ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Cover, September 21, 2007
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
There's a classic saying that states you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. Simply looking at the cover, the average reader might assume that the book is just about a beautiful and powerful woman. But it's far more than that. I doubt that any cover could really accurately depict everything that this book holds.

Windfollower follows the stories of two main characters: Loic and Satha. Both accounts are interwoven and written in first person, but Carole McDonnell manages to give each character a unique voice. The many cultures, the characters, the places all seem real. This isn't a book that is simply read. It is a book that absorbs you and draws you into the detailed, beautiful, and sometimes tragic world of Doreni, Thesini, and Ibeni. The book reveals these cultures and all their traits without causing the reader to feel swamped and overwhelmed.

I found this to be an excellent book and one that I will definitely stay on my favorites list. Parts made me want to cry, and other parts made me smile. The language alone makes the book worth reading and worth quoting. McDonnell proves herself to be an excellent wordsmith. She doesn't rely on old, cliche phrases. She creates her own.

This is a must read for any lover of epic fiction, romance, or other cultures. Even for just the casual reader. This book deserves every star and more than one read. Jobara!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fantasy that Explores Our Reality, February 16, 2008
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This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell is a mythopoetic story where myth and poetry fuse to create a new reality. Ms. McDonnell tells her story with poetic rhythmic beats that create a culture both alien and recognizable at the same time. Even the time sense of the story is off balance just enough to create subtle disorientation, all the while keeping the reader's feet firmly planted in her world.

Wind Follower is rich in Biblical allusion, both the noble and the horrific. Ms. McDonnell reminded me that the Bible is not a collection of dumbed-down Sunday school vignettes, but rather the story of the working out of God's plan in history despite the ugliness men and women try to throw in His way, such as rape, revenge, racism, murder, and ethnic cleansing. Though these episodes are graphic, Ms. McDonnell does not use them gratuitously.

Through them, Ms. McDonnell reaches back to the nearly forgotten foundation of mythic fantasy, and she reminds us that Story was created by inspired men and women to explore and explain our reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wind Follower Is Excellent!, December 18, 2007
By 
Chris Howard (Metairie, LA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell is undoubtedly one of my favorite books of the year. As I sit down to write this review I find myself faced with the same problem I had earlier this year when reviewing The Time Traveler's Wife...How do I do this book justice? Wind Follower is a complex yet very readable book; an epic story that tells a powerful tale that imbibes the soul and is filled with passion in each page.

The story is set in a wonderfully unique world that's not often seen in fantasy literature. I'm not totally certain you'd classify this as fantasy, but it has the epic feel of a high fantasy novel and certainly has some fantastic aspects to it, so that should work. The world as I pictured it is a rich desert-like landscape somewhere in the African region. Three tribes abide in this region: The Theseni, the dark skinned original natives of the land; the Doreni, the lighter brown skinned people of the land who conquered the Theseni 500 years ago, and the Ibeni who I took to be people of Asian descent but I could be way off there. With each tribe, McDonnell has created a rich history and beautiful customs. Each tribe is wholly believable as a tribe that actually existed in our Earth's past as McDonnell so skillfully and masterfully describes their ways.

Loic is the son of Taer, the head of a Doreni clan. At the age of eighteen, Loic lays eyes on Satha, a Theseni woman who is 26 years old, and wants her for his wife. It's an unlikely marriage. Satha is beyond normal child bearing years and comes from a poor family. She is dark skinned and from a different tribe than Loic. But Loic has eyes only for her and swears to take her as his only wife and so he weds her and makes her part of his powerful household.

This unlikely union has many obstacles to face just in being what it is. But there are many other things that it will face. Loic has "the falling sickness" or epilepsy as we know it and he is considered weak for it, though few talk about it. This is one of many things that he must overcome to prove himself a strong leader. He must father a child to show his strength. And with that the couple faces more issues.

I really don't want to go much more into the plot because the book tells such a strong and gripping tale, a powerful tale that is so emotionally engaging. McDonnell takes on issues of rape, race, slavery, war, religion, and so much more and nothing is held back. She faces these issues head on and handles them in a way that is raw and honest yet leaves the soul satisfied.

It leaves the soul satisfied because one of the major themes of the book is spirituality. There is plenty of Christian allegory in this book, but you certainly don't have to be a Christian to enjoy it. The tribes in the novel are all steeped in their individual religious practices, some of them very raw, some very beautiful. They reminded me of Native American and Mayan religious practices. Loic and Satha go through quite a bit of trauma in this book. I'm not going to go through it because I don't want to spoil the plot, but they are separated and endure a lot. But there is an enduring spirit there and it comes from a power higher than man. It's truly beautiful and Carole has a true gift in being able to write such touching prose.

I can't say enough about Carole McDonnell's writing. It just blew me away! She created a world that was so incredibly complex with it's own slang, scenery, caste system, races, etc. and made it feel so comfortable. I fell into it easily. I fell in love with her characters instantly. Loic and Satha will both stay with me for a long time. They are both incredibly strong, amazing characters and I'm glad to have met them. Her use of language is just phenomenal. I found the novel painting a picture in my head as I read it, her words are chosen so perfectly. She certainly has a career ahead of her that I look forward to following.

Wind Follower was published through Juno Books which is a very cool publisher. I had never heard of it before finding this book, but Juno publishes books that focus on strong female characters! How cool is that?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial, Colourful, Contemplative!, December 4, 2007
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
I'd heard this book was controversial, and that it doesn't fit easily in any one genre. I'd heard it was sensual and violent in places, and that there were people who had problems with it. Did it put me off? Nope. Rather, it intrigued me. I'm a fan of genre-bending - and genre-blending! Thus, the idea of a fantasy/supernatural romance tale linked to racial issues and the colonisation of America, among other things, provided plenty to provoke my curiosity. But it wasn't at all what I expected after what I'd been hearing.

Unlike most romances, this story begins with a wedding, a fine introduction to the culture and traditions of the tribes. Their normal world is introduced in vibrant colour and passion. It is only after their marriage that Loic and Satha must face the greatest challenges: separation, captivity, abuse, and battles within themselves.

The story is told from alternating viewpoints of both main characters, in such a way as to carry the story onward from the moment the other paused in their tale. There is a wonderfully clear distinction between two points of view - the changing viewpoints are easy to follow; at every moment it is clear who is speaking. Their characters influence the words they tell, giving each narrator their personal flavour. This makes for a varied and colourful narrative of the continuous story flow as seen by two highly unique individuals - each of them strong-willed and stubborn.

At the beginning, I was simply plunged into the strangeness of the world described, and the passions of the two tellers. Yet as the tale moved on, parallels to America's turbulent early years as a colony became more and more unescapable. The same is true of the commentaries revealed about the white man's enslavement of other races.

The book is also brimming with Biblical allusions, direct quotes, and shadows of more ancient histories. As it moves towards the climax, spiritual elements flood into Loic's life, and Satha's too. Though still parted, their stubborn hope begs to be rewarded.

And the end is not really the end. It is as if a section of a larger history has been told, and much more is to come. Yet the story is complete and gives a sense of fulfillment, while leaving many questions to ponder regarding actual history, Christian parallels, and the deeper spiritual message hidden in every line of the manuscript.

Yes, this is a highly unusual book - in my eyes, typical of the new wave of Christian speculative fiction in its refusal to fall into a tidy category. What's more, Wind Follower is anything but predictable. It is not a comfortable tale, but it is a solemn, mystical adventure, displaying the hero's journey to his own heart, and the heroine's discovery of her beloved's faith in the midst of impossible circumstances. This one will make you think for sure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wind Follower, a multicultural fantasy that evokes another era, September 9, 2007
By 
Amazon Customer "sfharper59" (Orlando, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
Wind Follower
Wind Follower is a lush multicultural romantic fantasy set in a world rich with the myths and history of colonial Africa. Three clans interact and vie for supremacy while facing incursions from invaders outside their traditional lifestyle. Good historical detail about village life is used throughout. The question this story raises is how people resolve their differences in a changing world. The morality of good for society over good for individuals is well portrayed. Also portrayed well is how modern religion migrated throughout colonial countries finding points of similarity in the traditional beliefs of the people and using that to form a strong bond.

The more personal story of the love two characters have for each other despite differences in age, culture and economic status is very touching and has good emotional impact on the reader. Loic falls madly in love with Satha on first sight because of her help for others and impetuously demands to marry her. Satha has a hard time in believing in her luck. Their gentle lovemaking is very sensual . Despite their differences, both are joined by their belief in the Wind God and the blessings he provides.

But just when they overcome their differences and start to love each other, circumstances tear them apart. The tragedy that ensues when a trusted friend betrays Satha and the family sends them down different road--Loic seeking revenge. As events unwind, ancient spirits who have been usurped by demons challenges Satha and Loic's faith in the Wind God. The speculative part of the story really unrolls at the end. Both characters suffer greatly and only at the end do they see each other as the other half of their own personal strength.

I think what readers will remember best is Carole McDonnell's poetic turn of phrase, strong characterization, and the challenging world she created.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Angry At the Ending ...[...], April 28, 2010
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This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
I cant ... I just ... That ending sucked! I am so angry right now!

Satha is a 24 year old virgin girl from a darker skinned clan and she marries Loic, an 18 year old chiefs son from a mid-toned skin clan.

*takes a deep breath*

The book started off slow but picked up by about chapter 3. It was definitely a page turner and I couldn't put it down, however, I found that a lot of the conversation between Loic and 'elders' was very boring and I would skip a page to get passed it. I loved reading about their struggles though but felt like ... They went through all this and got nothing out of it. There was no green grass ... Just more poverty and enslavement despite The Creator (and Loic) being the good guy. In all fairness, it wasn't Loic's fault that they failed, the three tribes were not interested in the Lost Book, only the tainted version that the evil spirits had been feeding them.

Still, I'm just so disappointed, this thing really pissed me off. Could have been a 5 star book but it's not. I just ... I cant. That ending really made me angry, never again will I read a book of this woman's and I wont recommend it to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intense African romantic historical fantasy, October 7, 2007
This review is from: Wind Follower (Paperback)
Death and constant grief are all that Satha has seen in her young life as her impoverished clan the Theseni has suffered severely during the forty year war caused by the superior outsiders. Now she has left her ever weeping despondent mother behind to journey across the land to that of the affluent Doreni clan where she marries Loic, son of the king's First Captain. He has the skill of reading souls and tries to bring some solace to his sorrowful spouse, whom he loves and cherishes.

As she begins to loves her gentle husband; a serpentine betrayal from a trusted friend occurs. Loic knows he must avenge their honor, but his love for Satha has turned to loathing for what he believes she caused. While on his quest to regain what he blames Satha for losing, the Arkhai spirits doom him to fail for fear he is the one to bring the Creator back to the country that they control. While he is gone, Satha has no defenders; she is sold into slavery to the abusive religiously right Angleni clan. The Creator is there for this dysfunctional couple struggling with danger and despondency; but each must reach out to the Creator if they are to spiritually heal.

This intense African romantic historical fantasy vividly brings to life the interrelationships between the three tribal clans as well as the effect of the outside forces. Thus the audience receives a complex tale of broken love and potential redemption in which the backdrop is a war torn land and on a metaphysical plane the spirits interfere with the lead couple while the Creator encourages them to find paradise lost. Carole Mcdonnell writes a powerful character driven (not just by humans) epic parable, which depending on what the pair separately do could turn into a great Greek (albeit African) tragedy or a second coming.

Harriet Klausner
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Wind Follower
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell (Paperback - September 11, 2007)
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