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Neitherworld Book One Akiiwan (CreateSpace Version) Paperback – November 7, 2007
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From Kirkus Reviews
Blending Native American myth, archaeological detail, government conspiracy and a sci-fi flair, Baker covers a lot of ground, but does so with dexterity and grace.
The author populates this unique story with alien civilizations, 17th-century Ojibwe shamans, shady government agents and professional archaeologists. In doing so, Baker tries to tap numerous niche audiences…Baker is a talented writer and an adept syncretist. Akiiwan begins in the 1600s, during which time a talented Native American shaman—Voice-in-the-Sky—is contacted by members of an alien race who are interested in living with the Ojibwe people and sharing with them their secrets and talents.
Fast-forward to the modern day, when government agents hire skilled archaeologist Samantha Horner to learn more about Voice-in-the-Sky and the mysterious powers he may have possessed. But from the moment her excavation begins, strange occurrences—violent storms, unexpected attacks on crew members and baffling disappearances—suggest to Horner that something strange is afoot. Baker tells Horner’s tale with a skillful ease. His prose is elegant and precise and his descriptions—both of his characters and of the natural world—are beautiful and evocative.
A well-done book… --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
It's obvious you have an abundant imagination and the true heart of a writer. -- Jeremy Robinson
The prose is elegant and precise. The descriptions--both of characters and of the natural world--are beautiful and evocative. -- Kirkus Discoveries --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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Blending archeology with Native American myth and alien wonder, Baker weaves a story so complex it will stun you ... and he ties it all together with grace and dexterity, like the best of wordsmiths. This story starts with a revered shaman of the 1600s, continuing on into contemporary times.
I was hooked from the prologue and couldn't wait to read more ... to find out what happens to Samantha Horner, the archeologist called in by a real estate developer to examine and excavate a site found on Blue Heron Island in Minnesota where he was building a luxury housing community.
But is the developer what he claims to be? Why are government agents so interested in the project? Will Samantha be able to save the island the Native Americans hold sacred without a rebellion? And how does a mysterious young girl, descendant of a famous shaman, fit into the picture. Does Samantha--who has a small amount of Native blood--have the supernatural "gift" that the child does? And what does the "black hole" have to do with people disappearing?
To find out the answers, you will have to RFY (read for yourself); to say more would be to spoil the plot.
In addition to exciting twists and turns and several back-stories, there is also romantic intrigue between Samantha and Dr. Ron Griffith, a co-worker on the excavation.
It's evident from this first novel that Baker has a talent for writing. His characters ring true, his dialog is impeccable, and the intricate plot is carefully, professionally woven to form a block-buster book. Intriguing storyline! Likable characters with just enough villains to make for hours of good reading.
I highly recommend this book--in fact, I "dig" it--and look forward to the second in the series which has just been released.
Reviewed by: Betty Dravis, 2008
As with any large-scale work of art, the viewer occasionally needs to step back to appreciate the complexity yet move in close to absorb the details the artist is expressing. This is true of Baker's work, as well, especially since the story requires another whole volume (Book Two Ishpiming) before it is concluded. If the reader is captivated by the storyline, the commitment to see it through will follow.
The setting for Akiiwan is a small island in the middle of a lake in northern Minnesota, considered to be sacred by the Native Americans of that area. The Ojibwe nation had called the region home for several centuries and was particularly protective of the island in the center of the lake. Baker populates this setting with an archeological team hired by a man posing as a real estate developer. The team's purpose is to explore, identify and set aside any historical artifacts found to clear the way for the developer to begin construction.
As with any good yarn, the conflict is set early: "However, there may be something significant in the island's central clearing. There's a cave and a large boulder there with what I'm told may be ancient petroglyphs. If so, I'd like to know what they mean."..."So would I...so would science," Sam said, her eyes narrowing with curiosity over both the Ojibwe site and the developer's motives."
The introduction of a security team to accompany the dig team clues the reader in to the real motive driving exploration of the unusual island and is one of several strong threads of mistrust woven throughout the tale. The science fiction element takes it place alongside the mystical ceremonies of the ancient shamans in the form of an anomaly that intrigues the secret government agencies who hope to learn more about it through the guise of the archeological dig.
Tension and interaction among the team members, led by Dr. Samantha Horner, is believable as is the communication and relationships with other characters who become involved in the dig and its revelations. Baker also brings to life a set of animal characters who serve a purpose in revealing conflict within the spirit world which brings yet another degree of intrigue and drama to the disharmony building throughout the novel. A ten-year-old child, Orenda, is the catalyst for making things happen between the past, present and future states of the island and its mysteries.
Well-done illustrations interspersed throughout the novel add clarity and a sense of realism to support the storyline.
While I enjoyed the story, I must say I was distracted by the lack of good editing and proofreading. It is rare for a book to be totally mistake-free but this one had more than I am used to seeing. Good editing would certainly have eliminated sentences such as "It was a dark and rainy night" and tightened up a few scenes that had perhaps too many details along with the occasional awkward passage. It is always difficult to know what to cut and what to keep when weaving a fanciful tale but I think it is particularly important when telling a tale with a long, complicated storyline.
Overall, NeitherWorld Book One Akiiwan is an engaging escape from the world, as we typically know it, and it will delight readers who enjoy the mixed genres represented in Baker's work. I look forward to reading Book Two Ishpiming.
Review by Paula Buermele, a reviewer for Bookpleasures and the author of the fictional novel, "The Dream Catcher Tour".
The intensity of the events makes the book captivating and enjoyable reading. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series during my April vacation.