Reading Corner – Voice of the Eagle

I finished reading The Voice of the Eagle, by Linda Lay Shuler, today and LOVED it.

For those of you here for the first time, this is a second book in a series by Shuler. The first is called She Who Remembers.

These stories are rich and magical portraits of Indian tribal living in the American Southwest in the late 13th century. I am fascinated by the culture and spiritual traditions. Shuler researched the period and life of Pueblo Indians in-depth and her knowledge of history weaves well with the fictional story and characters she created. I think it’s a wonderful journey to walk alongside these characters and to imagine life before the modern conveniences of today. The way cultures of the past, particularly Indians, were so connected to the earth, animals, and the world around them is inspiring.

I think I liked the second book better than the first, by just a small margin, but I would not suggest skipping the first if you’re interested in reading these. I don’t think book 2 would be as impressive without having read book 1 and knowing the stories and background that were in book 1.

There are little things here and there in Shuler’s writing that are not as sophisticated as I want them to be but these are little things that are easily forgiven (and not worth describing in detail) in light of all the other many things that I enjoy about her writing, story, and characters. I’ve read some criticism that the story never fully comes to life for readers but I disagree. I’ve been thoroughly transported to another time and I love it. I’ve gained a greater understanding for the trade lifestyle (and turquoise) of the Indian culture. I saw the land through their eyes and felt their connection to it. I ran with them on buffalo hunts, watched sacred ceremonial dances, was awed by their building skills and techniques of their cities.

I have in fact actually seen some cliff dwelling style ruins in Arizona when Don and I moved south a few years ago.

Montezuma’s Castle National Monument

These particular ruins are not related to the clans depicted in Shuler’s stories, but they are similar. Unfortunately, they cannot be explored up close due to damage of the ruins so we only saw this from a distance. At the time, we were impressed, thought it was pretty cool. Now, having read two books about people living in these styles of homes, imagined life in those walls, I am so much more intrigued and hope to travel back to the Four Corners region of the US someday to explore some of these historical sites up close.

Don and I encountered another area that looked like cliff dwelling ruins along our drive south in 2008 but they were not marked or protected as historical sites. We simply saw this on the side of the road. Pretty amazing…

I would like to share a passage from Voice of the Eagle with you that stuck a chord with me, as with so many others.

“…the hunters had returned in triumph with an elk, three deer, six turkeys, a fat mountain sheep, and enough rabbits and squirrels to make a community stew and three winter robes. There was feasting and many tales of the hunt. Meat was stored, and every part of the animal was utilized including the blood, fat, and sinew. Bones were sorted and those that could not be used for tools or awls or needles or other implements were tossed to the dogs. Turkey feathers were carefully saved to adorn ceremonial objects and to be woven into belts and blankets, and the city resounded with the shrill rejoicing of turkey-bone whistles.” 

I am amazed at the way past cultures could make use of every part of a plant or animal or other substance needed for food, clothing, shelter, and so forth. I believe we’ve lost a little of our frugal sensibilities that we once had as a people with the advent of modern technology and conveniences. I don’t mean to say I’m going to shun modern conveniences and move to the forest and live as one with nature. But I think it is good to pause and think about this way of life from time to time. I also think that little things like efforts to recycle, or to use products made from recycled materials, is something that you can do in modern-day to help reuse materials and reduce our impact on the earth.

Here’s another fun quote from the book.

Acoya shook his head. “I don’t understand girls at all.”
Tolonqua smiled.  “Be assured you never will. That is the seasoning that makes them interesting.”  

I can’t wait to start reading book 3, Let the Drum Speak.

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.
~ Walt Disney


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