Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Coming Of The Storm by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear (Book Review)

Genre:Historical Fiction
Publication.Date  February 9th 2010
Published By:  Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster US)  | 
WebsiteW. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Coming Of The Storm - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

From New York Times bestselling novelists W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear comes the first book in a landmark new series that paints a vivid portrait of the devastating clash of cultures during the blood-drenched years that followed Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s landing in “La Florida” in 1539—as seen entirely through the eyes of two courageous Native Americans.

Black Shell, an exiled Chickasaw trader, is fascinated by the pale, bearded newcomers who call themselves “Kristianos,” and not even the counsel of Pearl Hand, the beautiful, extraordinary woman who has consented to be his mate, can dissuade him. Only after a firsthand lesson in Kristiano brutality does Black Shell fully comprehend the dangers these invaders pose to his people’s way of life. And while his first instinct is to run far from the Kristianos, Black Shell has been called to a greater destiny—by the Spirit Being known as Horned Serpent. With Pearl Hand by his side, Black Shell must find a way to unite the disparate tribes and settlements of his native land and overcome the merciless armies of de Soto. . . . (Goodreads)

Honor. A true man died with honor, even surrounded by enemies. It had been beaten into my young souls. Now, those same souls were floating, drifting in and out with each breath from my hot and sweat-streaked body.
I will die without honor. Pulled apart by dogs.
"Where they go, they take murder, death, and misery with them. In their wake they leave corpses and sickness. We don't see world as they do, Black Shell. We think in terms of order and chaos, each trying to balance the other. Nothing in our world is truly evil."
"The Kristianos have come," First Woman said softly. "But the people do not understand. They see only the glorious metals, the great cabayos with terrifying riders, and the fine fabrics dyed in so many colors. To be a high chief - lord of a nation - is to covet the Kristianos' wealth and strength. Our peoples are fools, Black Shell. The chiefs know only lust and greed, and would see it fall to them as allies of the Kristianos."
"To them everything is either good or evil. The struggle for balance is inconceivable, Black Shell. They claim their god is good but in his service commit only evil. Unlike our people, they live in hypocrisy: taking all in the name of their god, and leaving only wreckage, disease, and death in their wake . Some of them seek to convert a person's soul to their ways. Do you know what our people call such men?"
"Witches", I replied, feeling a cold shiver go down my spine.

     I'm not an expert when it comes to historical fiction. I do enjoy it a lot, but I can't say that I've read a great deal of it over the past few years. I do not have a whole lot of experience reading and reviewing books that deal with specific time periods and historical events. I also don't have sufficient knowledge about Hernando de Soto and his exploration and conquest of the American southeast to tell you just how historically accurate the Contact series really is. Here's what I can tell you, though: Coming of The Storm is immensely compelling, gorgeously told, action-packed, intelligent and moving. Well-paced, beautifully written, fascinating and engaging, this is a novel to devour, cherish and then share with all your friends. And re-read - not once, but many, many times -  discovering something new each time you come back to it. I found myself entirely submerged in the plot, shocked by the many violent scenes in the story, inspired by the bravery and spirit of the lead characters, and ultimately satisfied with how smoothly the story unfolded. Amazed, fascinated, and heartbroken, I'm steel reeling from it.

"They've brought death, haven't they? Not just to our people, but to our world. Nothing will ever be the same, will it?"

     Most of you are probably familiar with this quote: “The victors invariably write the history to their own advantage.” (Jean-Luc Picard). And didn't we all learn about the great discoverers and conquerors who bravely swam across the sees to explore, trade, and ultimately colonize new lands? But how many of you have stopped to think about the conquered nations? About those invaded, murdered, enslaved, and eventually robbed of their land? Have you ever wondered what they thought when they watched the "floating palaces" materialize on the horizon and slowly approach? How they felt when thousands of "white faces" started pouring out of them, dressed in weird, colorful clothes, bringing unknown animals, diseases, and - ultimately - death? Thanks to Kathleen and Michael Gear we now have a chance to explore the other side of the story. The one that hasn't been written by the victors, but those who lost. And honestly, it's just absolutely fascinating and exciting to be able to take this journey.

     The historical background of the trilogy is Hernando de Soto's conquest of the New World. For those of you not familiar with that part of the history, Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who became known as an excellent swordsman and horseman, famous for his many successful expeditions and conquests. He is not, however, the lead protagonist of the series. In fact, he is not a protagonist at all, he's the antagonist. Cruel, heartless, unstoppable, and brutal, he's depicted just the way the Natives saw him when he and his huge army landed in Florida in 1539. The main characters of the story are Black Shell and Pearl Hand, two Native Americans who, after witnessing their people being captured, brutally tortured and killed, dedicate their lives to fighting the Spanish army and trying to save their world.

"I'm a trader, and I know I'm ignorant when I enter a new country o meet a new people. Not knowing the customs, I beg forbearance for the mistakes I will make, and ask politely about the manners, the country, the animals, and the trails. These Kristianos, they don't think they have anything to learn from us. To them, we're little more than insects."

     The characters in this story are one of the most interesting, finely drawn characters I have ever read about. Both Black Shell and Pearl Hand are a great inspiration. They're ready to fight for their people, for their world, for their values and beliefs - even if it means putting their lives on the line and sacrificing their own happiness. They don't shy away from the fight, they never give up, they are persistent, determined,  tough, and fierce. And at the same time they're thoughtful, deeply spiritual, caring, and purehearted. They believe in balance, they value honor, they respect each other. No, they're not perfect. Not idealized. They both have their flaws, they both make mistakes - Black Shell is bold, slightly arrogant, overconfident and dangerously curious; Pearl Hand is a wild spirit, a rebellious and feminist woman. Together they make a strong, inseparable duo and I really enjoyed reading about their developing relationship. Their love fueled their actions, inspired them to do great things, gave them strength and motivation. It was beautiful.

     I can honestly say that Coming Of The Storm has been one of the best, if not THE best, historical fiction I have read by far. I might not be an expert when it comes to historical novels, but I definitely know a good book when I see it (or, should I say, read it). And Coming of The Storm was absolutely amazing. Heart-pounding, gut-wrenching, moving, often terrifying, and immensely thought-provoking. Abundant in historical details, vividly described places, and gorgeously fleshed out, relatable characters (both lead and supporting ones), its a harrowing testimony to both the ruthlessness and brutality of Spanish conquistadores; and the admirable fighting spirit and courage of the Native Americans, trying desperately to defend their land and themselves.

"Whatever the afterlife," I whispered, "give me one where my souls are judged on who I am, not who I serve."

      The amount of research the Gears undertook to complete this book is very impressive, their dedication and passion for the subject - apparent on every page. From the detailed depictions of appearances and traits, clothing and weapons; to the fabulously described cultural features, customs, spiritual beliefs and social structures - everything is superb and stunning. With their powerful and compelling prose, they bring this period of American history to vivid life. And the result is simply mesmerizing! Profound, meaningful, emotional, engaging, adventurous - Coming of the Storm is all that and more. I strongly recommend picking it up. Yes, it's a hefty book, but trust me when I say: by the time you reach the end of the first volume, you will be crushed, addicted, and begging for more. It's well worth every penny you'll spend on it!

Stop by tomorrow to read my review of Fire The Sky, the second novel in the Contact series
Stop by on Saturday to read my review of A Searing Wind, the third and final book in the Contact series!
Stop by on Sunday to read my interview with the fabulous authors and enter to win the whole trilogy!

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Evie, I've been waiting to see your review of this book after you told me about it. It sounds really interesting. Great review!

Evie said...

Hi Andrea!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my review <3 I hope you'll come back on Sunday to enter the giveaway! This is a series not to miss!!!

roro said...

great review evie
i never heard of these books b4

is the giveaway int?

Evie said...

Thank you Roro! <3
I wish it was INT but it's sponsored by the publisher, so it's going to be US/Canada only, sorry!
But do enter my other two international giveaways, ok? For Goddess Test and Goddess Interrupted and Dark Light and Half World! <3 (links in the left sidebar)

Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

Not familiar with these ones but wow now a total must read. Looks fantastic.

Unknown said...

I've never heard about this book serie but it looks amazing ;)

Anonymous said...

These authors are new to me! I enjoy reading historical fiction and learning at the same time...
Thanks, Cindi

Sallie Mazzur said...

Well, what I truly love about some books are the ability to draw me in as a reader. This cover has a women who looks completely BADASS but isn't meaning to, of course. I took a few native american lit courses in college, and this series sounds like it would be very interesting. What's great about historical fiction is that you get to re-write or learn about a culture or time that was so long ago. You'd never get to learn about it otherwise, than through the re-imaginings of authors or historians.
Anyways, great review! I love how you highlight and color block some of your phrases, I kept jumping around and seeing all these great things and I had to make myself slow down and read it through. :)

Hannah said...

Fab review! It looks awesome! I'm really intrigued by these books now. They look really good and I've always loved Historical Fiction

Denise Z said...

I have read many a historical novel and somehow have missed this part of history. Thank you for sharing today.

Unknown said...

Wow!! I had never heard of these books until now! But I will definitely look into getting them---if I don't win the giveaway! I love history...and I love historical fiction books--especially when the authors know what they're talking about! Awesome review!

Unknown said...

I love good well-researched historical fiction novel. This one sounds amazing and is going on my TBR list pronto. Thanks for the amazing review!

Denise Z said...

Thank you for your wonderful review. I have been curious about this series since I saw a post about it the other day. I love writing with actual history and lore interwoven :)

Mary Preston said...

I do love Historical reads. I'm never heard of this book before or the authors. A must read for me.

Jaime Lester said...

I wish that books like this one appealed to me. Especially when they get such good reviews. I think, now that I have stopped letting covers turn me off, maybe I should broaden my horizons a little.

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