I am a huge fan of historical fiction and looked forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed.
Two Rivers, by Zoe Saadia, is the beginning of the Peacemaker series of historical fiction. It creates the world in which five sister nations of Native American came together to form the great Iroquois confederation that lasted for centuries.
According to history, a Great Peacemaker came from the Wyandot (Huron) people and crossed Lake Ontario to southeastern Canada. There he encountered what he had experienced with his own people, a vicious cycle of warring and retribution, which drained the tribes of their young men and their resources. Without their men, the people had less plentiful crops, meat, and other things they needed to survive the harsh winters. It was the work of the Peacemaker to join the nations, and formation of this confederation lead to the creation of a well-defined constitution, in pictographic form, which would serve in part as the basis of the US Constitution.
In this first book of the series, the reader meets Two Rivers, a man supposedly the product of a virgin birth, whose life is overshadowed by the prophesy accompanying his birth: that he is destined to achieve great things. Two Rivers is a thinker, and he is frustrated by the Elders of the tribe when he makes observations and logical suggestions for change. The tribe also has an adopted young man, Teneka, captured when his tribe raided the tribe of Two Rivers. He is now seventeen, brash, willful and outspoken, and easy to take offense and not well-liked, even by the clan which adopted him to replace one of their young men who had died.
Action begins in the first chapter, when, during a game of lacrosse, Teneka gets into a fight and seriously injures Yeentso, an older warrior and a bully from another clan. Two Rivers stands up for Teneka and the tribal council decides that Teneka must make amends for the injury by providing Yeensto’s clan with the hide of a grizzly bear. Two Rivers goes with him to kill the bear, advising but not participating. Teneka also falls in love with Seketa, a beautiful young woman from another clan who is nearly as outspoken and headstrong as she is.
Things come to a head when the Chief is killed in a raiding party and Two Rivers is blamed for not having joined in the raid but instead helping Teneka.
The author is a dedicated researcher of the early Native American peoples and her knowledge enriches this story in the everyday details of life in a village, the customs, the celebrations, their food and its sources. Her character development is wonderful and the reader is easily lost in this story, which artfully mixes fact and fiction.
I have already downloaded the second book in this story, since I did not wish to lose the characters who had made such an impression. I recommend this book without reservation. A great read!
When Zoe Saadia first recognized that both Americas have an extremely rich, diverse, fascinating history long before they were discovered by other civilizations, she also noted that this large part of history was completely overlooked, by historical fiction most of all.
After years of research and creative writing, she has written two trilogies and one series, 11 full-length novels, all covering the turbulent history of Mesoamerica when the Aztecs were busy coming to power. The Peacemaker Series of four books, of which Two Rivers is the first, deals with the creation of the famous Iroquois Confederacy, one of the oldest democracies on earth.