One of the most gripping and enjoyable science fiction novels I have read in a while.
The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R Fultz
Diving into this book about a young Native American in pre-colonial North America, I felt completely out of my depth. This is a subject that I have little to no knowledge of and felt I may be inept to review this book, as trying to compare it to Native American history would be completely lost on me and I didn’t want to come across as insensitive. It was during this thought process that I realised this is why I read books, to learn, to grow, to be informed and learn things about cultures and places I would never dream of going to. So with that in mind I bring you my review of Tall Eagle.
The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz follows the story of a young native American Tall Eagle, surging through his rite of passage to manhood. When a tribal rift threatens to destroy his people he consults the mystics who reveal a land of magic and the need to find his White Fawn (his other half). As luck would have it she has been captured by savages and is in dire need of rescue, while his best friend has turned into his biggest rival, and if that wasn’t enough, an invading army of conquerors are headed his way. Tall Eagle must rescue the White Fawn and lead his tribe into the Land beyond the Sun.
The book was, for me, a completely fresh experience. The world is rich and well detailed and the strength coming from the characters (Tall Eagle in particular) helped show this as more a detailed “This Is Your Life” story than a traditional narrative and this is highlighted through strong character development and mixing in a science fiction universe that blends well with the characters.
Tall Eagle himself is the story’s most striking character. He has sound morals and is not afraid to make mistakes and own up to them. His love and responsibility to both his White Fawn and tribe is a testament to his character and is a positive role model in both his tribe and storytelling.
The appearance of giant worms mixing with alternate dimensions, aliens and monsters, all follow the traditional science fiction rules but blending with this time and race was a risky move and it pays off. While there are some intense action and suspenseful scenes, it never relied on this to keep the story interesting. It is clear that this is a character driven story that has been carefully crafted and skilfully executed.
Fultz has this uncanny ability to paint pictures in your mind through the words on the page. The setting and characters are intricately detailed and I found myself completely immersed in this world. Blending these two worlds together pays off and introduced me to a new world and culture that I never knew I loved until reading this story.
The Testament of Tall Eagle is a triumph in storytelling, it has strong and developed characters that are likeable, believable and moral, while fusing two genres together to deliver one of the most gripping and enjoyable science fiction novels I have read in a while.
Review by Alaisdair Dewar
John R. Fultz lives in the North Bay Area of California but grew up in Kentucky. John's Books of the Shaper trilogy includes SEVEN PRINCES, SEVEN KINGS, and SEVEN SORCERERS (Orbit Books). His short story collection, THE R [...]
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