Monday, June 15, 2009

As-I-Read-It: Zadayi Red

Zadayi Red by Caleb Fox is an unusual novel that gets lots of props for sheer originality. It is based on a Cherokee legend. Other writers may write from the framepoint of Native Americans, but I've never read any in the fantasy genre. It seems like a natural fit.

(Click the cover for a larger view.)

Actually, I'm not even sure if this is written from the point of view of the Cherokees. The people are called the Galayi, so it may be a fictional world. A Google search for "Galayi" turned up foreign links and links to Caleb Fox's website.

I am now about one quarter through the book. So far, it is mostly told through the point-of-view of Sunoya, a medicine person of great power. She has a vision in which the Cape of Eagle Feathers--a powerful tool of communication with the gods--is desecrated and powerless. Sunoya takes a trip to the spirit world to learn why the cape becomes desecrated and what can be done to restore it, or prevent it.

Her task is unclear, because the gods don't give her exact instructions on what must be done. Instead, Sunoya is given a spirt guide to help her with her task. The spirit guide is not what you might expect. And he cannot tell Sunoya the future; instead, he can only tell her what must be done. It might seem like a plot device, but even if it is, it works. The point-of-view sometimes even switches to the spirit guide, who has a distinct personality.

The point-of-view sometimes switches to the villain, who is one of the better ones I've read in a long time. He's driven by ambition and pure, blind hatred, yet he thinks he's doing the right thing. He is cruel and he is fun to hate. By a single act, he can rob Sunoya of her spirit guide and doom her to death, and he has already indicated that he plans to do it if he gets a chance. So as you you read, you know this confrontation might be coming.

So far, there's enough here to keep me reading, and I've set aside all other books. I have some nitpicky critiques, but I like to keep those until the final review. Sometimes, but the time I get to the end of a book, I've forgotten about any critiques I may have had along the way. Or, what I think is a flaw is revealed to be a clever trick on the part of the author. Since I'd rather not look like an idiot, I'll just keep silent until I'm finished.

This book is not available in bookstores until July. Here are the Amazon pre-order links (USA, UK, Canada).

What do you think of that cover? I think it's awesome.

12 comments:

Chicory said...

I agree, the cover is great. This sounds like a really interesting book.

Raven said...

This sounds like a fun one. And yes, I love the cover!

Tia Nevitt said...

And the advance reader copy I got is utterly plain. Well, there are some reeds on the cover done in shades of gray, but other than that, it's a typical cardboard ARC. Not that I'm complaining, but this cover is just awesome.

I'll let you know more about the book as I read it.

superwench83 said...

This sounds so fantastic. I've only ever heard of one other fantasy book dealing with Native American myths and legends (I've not read it, though). I'll definitely look for it at the bookstore when it comes out.

Tia Nevitt said...

I'll put up another post in a day or so. I read a little last night, but I didn't get far.

Dark Wolf said...

This sounds intriguing and interesting. And the cover art it is very catchy indeed :)

Maria said...

Strangely, I didn't like the cover. :>)

Perhaps I'm just being stubborn. Maybe it will grow on me.

Tia Nevitt said...

There's nothing strange about it, Maria! We all have different tastes, after all. I think I like the cover because I know what all the elements mean by now.

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

For American Indian-inspired Fantasy, try Jamake Highwater and Owl Goingback. Both had their debuts years ago.

Jamake Highwater seems to flesh out legends as collectors write them down. (Those collectors include himself; he's part folklorist. {Smile})

Owl Goingback... I've read a few short stories, but no novels. He captures more of the way the stories might be told around a fire than the way a folklorist would write them down. I think this might explain the humor I remember in his stories. {chuckle, Smile}

I know I've seen a few others - I have an anthology dedicated to Native American inspired fantasy - but those are the ones I found particularly memorable. {SMILE}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Debbie Reese said...

I'd avoid non-Native fantasy, and I'd definitely avoid Jamake Highwater's work. For a long time, he presented himself as a Native man but he was exposed as a fraud.

Though I haven't read his books yet, Daniel Heath Justice has three books of fantasy published. He is Native; he is Cherokee.

Tia Nevitt said...

Debbie, if I understand you right, you think that only Native American books written by actual Natives are worthy of being read.

I'm not sure I agree. These days, anyone who wrote a disrespectful account would be pilloried. And one could easily extend such a philosophy to include all cultures. I think this unnecessarily confines a writer to writing about his or her own culture. How boring would that be?

However, such an attitude seems to be widespread, because Mr. Fox and Tor are both careful to specify Mr. Fox's Native blood in his bio.

This topic might be worth another post.

Kevin said...

DEBBIE REESE:SINCE NO ONE HAS VALIDATED THE IDENTITY OR ETHNICITY OF JAMAKE'S BIRTH MOTHER, AND SINCE BOTH HIS ADOPTED MOTHER AND ADOPTED SISTER SIGNED AN AFFIDAVIT THAT THEY BELIEVED THAT HE WAS NATIVE-AMERICAN. THE MOST JAMAKE COULD BE GUILTY OF IS BELIEVING THAT HE WAS NATIVE-AMERICAN. ALL THAT HAS BEEN PROVEN IS THAT HE MADE DIFFERENT STATEMENTS ABOUT HIS LIFE HISTORY AT DIFFERENT TIMES. FOR AN ADOPTIVE HOMOSEXUAL PERSON WITH INDETERMINATE INFORMATION ABOUT HIS ORIGINS AND HIS IDENTITY... SHOULD HIS NEED TO FILL IN THE VACUUM BE SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND.