Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
by Allan Richard Shickman
Well past the middle of the night Zan felt a shaking of his shoulder as he slept, and then an impatient foot kicking at him. Instinctively grabbing for his spear, he looked up and saw the orange glow of a torch, and as his eyes adjusted to the invading light he recognized his brother's ghastly face. Dael's dangerous brow was furrowed, and the vein of his forehead bulged under the old scar. His teeth were clenched, and his eyes darted nervously back and forth. His every motion expressed a profound agitation, and Zan knew that what he had been dreading had come.
"It is time, Zan. Let us go!"
"Where? It's dark!"
"I want to find where the river comes from."
The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them. (taken from back cover copy)
Again Shickman draws readers into the turbulent prehistoric world of Zan-Gah and his Ba-Coro tribe. Since rescuing his brother, Zan-Gah has continued to be treated as a leader. After Dael's wife dies, his grief drives him almost to madness. As thoughts of revenge on all those who had previously wronged him, including his once beloved twin, Dael becomes another leader, causing those who follow him to question breaking their tribe apart for good.
This fast paced, easy to read book includes love, betrayal, jealousy, courage, inventiveness, and fanaticism, making for an exciting read. Each character grows in interesting ways and many concepts about right and wrong, good and evil, are explored.
A good pick for a middle school reader looking for some excitement! Readers do not even have to start with the first book. Enough is recapped in this one that it is not necessary, though it would be recommended.
Full disclosure: Received from publisher for review.