Review: Dael and the Painted People by Allan Richard Shickman


Dael and the Painted People
by Allan Richard Shickman

ISBN-13: 9-780989-035760
Published: August 2011 by Earthshaker Books
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

A prehistoric adventure, this is the third of the Zan-Gah young adult books. When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the tribe of the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it, he made a powerful enemy. Luckily, Dael had friends – including a troop of crows – and his own mystical powers. The disturbed and violent hero learns from the Children of the Earth, and from his submissive wife, a new way of life that is peaceful and generous.

Dael and the Painted People is the third book in the Zan-gah series, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first two.

The first two books are told from Zan’s point of view but this third book is all about Dael, Zan’s brother. In the beginning of the series Dael is a troubled and often times very violent character, but he slowly changes and kind of calms near the end of book two. In this story, Dael has left the Beautiful Country and his tribe the Ba-Coro along with Sparrow, a mute girl from his tribe. As they venture farther away from home, they eventually come to the land of a peaceful tribe who paints themselves all in red as a symbol of their connection with the earth. Dael and Sparrow make a home with this tribe, and with each other.

Sparrow, the tribe and Dael’s visions slowly help in changing Dael’s personality towards calm and peace. I enjoyed the way that this change was brought about – it doesn’t come all at once, but slowly over the course of the story. It’s easy to see the factors and people that help Dael to look inside and discover who he is, and who he wants to be. Allan Richard Shickman’s writing style is as beautiful as I remember from the first two books, and his writing sucks you into the story (it’s very lyrical).

The story, like the first two, is still just a collection of glimpses into Dael’s life with the Children of the Earth over numerous years. While the format works, I sometimes would have liked a bit more information or to see what was happening in between the chapters. The adventure and conflict drives the story along at a good pace and I was so happy to see enough reference back to the previous books that I did not feel the need to re-read them. The bits of information that are placed throughout the book allowed me to easily remember what events and people they were referring to, without feeling like I was getting an info dump along the lines of “previously, in Dael’s life…” All in all, Dael and the Painted People is a wonderful addition to the Zan-gah family.

ARC provided by Earthshaker Books in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

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Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
by Allan Richard Shickman
ISBN-13: 9-780979-035715
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

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.

In this sequel to Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, Zan and his people embark on a trip to move their settlement. It’s been a few years since the end of the first book, and Zan’s brother Dael is more of the focus for the narrative this time around.

I am still loving Allan Richard Shickman’s writing style. He’s very descriptive, and the story flows smoothly together from chapter to chapter. The focuses switches from Zan and Dael to other members of their community and we learn about day to day life, relationships within the community and how quickly allegiances can change during a time of hardship. The story is definitely character driven. No matter how much we knew of Zan and the rest in the first book, we learn even more with this sequel. There are some great action sequences, and I loved the commentary on a woman’s role in Zan’s community. The only aspect I wasn’t too sure on was Dael’s transformation throughout the book. It seems he very quickly switches from one extreme – anger and hate – to another. There is an almost early religious aspect to Dael’s character and story that added a new dimension to the plot.

A very well written book with great insight into the characters and community in general, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country is a perfect companion to the first novel.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to Bonnie at Earthshaker Books, and author Allan Richard Shickman.

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
by Allan Richard Shickman
ISBN-13: 9-780979-035708
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure has only begun. Pressed by love for his brother and a bad conscience, the hero undertakes a quest which leads to captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a role of leadership among his people. This dramatic and impassioned story will thrill and deeply move young adults and older readers. They will dream of Zan-Gah at night, and remember it all of their lives!

Zan-Gah is such a fun yet fearful adventure. Taking place in prehistoric times, the story follows young Zan as he becomes a man. After single-handedly bringing down a lion, Zan leaves on a quest to find his twin brother who has been missing for a while. We journey with Zan as he leaves behind everything he knows and experiences hunger, captivity, fear, and hope before returning home to lead his people.

I’m usually a big fan of dialogue. I don’t like too much straight description or introspection. I like character interaction and talking. Which means I shouldn’t have enjoyed this book – but I did. Allan Richard Shickman has a way of writing that is just so smooth and lyrical. He didn’t need any dialogue to tell Zan’s story (though there is some, of course). Each thought, emotion and action is accounted for and detailed just right.

The characters are very realt fully formed at the same time. We are told about Zan’s family, his looks, his past and habits – but we don’t know how old he is. Only that he is not yet considered a man when the story opens. We learn about his family as small details are sprinkled throughout when we need them. His brother and Lissa flit from scene to scene, the most indistinct of the characters, as the focus kept on Zan. Although we get a lot of information, the exact details are sketchy at best; it’s all more of an abstract idea of times and places. It’s an interesting way of getting you involved in the characters and their world, yet still keeping with the notion of the time period, and details being almost irrelevant. Zan lives day to day, moment to moment. It works.

Zan-Gah is a story that can be enjoyed at any age, not just young adult. It’s about growing up and becoming who you’re meant to be, something that never really ends.

I recieved this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to Bonnie at Earthshaker Books, and author Allan Richard Shickman.