This is the cover featuring Greg Keyes' new
novel, Footsteps in the Sky.
Book Review by:
Thanksgiving in New Mexico. . .well, that's how I thought of it. Of course, it really was a photography trip with my husband and daughter. My husband, daughter, and I had taken night classes in photography at the local college; I had earned two associate degrees (in photography, of course) and looked forward to shooting at a location that I had never been to before.
New Mexico was nothing short of beautiful, as they say, "The Land of Enchantment." We spent a week driving around Northern New Mexico taking photographs in many urban settings, and landscapes, well, everywhere, Chaco Canyon included. On Thanksgiving we celebrated quietly, ate well, and relaxed. Peace and serenity enveloped us so that we really felt and appreciated the beauty and "enchantment" of the land we photographed. Being there was, indeed, something for which we could truly give thanks.
Greg Keyes novel, Footsteps in the Sky, is grounded in that Hopi culture, its people, religion and way of life. He takes the beautiful traditions of the Hopi people of New Mexico and, in a way, grafts it to a different time and place.
"The Four Worlds and the Emergence" 
As the book opens, we are transformed from readers to listeners as Keyes presents us with a beautiful Hopi story. But not just any story; it is the story of how the Hopi left this world where the people everywhere were of "two-hearts," where there existed much corruption and the people were unhappy, to make a new start on another planet.
In the oral traditions of the Hopi, such an origin story really exists. "The Four Worlds and the Emergence," tells of this traditional story:
Hopis tell stories about ancestral journeys through three worlds to the Fourth World, where the people live today. Here, Hopi storyteller Nuvayoiyava (Albert Yava) tells a story, handed down through the generations, about how people began as bugs and migrated and [evolved into people as they] migrated through the worlds." 
|This Kachina Doll|
is "Maasaw," and
was created by
Bradford Kaye. 
In their life on earth, the Vilmer Foundation was a stand in for Masaw. In a contract with the Hopi, the Hopi would travel to the new world and cultivate the land and make the surface conditions habitable; in exchange, the Hopi would get to keep the land. A hundred years later one faction of those early inhabitants looked to bring back the old way and give honor to the Kachina spirits. The other faction looks to technology and power.
One descendant, SandGreyGirl (Sand), thinks that the Kachina live somewhere beyond the stars and that the gods have been preparing a new world for the people. Even though Sand hopes that the gods live and that they are, indeed, readying a new world for the Hopi, she has her doubts.
WHAT I THINK
ABOUT THIS BOOK:
First, I have to say I was very pleased to be able to read this title through NetGalley. Even though it was originally released in 1994, I hadn't read it, yet. I am so pleased, now, because the book is specifically being released at this time, as a digital edition by Open Road Media. And, as many of you may know, I read a lot (but, certainly, not ALL) of my books on my Kindle in a digital edition format. This new release, digitally, will make it easier for many readers who require the portability that hardback and paperback editions, do not. Remember, anyone can read a digital edition on a computer or other device, not just e-readers.
So...how does anyone determine the point of view of a story? And...what the heck is the point of view of Greg Keyes' Story?
- Well, the very first thing you need to do is to disregard the dialogue in favor of focusing on the PRONOUNS in the narration. What are the pronouns used?
- In the first scene, entitled, "Farmer," we see pronouns like we, us, and our; but we also hear the speaker say, I. If you are ever faced with a situation like this, choose the first person point of view. In this story the three sisters operated as one entity; hence, the mixed up pronouns really do equal one person--at least in this section of the book.
- In part "II. Pela," we are introduced to a person named "Pela." Someone says, "Pela," and speaks of Pela as "she" and "her." For example, "Pela took a grateful breath, felt the blood throbbing in her legs and arms." We hear the speaker call Pela by name. Of course, this is third person. The speaker may call the person doing the action by their specific name, here, "Pela."
Part III is back to "Farmer," and first person while Part IV, entitled, "Hoku," the speaker addresses us saying "Hoku snarled," and "he," "him," and "his"--again third person. So what is up with the back and forth stuff? Why first person then third person? What's going on? We may find the answer by taking a closer look at THIRD PERSON.
In third person, we can ask if the narrator simply describes facts and events in a neutral way, without including the thoughts or feelings of the characters. If so, what we have is THIRD PERSON OBJEC- TIVE.
If the character's thoughts and feelings are reported by the narrator, then we can ask if the narrator is reporting on the thoughts and feelings of one character or multiple characters. If the narrator is only reporting on one person's thoughts and feelings, we have THIRD PERSON LIMITED, but if multiple characters are observed and reported upon, the narrator is said to be THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT.
Since we have the narrator making observances that are not just a neutral reporting of facts, we can eliminate Third Person Objective. Also, since the narrator is reporting about multiple characters we know we have third person omniscient. So, there we have it. Not so bad when we realize the narrator is the one speaking and can see into every character. Now, it isn't so confusing.
Another really great benefit from writing third person omniscient versus, say, first person, is that first person tends to be all about the narrator telling the audience what's happening, while third person omniscient tends more to show the action. So Greg Keyes is able to use a point of view that helps him show the action--and that is certainly what I enjoyed as the action picked up in the latter half of the book. 
While the story seems to be a story about the Hopi people, it is also a murder mystery, Star-Trek-like space exploration, and about alien beings from another world holding the power of life and death over the world. Keyes somehow, is able to also weave in spirituality, the Hopi's belief in gods, spirits, and life beyond with moments of poignancy and love; then, characters are hit with painful moments when they realize they've been betrayed. Keyes includes such varied things as tribal conflict, political power, violence, an engineered plague, and a good old-fashioned chase scene. Whew! What a ride!
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME:
As I indicated, above, I was confused a bit at the beginning of the book until I figured out what Greg Keyes was doing with the various points of view. Also, the beginning third of the book was a bit slow getting established. But given the scope of Keyes' novel, I'm not sure how else he could have accomplished that feat. I liked Keyes' writing and "story-telling," very much and find this aspect of dislike not an insurmountable obstacle. I was puzzled, how to answer the question asked of me, "What is your book about this week?" I stammered a bit, and muttered something to the effect of, "It's about the Hopi Indians in outer space colonizing a planet." Then I sighed with my lame description and launched into more detail, trying to explain. Oh, well....
Greg Keyes' Footsteps in the Sky, is a triumph of science fiction grafted onto earthly roots! It is a book that will hold you spellbound all the way to the end and one that will leave you with imprints of its footsteps in your memory. I haven't seen a book like Greg Keyes' book since I read Hugh Howey's, Wool; I loved the mystery, action, and epic quality conveyed by the novel. The use of voice in conveying an authenticity of the culture of the characters was nothing short of brilliant. Thank you, Greg Keyes. Thank you, Open Road Media.
Thank you for joining me this week as we got to look at an exciting new e-book release of Greg Keyes', Footsteps in the Sky. I hope you enjoyed reading about this exciting new e-book and and I want to thank you for your time and attention to this blog post. Next week we will look at a new book and see what the pages have in store for us.
Until next time . . .
|This flower is a double, white Rose of Sharon. |
My very best to you,
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[*] "NetGalley." netgalley.com. Retrieved 05-15-15.