Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Zan-Gah by: Allan Richard Shickman

    Zan-Gah is a prehistoric adventure book that  has received great reviews and many awards including the Mom's Gold Choice Award. I'm partial to historic fiction and a complete sucker for adventure reads so when I held this book in my hands I was more than ready to go.
    Zan-Gah is a coming of age story. A lion causing havoc among the people has killed a little boy, bringing the quarrelsome clans together in the hunt to kill the lion. Zan, a lanky youth is allowed to join the hunt against his worrisome mothers' wishes and to everyone's surprise, as well as his own,  Zan kills the lion. He is then given a new name, Zan-Gah.
      It is not long after his new found respect and honor that Zan-Gah embarks on a mission to find and bring back his long lost twin brother Dael. Zan's mission is filled with remorse, triumph, imprisonment, and courage.
    Allan Richard Shickman did a wonderful job creating Zan's world. I felt like I was on a safari, seeing the planes of Africa or rocky deserts of Arizona. The clans were a treat to meet and learn about, the calmer Northen clan, or the peculiar violent Hru clan. Each clan had different norms and cultures.
    Zan was a courageous young man I enjoyed getting to know. The atmosphere of the land where Zan traveled was rich with character, where the grass grew, where the hot sun scorched, where the cacti bulged with promised liquid inside. The  narrators voice felt a bit disjointed at times, leaving off phrases with exclamation points that didn't seem to fit. Almost as if it required a dramatic feel, but instead of creating it, the sentence just ended in the exclamation point. It left me puzzling over the lines to think of how I was supposed to voice it in my head.
    They occurred all over the book and so I assume it must be the voice in which the book is read, but I somehow never really got the lilt down. I enjoyed getting to know each new character, their different dynamics intrigued me I wanted to know more.
    The story was told as if at night by a campfire, everyone leaning in just a little bit to catch every word.  While the cover might be begging for something more,  Zan and his adventure held me and carried me along, I'm looking forward to reading the sequel and following Zan on his next adventure.

    Zan secretly blamed himself for Dael's disappearance. His grief struck him, not all at once, but little by little until it was a great weight on his heart. Dael was truly gone, and it seemed that Zan, like his mother, would never again be happy. It was as if an important part of himself were lost and he did not know where to look for it. Like Wumna he turned toward the sound of footsteps in hopeful expectation. Sometimes the brush of rustling leaves was enough to arrest his attention and make him look around, ready to rise in joy to receive someone--who was not there. Zan longed to share the story of the lion hunt with his brother--to show him the beautifu pelt and the spear still dark with blood. Dael did not yet know how staunchly he had faced the lioness, nor had he seen the scars of honor that were a record of Zan's bravery. He longed to tell Dael his new name, Zan-Gah, and how the great northern elder had given it to him. But mostly he wished he could throw his arm around Dael's shoulder and tell him that he was sorry.

Book Source: Review Copy from Publisher

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