PEOPLE OF THE CANYON by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear

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A Novel of North America’s Forgotten Past, Book 26

From the publisher:

In People of the Canyons, award-winning archaeologists and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear bring us a tale of trapped magic, a tyrant who wants to wield its power…and a young girl who could be the key to save a people.

In a magnificent war-torn world cut by soaring red canyons, an evil ruler launches a search for a mystical artifact that he hopes will bring him ultimate power―an ancient witch’s pot that reputedly contains the trapped soul of the most powerful witch ever to have lived.

The aged healer Tocho has to stop him, but to do it he must ally himself with the bitter and broken witch hunter, Maicoh, whose only goal is achieving one last great kill.

Caught in the middle is Tocho’s adopted granddaughter, Tsilu. Her journey will be the most difficult of all for she is about to discover terrifying truths about her dead parents.

Truths that will set the ancient American Southwest afire and bring down a civilization.


The authors are professional archeologists and have carried their professions into their many books depicting life in bygone eras and places. Their forte is the ease in which they bring characters used in their novels to life; speaking and acting as they might have done based on the author’s knowledge of the time and place. The current book is set in the little-known Fremont culture that existed millennia ago in the American great Southwest.

A young girl is cast into the position of saving her people from falling into the hands of a despot using the area of religious beliefs to keep control of the people. Bringing out the beliefs of those living in the area and in the prehistoric time depicted the authors bring to life a society growing from hunter-gatherers to the evolution of living in towns and building cities. Their beliefs include the view of inanimate objects containing spirits that control life and death and death involving a journey to a central place where they meet with those that predeceased them and a hierarchy of shamans that can both kill and bring life back to people.

The shaman looking for consolidation of his power is seeking a pot that is reputed to contain the spirit of the most powerful witch that ever lived. Once he has this artifact, he plans to use the witch to obtain control of the people. Opposing him is Tocho, an elder who is aided by the daughter of the deceased rulers of the area. She has the legal claim to take over as ruler due to her being the rightful heir to the position.

The plot is aided by the discovery by the girl of terrifying truths about her parents. At the same time, the authors’ professional work as archeologists allows them to shape the actions and conversations of the characters in a manner that has a good possibility of being closer to the likelihood of being accurate.

6/2020 Paul Lane

PEOPLE OF THE CANYON by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear. Forge Books (June 23, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250176202. 320 pages.

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