cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
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Book 100

Dawn LandDawn Land by Joseph Bruchac

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is set in Pre-European America centered around the First Peoples, in particular the Abenaki of what's now New England. It has a firm root in Abenaki myth and while it doesn't call the villains of the piece the Giwakwa, ice Giants of Abenaki lore, that's pretty much what they have to be. I have not read the novel this is adapted from but I might go and look for it.

It opens when the hero of the story is just a baby. The giants attack and murder most of his family except his cousin, Weasel Tail who does not escape unscathed. One of the giants marks him with a deep cut to his chest, saying the boy will serve him later.

The tale jumps several years to when Young Hunter is a young man. Weasel Tail is slowly ostracizing himself from the tribe before they can make it official. The giant has left behind a stain of evil on the young man and as he gets to be an adult it's revealing itself, culminating in a near rape. Weasel Tail is then gone from the village.

Young Hunter, on the other hand, is assigned an almost mystical and Herculean task. He is to stop the coming evil (i.e. the return of the giants). He is given an item by an elder, told only not to reveal it and he is to go to the salmon people. Before he goes, he does spend time with Willow Girl, a childhood friend who wants to be his wife (you see where this is going).

Young Hunter faces many dangers, from the elements themselves, sabertooth tigers and other hostile tribesmen. He is shown what the tool is, not actually a spear but a more advanced weapon for distance (to give you an idea of how far back in time this is set). His only companions for much of it are three dogs until he gets to the land of the long lodge (Iroquois) and much of this goes quickly because the Iroquois language is depicted as a series of scribbles as Young Hunter doesn't know the language and thanks to the evil Weasel Tail is doing at the beck and call of the Giants, he has no friends among these people.

Obviously Young Hunter has to face the giants and his cousin has to either give completely in to the evil inside him or reject it. The ending is good though I would have liked to see him return to his village.

I enjoyed the story. I have spent decades reading and researching Native American stories and this felt like it could have been one of them. The art is interesting. It feels to fit the tail in many ways but on the flip side some of the proportions are odd and the faces very similar.

I was shocked a little by the language when he meets his 'cousins' among the Salmon people. I'm the first to tell you that graphic novels don't have to be for kids and even some of the story isn't completely kids safe (Young Hunter sleeps with at least two women for example and there is nudity but nothing that would have been outside the realm of what most likely was acceptable to these tribes at that time). However the couple of f-bombs and the derogatory use of the word 'pussy' seemed honestly out of place and jerked me out of the story.

Other than that I really liked this.



View all my reviews
Tags: graphic novel, historical fiction, native american
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