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Storyteller #1

Song of the River

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Returning to the harsh and breathtaking landscape she so vividly recreated in her bestselling Mother Earth, Father Sky, author Sue Harrison brings us the first book of her remarkable Storyteller Saga. It is the tale of Chakliux, abandoned as a baby to die on the Arctic ice, only to be rescued and raised to manhood by K'os, a cold and cunning woman seeking vengeance on the men who defiled her. At the age of twenty, Chakliux occupies an honored place as his tribe's storyteller, and is sent to a neighboring enemy village to secure the peace by marrying the shaman's daughter. But a shocking double murder sets the storyteller on an extraordinary journey across the frozen wastes in search of the strange truth about the offenses for which his people have long suffered..and about the hateful, scheming woman who raised him, who may turn out to be his most dangerous enemy.

589 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Sue Harrison

29 books237 followers
Sue Harrison is the author of six critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling novels. Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind make up The Ivory Carver Trilogy, an epic adventure set in prehistoric Alaska. Song of the River, Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars comprise The Storyteller Trilogy. Sue’s young adult book, SISU, was released by Thunder Bay Press .

Sue Harrison was born in Lansing, Michigan. The first of five children, she was raised in the town of Pickford in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where she lives with her husband, a retired high school principal. They are blessed with a daughter and a son, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

A graduate of Pickford High School, Harrison graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. She was named Lake Superior State University’s Distinguished Alumna in 1992, and served eight years on the university’s Board of Regents.

Harrison’s first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, was published in 1990 by Doubleday (hardcover) and Avon (paperback). It was nominated in the states of Michigan and Washington for the Reader’s Choice Award among high school students, and was one of ten books chosen for “Battle of the Books,” a statewide student reading competition in Alaska. The novel as had success in both the adult and young adult markets, and was a national bestseller. It was selected by the American Library Association as one of 1991′s Best Books for Young Adults.

Harrison’s second novel, My Sister the Moon, (Doubleday/Avon 1992) has also received recognition by reading and school groups throughout the United States and was a Baker and Taylor top ten in library sales. Both Mother Earth Father Sky and My Sister the Moon were Main Selections of the Literary Guild Book Club and alternate selections of the Doubleday Book Club. Brother Wind, Harrison’s third novel was released in hardcover by William Morrow, October 1994, and in 1995 as an Avon paperback. The novel was chosen as an alternate selection by both the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Song of the River and Cry of the Wind were both published by Avon Hardcover/Avon paperback, a division of Hearst Books. The third book of The Storyteller Trilogy, Call down the stars was published by Morrow/Avon in 2001 and 2002. It was featured alternate of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs.

Harrison’s books have also been published in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Japan, France, Finland, and South America.

Harrison is represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. She is currently writing women’s contempory fiction for the inspirational market.

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5 stars
517 (42%)
4 stars
404 (33%)
3 stars
235 (19%)
2 stars
39 (3%)
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12 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 69 reviews
Profile Image for Ester Pablos.
Author 8 books24 followers
January 6, 2021
En realidad un 4'5. Es una historia peculiar, tanto en el contenido como en la forma. Lo que más me gusta es la prosa de Sue Harrison, que es colorida pero directa y consigue generar interés por las pequeñas cosas. Salta de unas localizaciones y personajes a otros para mantener el interés, la intriga y mostrarte distintos personajes secundarios. Para personas que no están acostumbradas a historias contadas con múltiples perspectivas, puede resultar lioso. No obstante, se le da bien mantener el suspense, y aunque la historia se desarrolla con lentitud, permite un acercamiento profundo a los personajes, las relaciones entre ellos, sus costumbres y su cultura. El objetivo del libro es más mostrar las semejanzas entre distintos pueblos, pero también los conflictos que surgen por las ansias de venganza, los celos o la necesidad. La ambientación es magnífica (y no es para menos, pues se nota que la autora ha invertido varios años en el estudio de los pueblos prehistóricos de Alaska).
Me alegro de haber encontrado este libro (y aunque sé que tiene continuación, he comprado otra trilogía de la misma autora) ya que son historias independientes, al estilo de los Pilares de la Tierra.
Un gran descubrimiento.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
920 reviews590 followers
September 1, 2013
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Though Sue Harrison was first published in the eighties, my recent experience with Song of the River marks my first encounter with her and her work.

To begin with, I was really drawn to Harrison's depiction of storytelling and the importance of oral traditions in the time before written language. During his travels, Chakliuk often notes the varied cultural differences between each of the villages, but in so doing he also highlights the similar belief systems and how each community is strengthened and maintained through stories that connect their present, the past and the future. Maybe it's just me, but I thought this approach intensely creative.

Harrison's talent is also evidenced in the makeup of her characters, a concept particularly recognizable in K'os. Bitter, resentful, cold and calculating, she doesn't garner much admiration or sympathy. Like Chakliuk and Aqamdax, readers can relate to her, but through this character, Harrison offers readers a rare opportunity to explore the idea of prolonged malice and its affect on human nature.

Though it is impossible to know the exact details of any pre-historic culture, I was further impressed by the believably of Harrison's depiction of how these people might have lived. The seemingly mundane details - their clothing, the social hierarchy, the types of food they ate and the goods they traded for - meshed together in such a way that I felt very comfortable accepting the fictional portrait she created without wasting time agonizing over the truth of her descriptions.

To sum up, Song of the River is an imaginative, character-heavy story that envelopes readers in a world that is both foreign and familiar. A bit drawn out in places, but intriguing none the less.
Profile Image for Sarah.
202 reviews18 followers
March 22, 2016
I have a hard time giving low ratings. I'm fairly selective with what I read, so most of the things I choose to read, I like, and rate at 3- or 4-stars - except during Peace Corps, when I read whatever I could get my hands on and liked it because I was grateful for another window to another world. Sue Harrison is a very learned author and I very much respect her work. Her first trilogy, the Ivory Carver Trilogy, has stayed with me for a decade, a worthy series to accompany Jean Auel's. Harrison illuminated ancient Aleutian culture in a beautiful way, and her main characters exuded quiet strength, against many adversaries. My two-star rating for the start of this new trilogy, is only in comparison to the first trilogy. It is set several generations AFTER the first trilogy. Perhaps it is only because these new characters haven't become as familiar to me as Chagak, Kayugh, Kiin and Samiq have become. Instead of men grappling for power and prestige, we have two female characters, K'os and Red Leaf, grappling for revenge and a husband, to the point of war between villages. Harrison remarks that she intended the story to be a commentary on "the human weaknesses which precipitate war." In that sense, it was a successful story. However, the human weaknesses overpowered the strong storytellers. I'll read the next two books, to see what happens to the storytellers, Chakliux and Aqamdax; one other message in this book was clear - stories have the power to fill us up, give us strength and teach us lessons.
Profile Image for Rena Jane.
268 reviews11 followers
September 28, 2010
This was a fun read. It is kind of a saga, involving the stories of several generations of a family and their struggle to survive in the frozen north.

Harrison's portrayal of people, their motivations and behaviors is realistic and gripping. And descriptions of the land seem pretty accurate. All in all, this is an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jacqui.
Author 66 books183 followers
February 16, 2019
Sue Harrison's Song of the River (Open Road Media 2013), Book 1 of the Storyteller Trilogy, takes place around present day Iliamna Lake in Alaska, about 6500 years ago. Two tribes who have historically been friendly find themselves on the verge of war. Chakliux, born with webbed feet, abandoned as a child but now honored as the tribe's storyteller, is believed to have special abilities so takes it upon himself to travel from his home village to the neighboring one with the goal of stopping the fighting before people are killed. But, while there, several people are stabbed to death, an unusual occurrence and for people who worry about taboos and symbols, enough to make them suspicious that Chakliux brings bad luck. But It's a lot more complicated. Behind the scenes, Chakliux's adopted mother K'os is pursuing her own goals and she doesn’t care who is hurt in the process.

Harrison writes with the depth of knowledge found in other incomparable prehistoric fiction writers like Kathleen Gear and Linda Lay Shuler:

"The lodge poles were crowded with the skins of sacred animals—white least weasels, flickers, marmot and beaver, and many wolverines."

"It was sea otter, she was sure, with a ruff of wolverine fur and cuffs banded with caribou hide, scraped and softened until it was almost white. The back of the parka came down in a wide pointed tail of some strange spotted skin, a stiff-haired pelt unlike any K’os had ever seen."
Quickly,  I felt that I knew these people, understood their customs and desires. The plot though interesting was almost inconsequential when weighed against the opportunity to explore life long since gone in a frozen world that seems uninhabitable. It is no surprise Kirkus Reviews said this:

"Harrison once again displays her first-rate storytelling talents, here in a rousing tale of murder, revenge, and internecine warfare." --Kirkus Reviews

This is Harrison's second prehistoric fiction trilogy. The first--The Ivory Carver Trilogy--was critically-acclaimed for its drama, reality, and atmosphere.  Mother Earth Father Sky from the trilogy became a national and international bestseller, and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, In the small world of prehistoric fiction authors (here's a short list of writers in that genre), Harrison stands out as one of the most respected. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries.
221 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2019
I used to really love this kind of book, I don’t know why that has changed. The book was not bad just not my favorite kind of story any more. I will finish the series though
Profile Image for Vivian Ann.
94 reviews4 followers
July 25, 2012
The Storyteller Trilogy in order - 1.Song of the River 2.Cry of the Wind
3.Call Down the Stars - Beautiful , lovely , I couldn't stop until I read the whole trilogy and am happy I did ! Take it from me if your tired of the same ole same old,then try this trilogy by Sue Harrison or the Ivory Carver Trilogy also By Sue Harrison.
Profile Image for Mindy.
12 reviews
January 31, 2008
This isn't the same characters but it is still an excellent book. It has references to the characters and is about indian storytellers.
Profile Image for Sue Johnson.
7 reviews
March 5, 2008
Although I read this book long ago, it has stuck in my mind as being an epic novel on the courage that an ancient woman had to possess in order to survive.
35 reviews2 followers
August 4, 2011
I want to finish the series. I love reading about the Early Native Americans and their way of life. Good author.
Profile Image for Wendy.
35 reviews
June 25, 2012
Along the lines of Clan of the Cave Bear. The names were a bit overwhelming and slowed me down at first. Decent pool-side read.
Profile Image for Raro de Concurso.
479 reviews2 followers
November 25, 2021
Libro muy curioso por muchos motivos y muy diferente a lo que esperaba y a otros relatos del mismo corte (ficción prehistórica).

Lo primero que tengo que señalar es que Sue Harrison se ha debido empapar de la cultura inuit (de lo que queda) y de los datos prehistóricos que se han recopilado hasta ahora. De hecho, da la impresión después de terminar el libro, que ella se dijo "me he estudiado todo ésto a fondo, y me gustaría transmitirlo de una forma no académica. Cómo lo hago? Ah, pues en una novela cuya base sea la credibilidad histórica". Y la verdad es que lo ha conseguido, no sólo describiendo la forma de vida de los pobladores del estrecho de Bering de hace 9000 años, si no usando parte de su lenguaje y dando una importancia grande a sus tradiciones orales (como el uso de acertijos). O sea, que un 10 en veracidad y afán educativo.

La parte de ficción no es espectacular. Pero para bien. Porque a pesar de que cuenta una trama compleja, que abarca varias estaciones y un puñado de poblados o etnias diferentes, no cae en los heroísmos, ni en las luchas a muerte entre osos y humanos, ni en las grandes gestas. Aquí sales de la tienda de noche en plena tormenta de nieve, porque la carne de foca de la cena te ha sentado mal, y como te descuides ya no vuelves. Sin más que contar.
Además hay mucho sexo, porque es considerado una forma de expresión social. Mucha libertad, para bien y para mal, pero sin el concepto negativo que le han querido dar las religiones modernas. Eso sí, que nadie busque escenas tórridas, que estamos en el círculo polar ártico y ahí la coyunta es seca y dura como el bacalao congelado.
Y por si fuera poco, también es un libro inclusivo. Porque no hay transgéneros, ni cistrans, ni no binarios, pero sí un niño que nace con unos cuantos dedos de los pies pegados y casi se lo cargan nada más nacer por bicho raro. Y ese niño especial va a llevar una vida un poco movida, pero acabará siendo aceptado en todos y cada uno de los pueblos con los que viva.
Y qué más? Pues la autora ha querido poner énfasis también en lo que ya todos sabemos: que la combinación del ansia de poder, la ignorancia y las malas personas suele desembocar en tragedias fútiles e innecesarias, en las que pagan los más inocentes.

Así que si te gustan las historias de naturaleza y coincidiendo con que ahora viene el frío, éste es tu libro. Y ya está bien. Que ya va siendo hora de airear las pieles de dormir, porque el concepto "huele a chomino de pingüino" estaba llegando a cotas nunca conocidas.
Profile Image for Miriam Cihodariu.
577 reviews116 followers
October 27, 2021
I won't forget this series very soon. It's one of the best Neolithic fiction pieces I've ever encountered, and it shows how much research went into it, both into the material culture and the traditions of the peoples depicted.

At first, you may be tempted to think that the story is a bit too simple, too black-or-white, but if you read the explanations given by the author at the beginning/ending of the three books, you understand that this is actually part of the traditional storytelling style of Aleut people. In fact, as you go on reading, you will see that there's a great wealth of details and vividness that make the characters and the story come alive. There's nothing that feels unplausible or too black and white after a while.

The mix of native words (especially in the names) into the text can make it a bit difficult to read, but thanks to the story it still flows easily. I finished all three books in no time and I'm just sorry there wasn't more.
353 reviews
May 23, 2017
Pretty good book - I did not expect it to be good - but it was actually pretty good - and now I'm starting book 2. The only thing about it that was a little.. uncomfortable - was that there was no way to keep me "in time"... yes - I heard about the continual references to Parkas... but neither were there long months of darkness (except one single reference to the short night - once)... nor were there long stretches of sunshine. The winters felt as warm as the summers (both cold)...
and the time could as easily have been 1980 Alaska or Greenland as it was - whenever this was supposed to be. The technology for living in the cold has not changed much... so there is no significant difference.
But - aside from these little bits of temporal confusion it was a good story that held my attention well enough for long drives.
on to book 2
Profile Image for Christine Dosa.
51 reviews11 followers
January 18, 2018
I love Sue Harrison's writing. I think she is better researched and more clever at plotting than Jean Auel, to whom she is often compared. I read her previous trilogy and was gratified to see she has another, though this book sat on my shelf for a couple of years before I finally picked it up. The trilogy is probably completed by now. Chikliux is a character I want to follow, as is Aqamdax. They lived more than 6000 years ago in Alaskan islands in the Bering Sea. Harrison shows us how they lived, in great detail and authenticity, but doesn't for a minute let us believe that, though they lived a life without media and "things", that they didn't have jealousies and anxieties, dreams and goals. Her characters are complex and their lives fascinating.
Profile Image for Cindy O.
128 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2017
This trilogy set in ancient Alaska is wonderful. The details of the people and their lives made me feel that I was right there. I could breath the air-filled smoke inside the caribou hide homes. I could feel the cold along with the weight of the woman’s packs. I could hear the dogs barking. I ached for the women who’s hands were crippled from the sewing and work they did. I loved how the author weaved the times and stories together. I was upset when the people were upset and felt joy for them when times were good.
I recommend this series. Take your time and let the stories absorb you and give you a glimpse into life long ago.
Profile Image for Juan  A. Lavin .
43 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2019
Mi lectura n°100, aunque no es algo muy relevante me gustó que le haya tocado a esta escritora que con su anterior trilogía leída cuando era un jovencito, me motivo, para que sea el lector que soy hoy. En la Canción Del Río volví a revivir ese mundo prehistórico de los habitantes de las islas Aleutianas y una historia que me mantuvo expectante todo el tiempo. Además se nota que Sue Harrison ha investigado mucho sobre las vidas de estás personas, logrando una obra histórica confiable. Cerrando, logra lo que más me gusta en una lectura, trasladarme a otro tiempo, otras vidas y ser testigo de ello.
Profile Image for Maggie.
Author 20 books258 followers
January 22, 2018
Storyteller is right--because that's what Sue Harrison is. She kept me turning pages, looking forward to the next time I'd get to sneak in a chapter, and forcing myself to bookmark although I kept wanting to read when the clock said it was sleepy time. The story took all kinds of twists and turns I never expected. As always, Sue's writing transported me back in time. I was in the villages, watching the people and out at sea in the kayak. There is love, betrayal, war, and culture all rolled into a magnificent story.
556 reviews14 followers
March 18, 2019
This book encompasses everything about how life was probably lived hundreds of years ago in the frozen places of Alaska. The characters are totally believable with their traits of hospitality to their suspicions of outsiders and their total belief in gods and spirits who could be displeased very easily. These small groups, although separated in distance, when meeting do interact and exchange knowledge but also dangerous animosities surface at times. A thoroughly engrossing story that does not disappoint.
Profile Image for Rondi Olson.
Author 1 book97 followers
July 2, 2017
You don't have to read the first series by this author to appreciate this book, but it doesn't hurt. SONG OF THE RIVER has it's own set of strong characters, an intriguing mystery, and hopeless love story, but it was fun seeing some of the same settings as in the IVORY CARVER trilogy, as well as hearing the storytellers speak of the "ancient ones" who we know so well.

If you enjoy prehistory and especially if you liked the IVORY CARVER trilogy, a must read.
Profile Image for Beverly.
847 reviews12 followers
April 5, 2018
This book wasn't really for me. The stilted writing style tried to make the story feel more native and old, but I found it annoying. I never really felt anything for any of the characters and didn't really care who lived or died. I did manage to finish the book, but I don't think I will be searching for other works by this author.
79 reviews
August 28, 2020
Not sure I could get into the 'time era' of this Novel, but it is a great story. People over thousands of years have not really changed all that much.... love, forgiveness, regrets, revenge, power struggles...
Hope to read the next book to see what adventures these characters find themselves dealing with.
Profile Image for Cait S.
908 reviews70 followers
March 2, 2022
DNF at chapter 4. I actually was really enjoying it and can see why it's so popular. The massive character list just was not clicking in my brain. I couldn't keep all the characters straight and kept having to flip back and re-read, trying to remember who was related to who and how. It was just too frustrating for me personally.
15 reviews
March 7, 2023
Loved it! Not only was this gripping tale a page turner of entangled mysteries, myths and motives of an incredible people with deep and meaningful customs and lives, I delighted in the many sweeps across the ancient Alaskan Peninsula from deep sea to mountain top and back again.
Profile Image for Snickerdoodle.
752 reviews11 followers
March 16, 2023
This is a prehistory story so the stories and customs are mostly imagined, combined with known or assumed history of early people. It’s interesting to try to imagine the lives of people this long ago.
19 reviews
September 6, 2017
I thought it was amazing because it tells about a woman that found and adopted a baby and then raised her so now the girl can know the song of the sea and the river.
Profile Image for Dana Mitchell.
3 reviews
November 21, 2019
I loved it, but I'm excited to see what happens next! She always makes the love stories wait and it's hard but always worth it in the end! :D
Displaying 1 - 30 of 69 reviews

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