Promised Valley War
by Ron Fritsch
reviewed by Wendy Strain
"It began in the last sunlight of a summer day on the eastern side of the mountains at sunrise pass. Shadows were long and tapering like the claws of a raptor, a hawk the size of a god perhaps, grasping the earth and the humans living upon it as if they were helpless prey."
With lyrical description, historical era awareness and an understanding of human motivation, Fritsch brings to life a prehistoric world and the vicious rivalry between two tribes competing for resources.
The story is told primarily from the perspective of the valley people, many of whom have been raised believing their rivals, the hill people, will come and steal children away to eat for the evening meal if they don't behave. It is a believable story to the valley children as their lifestyles are so completely different from the hill people—the valley people are farmers and the hill people are hunter-gatherers.
Such a plan to keep the children apart works until Blue Sky, the primary valley protagonist, falls in love with Wandering Star, the unrecognized and exiled prince of the hill people. Wandering Star returns his affection. Though unintended, it is through the two lovers that the valley people's prince and his betrothed are kidnapped by the hill people and held for ransom. The stated demand is nothing less than complete and eternal evacuation from the valley itself.
Written with tenderness and vivid detail, this prehistoric Romeo and Juliet tale adds complexity and variety to the bard's tale as well as to the author's first novel in the series, Promised Valley Rebellion. His treatment encourages an open mind regarding human relationships, presenting homosexuality as an open and obvious, never-questioned element of social life. At the same time, his story drives forward through the increasing tensions of the two peoples at war and the two lovers at its center attempting to create peace to avoid mutual annihilation.
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