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Set in the 1300s largely in what is now Alabama and Mississippi, this complex novel tracks three wanderers' quest to create peace in violent times. The Sky Hand people control their territory from Split Sky City (Moundville, Ala.), ruled by scheming chief Flying Hawk and his ruthless nephew, war chief Smoke Shield. While they plot to suppress the enslaved Albaamaha people and to conquer their neighbors, three people pursue a mission to restore peace. Old White is a prophet and "the most dangerous man alive"; Trader is a man with blood on his hands and a stunning secret; Two Petals is a shaman woman who says and does everything backwards. Together this curious trio must bring down Flying Hawk and Smoke Shield. The story is loaded with early Native American lore, spirituality, economics, government and daily life; however, it is not for the squeamish, as it also contains plenty of blood and gore, hideous torture, rape and chilling cruelty. Still, blended with the carefully drawn suspense of court intrigues, colorful characters and sharp plot twists, this is a terrific tale. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.