Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Richard Allan Shickman

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful CountryThe prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land. (From Amazon)

As I started this novel, I was struck by the extreme sadness and madness that Zan-Gah's twin Dael suffers. Not only has he suffered two years of extreme conditions of torture and starvation that have turned this once laughing, joyous and carefree boy into a truculent, angry young man, his wife and baby die in childbirth. She was the only one that could calm him, soothe his anger, push his memories away of his time of capture.

After her death, he becomes an angry young man. Today we might have a name for his behavior. What, I'm not sure, but all he wants is war and death and when he decides to go after the Wasp people, Zan-Gah goes with him along with two other boys and Zan-Gah's wife, who has never acted like a typical woman. They do not know that their formidable uncle, Chul follows them.  They find the Wasp people all dead of disease or war and only one old woman left alive, Hurnoa.  She tries to tell what happened but she doesn't really know.  Zan-Gah urges Dael to leave her alive, she is weak and dying anyway, but his hatred is so great he kills her over night.

Because the land of the Wasp people is beautiful, food is plentiful, a lake is right there, Zan-Gah decides to put it to the elders that they should move there. They make the long and laborious trek with a few losses on the way.  When they get to the Beautiful Country, they are rewarded with the land that Zan-Gah described. But soon, camp fires appear on the other side of the lake. Dael is still unstable.  He wants to fight the Noi, the group that captured and tortured him.  He has disowned his twin and done things to make himself appear less like him.

Through all this, there are the invention of new weapons, the attempt to grow crops, the discovery of a volcano and a deep abiding love story between husband and wife.  It's also a love story between brothers and how one never gives up on the other. The story pulls you in, even if you think it won't.  Honestly, it took me a little longer to get into the story this time, but once I did, I stayed up until two am to finish it so I could find out what happened.  There is a satisfactory ending and there is definite closure.  I wouldn't mind reading more of the adventures of what goes on in the future.

Again I tried to figure out what Dael's illness was other than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it was more than that.  And I felt sorry for him because his anger was on the edge, always and you knew the torture he must have suffered was terrible.  I also tried to figure out what kind of illness could have wiped out the Wasp people.  They lived near a volcano and I wondered if something to do with that could have killed them, but Hurnoa never mentioned gas or a smell or ash, so I guess it wasn't the volcano.  I really enjoyed this novel.  It was compelling once I got into the story and I've left out much of the story.  I'd say anyone that can read the words can read this story.  It's a great prehistoric adventure novel and would be great to be included in middle grade libraries (6-9th).  It's a short novel, 151 pages and the writing is simple and flows easily from chapter to chapter.

I have signed copies but am willing to loan them to anyone that would like to read them.  My email is on my home page.  Email me with your address and I'll mail them out after the holidays.  I just ask that you post your review to Good Reads and let me know the link so I can let the publisher know.  I received these books from Earthshaker books for an honest review.  I was in no way compensated for my review.

Heather in Sandwich.


  1. i am reading this one now, heather, it's so good! i just finished the first book.

  2. The publisher told me Professor Schickman is publishing a third book, I'm assuming in this series. I'd like to know what happens to Dael. She's asked if I'd like to review it. Make sure you let her know where you reviewed it and that you'd be interested in the third one if you are.


    I love your new look and your Etsy shop!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Heather! I appreciate what you said about my blog and shop :)
    I'll definitely tell the publisher once i get my reviews posted :)


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