As the brothers embrace their journey, with Alan making a “sacrifice” of his wristwatch and eventually letting years pass, Martin digs deep into the tribe’s beliefs, practices, and history. Martin writes for an audience interested in wisdom and discovery rather than brisk plotting, but he offers strong scenic detail and a storyteller’s flair, even when devoting some fifty pages to the tribe’s origin story. (Martin makes clear that, while sharing some connection to the Ojibwe, Makwa’s tribe is an original invention.)
Among them, James encounters temptation in the beautiful Winona, who can see he yearns to kiss her but warns “I can’t betray my people.” She does, though, encourage him in a quest: to catch Maashkinoozag, the giant muskie fish his grandfather encountered. Martin finds tension and lessons for living throughout, though the novel’s protracted length, unhurried pace, and dreamlike atmosphere will appeal mostly to an audience of dedicated seekers. Garish digital illustrations generated with the aid of AI don’t add much, and their emphasis on lithe nude Native women will further limit the audience.
Takeaway: Searching, epic-length novel of a bereft Marine in a lost indigenous village.
Comparable Titles: Robert Owings’s Call of the Forbidden Way, Carlos Castaneda.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-