Monday, September 20, 2010

“Walker Between the Worlds”: A Review of Timekeeper II

“Walker Between the Worlds”: A Review of Timekeeper II, by John Atkinson (September 2010, Fisher King Press, ISBN: 978-1-926715-11-7

By Joey Madia

Thirteen months ago I had the opportunity to read and review Timekeeper, the prequel to this new work from author John Atkinson.

In Timekeeper II, the protagonist, Johnnyboy/Timekeeper, continues the journey begun in the first book, although, because of his vision quest on the Sacred Mountain, he can now live up to his Native American–bestowed name and unfold his tale on multiple planes and through multiple blocks of time.

This extra angle adds much to the second book, as Timekeeper, through his first-person narration, takes the reader back in time to experience events only hinted at in the first book. His experience of prejudice and intolerance from both sides of the family as a half-blood Indian are revealed in poignant vignettes, called up as Timekeeper makes a second journey in an effort to better understand his heritage and embrace his role as storyteller (complicated by the fact that he is illiterate for most of the early part of his life).

His ability to seek information through dreams and visions breaks the bounds of traditional storytelling and brings the reader across nearly a century of U.S. history as it relates to the mistreatment of Native Americans by the military and the local townsfolk. Johnnyboy’s struggle to find common ground between the traditional beliefs of his mother and the Christianity of his father’s people provides a lesson for us all.

Readers interested in Native American (specifically Sioux) ceremonies such as sweat lodge and sun dance will find the narrative particularly appealing, as will students of shamanism.

Atkinson’s prose is in fine form, with plenty more of the colorful expressions (“worshippers spread out in pews like crushed red pepper on barbequed ribs”) that made the first book such a delight to read. Although the narrative operates on multiple planes and loops back on itself numerous times from present to past, to further past, there is always a clear indication of just where we are.

As Timekeeper’s sequel came to an end, I realized that Johnnyboy, still a teenager, has plenty of stories left to tell.

I look forward to following him wherever—and whenever—he may go.

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