Rick — Changed the way I think
"This is a creative first novel by someone who must have thought very hard about what he wanted to write. It has completely changed the way I think about Native Americans. Set among the high plains Indians in the days before direct contact with whites, it explores the complex relations between the Native Americans themselves. Horses have appeared, and metal knives, but the talk of a far away race with pale skins and hairy faces is still only a rumor. Yet change is occurring, as the acquisition of horses alters the balance of ancient societies in much the same way as contemporary technological advances are altering the balance of modern ones. This tension between rapid change and traditional Native American values is one of the books two main themes. The other theme is wisdom acquired by a close study of the natural world. This study prepares the novel's protagonist, a young warrior, for his "vision quest" and for the resulting profound effect he will have upon the tensions within his band."
Frustrated filmmaker — Powerful and Engaging
"I had the opportunity to get my hands on an Advanced Readers Copy of Spirit Wolf. I can’t remember ever reading a novel with such engaging characters, and where I was transported into a world of simple, yet profound struggles for a coming-of-age boy. Set in the mid-1700s in an American Indian Plains clan, I was immediately caught up in their tribal customs, many of which are so counter to how we live in our world today.
Michael O. Gibbs has discovered a new way to take a reader and immerse them into a rarely-seen culture. His personal skills as a professional tracker of humans and animals leaps off the page time and again as you scale mountains, cross wide valleys, and come across all manner of beasts and enemies.
This is a story that will stay with you for some considerable time.
Jan Bernard Stolz
"An interesting and fascinating story that I finished in one sitting. The Native Americans come across as real people, not stereotypes; the story is engaging and unpredictable and keeps one's attention right until the end. I hope this is just the beginning of an entire series."
A good story! Sort of a combination nature and rite-of-passage tale, about a Plains Indian youth in the late pre-white-contact era of the 1700's. Gibbs has a talent for describing what was important to learn as a young Plains Indian: his relationship to others in and outside of the band, his place in the social structure, necessary warrior & hunter skills, and respect for the earth. But it isn't dry at all; lots of action, interspersed with the protagonist's musings and observations of the natural world around him, as he spends time with his foster mother and unique warrior witch-woman Kills-in-the-Dark, and also Spirit Man, a wise outcast who prepares him for his vision quest and trains him up for adulthood. The living-in-nature aspects comprise some of the best parts. (I wish we had more of that these days, as we can barely train our kids to work at McDonalds, nature is something seen on a screen, and we "civilized" people drag the planet, in a money-grubbing frenzy, towards various mass extinctions, probably one of which includes ourselves.)
Gibbs also does a pretty good job with interpersonal relations; the dialog rings true, and there is some good humor to be found there; probably the author's effort to portray Native Americans as not all glum and one-dimensional, as they tend to be portrayed in movies. They say one sign of good fiction is that you reach the end, and don't want it to end; you like the characters so much, that you don't want to leave them and their world. Gibbs book passes this test, and as this is apparently only the first book about the subject, I find myself hoping for more, with even more fleshed-out characters and subplots. The book could have been longer, it was over too soon (lol)!
Spirit Wolf is a vibrant tale of an orphaned fifteen-year-old Native American boy learning how to survive on the Great Plains in the 1700s. The author delves into the sociological dynamics of tribe life in such a subtle manner that it is woven into the underlying fabric of the story. On the surface, you’re reading the story of a boy, but you’re also getting an eye-opening look into human behavior.
Spirit Wolf brings the past to life with vivid descriptions and detailed historical world building. The author’s knowledge of the subject matter is evident throughout, leaving the reader with a rewarding sense of authenticity.
This is a great story that takes the reader into the American-Indian world of the 1700's.
Romuald Demo - Readers' Favorite
Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is a dazzling story set against a warrior culture of the mid1700s on the Great Plains; a story that features great characters and invaluable lessons for life. What does it take to be a man and a warrior? What are the laws for survival? What is true leadership? These are questions that are brilliantly answered in this tail. The reader follows the life of a fifteen-year-old Native American boy who goes to live in the wilderness for fear of the threat to his life from a powerful adversary. But in the mountains, a hermit will open his eyes to great knowledge, modeling on the behavior of animals.
The story starts with intense action; a dramatic incident of murder has greatly disturbed the peace of the land. "The warrior, Fox Belly, was clubbed to death and his wife, Crow Woman, was forcibly dragged away to the killer's hovel. By nighttime, Crow Woman was rescued and the killer condemned to banishment, but no social issue involving the odd Tall Rabbit had ever been resolved that simply." Having introduced readers to some of the key characters, the author drops a bombshell that creates one of the conflicts that will dominate this story.
The writing is gorgeous, and readers will undoubtedly enjoy the lyricism in the style and the symbolism. the plot moves very fast, punctuated with reflections about life that are eye-opening. Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs might read beautifully, fast and entertaining, but it is one of those books with multi layers, just like the Alchemist of Paulo Coelho.
Divine Zape - Readers' Favorite
Spirit Wolf is an exciting story with a beautiful setting against the Great Plains, featuring a culture of the Indians before their first contact with the whites. It is a coming-of-age story that mirrors the way of life of the people and a young man's path to maturity.The story leads a fifteen-year-old to an encounter with an old hermit, a man filled with wisdom and experience, who will open the boy's eyes about the path of philosophy of life and war. Readers will enjoy the way the people relate to nature and to one another, and how their communities are structured and the unspoken laws that govern them.
I was pulled in from the very beginning, which I think was dramatic and laced with conflict. From then on, the author leaves the reader no moments respite as he provokes a surge of powerful emotions through the beautiful prose, the prowess of great storytelling, and the pacing. The plot is well-woven, incorporating different literary styles — symbolism, suspense, humor and contrast. The narrative voice is powerful enough to keep the reader enraptured throughout the story. I enjoyed the way the conflict develops.
From the first page, readers are introduced to an eccentric man who keeps to himself, a loner who later commits a grave crime by killing a warrior. The conflict within the protagonist, the psychological conflict is equally explored in unusual ways. Sprit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs offers great entertainment and powerful lessons as well, a well-crafted story that will leave any reader pining for more.
Ruffin Osorio - Readers' Favorite
Spirit Wolf is a coming-of-age story with a great setting and compelling characters. Set in the 1700s, this story immerses readers in the world of the Native American Indians before their contact with white skinned americans. The author depicts a powerful world of the Great Plains, showing a community of people with a way of life. In this setting, a young boy's life is threatened. At fifteen, he has to leave for safety. While in the wilderness, he is tutored by a man who seems to be a loner, a man with a lot of experience and wisdom.
This is a story that doesn't only portray the way of life of the Indians before modernity, but one that proposes a powerful philosophy modeled around the laws of life and what we could learn from nature and animals. It is interesting to watch the young warrior as he grows in wisdom and strength. Michael O. Gibbs is a great writer, with a gift for descriptions and dialogue. The descriptions are very clear and they create a world where the reader can find himself or herself walking side by side with the characters. The dialogues read naturally and the characters are real, even if they are pulled from a culture few readers will be familiar with.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition between humans and animals, and how some animals can be role models in the way we think and relate with others. The plot is well-thought out with a lot to keep the reader focused, interested, and entertained. It is fast-paced and the suspense is biting.
Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel is the kind of story you finish before you're aware you even started. A work of great beauty.
Benjamin Ookami - Readers' Favorite
Lion Hunter is a young brave living amongst the Wolf Ridge people. After his father's death, his mother has no choice but to go into exile, but before she does that, she goes to a witch named Kills-In-The-Dark and asks her to take care of Lion Hunter. Lion Hunter's path towards becoming a man and a warrior amongst his people starts with the witch and an old man who lives by himself in the wilderness. This old man is Spirit Man and he will teach Lion Hunter about the ways of the animals and the history behind his witch mentor's name so that he can become a great leader amongst his people. While he learns from the old man, the time for him to go on his vision quest approaches.
Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs takes readers into a world in which a warrior from one tribe feels obligated to not only protect his people, but also to take from a trespassing warrior from another tribe. Kills-In-The-Dark is as scary as ever when readers first meet her, but for the reader who climbs into Lion Hunter's mind, there is much to admire about this witch.
The part I enjoyed the most was Lion Hunter's time in the wilderness with Spirit Man. He learned some shocking truths concerning his mentor, came face to face with a mighty big animal, and adopted better ways to hunt. A story about a young Indian orphan in a world and time before America's discovery couldn't have been more enjoyable.
I am only on page 37, too early to review. Difficult to master Indian names, so far fascinating!
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is the story of a warrior boy who was alone, but he found leadership, companionship, and family with two strangers. The story is set in the 1700s in the pre- white settlers tribal era where the social structure of the people living in tribes was based on the elders. The politics and the social pressures are still the same though. We see everything through the eyes of a 15-year- old boy who is destined for great things. He meets a one-eyed witch/medicine woman who he does not trust, but he has great respect for her. When their lives are threatened by the chieftain, the boy secretly moves to the wilderness where he meets with a man who teaches him very important lessons in life. These lessons will help him become the man and the leader his people need him to be. But during this, he learns the lessons of trust, of friends, of family, and the importance of having people in your life who care about you.
I loved reading this novel for many reasons. One of those reasons is that Gibbs wrote a wonderful coming of age novel with great characters. Another reason I liked the novel is because the story talks about some great values. The hero learns to live his life with the help of his two mentors. Even though he does not like the medicine woman at first, he comes to care about her and even love her. This was a great experience, definitely one of the best novels I read in 2016. It is really well written and I love the cover.
Reviewed by Paul Dolan (no rating given)
Wow, what an awesome story, the way Mr. Gibbs describes the details is an obvious indicator he has a deep knowledge of the history of Native Americans and animal behavior. It really takes you back in time and gave me even more appreciation for the people who endured during that time in human history. I will not look at nature the same and could not put the book down. If you like Native American stories and nature, this is a must read.
Bob Giel, Author. Western Writers of America (no rating given)
"Spirit Wolf" by Michael O. Gibbs is the most exhaustively prepared coming-of-age novel I have ever read. It is a simple, yet involved tale of an orphaned Native American teen who is taken in by a hermit-like witch who not only helps him to survive but teaches him to thrive. Ultimately, all the events experienced by the youthful Lion Hunter prior to his vision quest groom him and lead him to his test of manhood.
It is a testament not only to Mr. Gibbs' story telling abilities but to his extensive knowledge of the outdoors, animal behavior and human reaction. The story comes alive with memorable characters, vivid writing, exquisite description and a relentless drive that carries Lion Hunter from a young brave to a respected warrior through death defying trials.
While the story takes place in the mid-1700's, Mr. Gibbs seems almost to write from personal experience, an ability gained, no doubt, from his many years of wilderness survival training and extensive research and study of the Native American cultures. The only drawbacks to this work that I noted were a few misspelled words and missing punctuation which tend to befall us all. I would expect these would have been corrected before publication.
I highly recommend "Spirit Wolf" for its drama, its intensity, its rugged, picturesque settings, its mystical qualities and its interaction between man, animal and nature.