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Sun Born    by Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear order for
Sun Born
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sun Born, by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, is the second in their Morning Star trilogy, that centers on the Cahokian civilization, a great power in ancient North America, whose huge capital was somewhere near modern St. Louis. Though I missed the first book, People of the Morning Star, I was able to catch up quickly and enjoy this sequel.

The inhabitants of Cahokia believe that their divine hero Morning Star has been resurrected in the body of Chunkey Boy, brother to Lady Night Shadow Star. She has her own connection to divinity through Spirit creature Piasa. And she has taken as slave (and sworn bodyguard) Fire Cat, who killed her beloved husband - they fight their strong attraction to each other. As the story opens, Night Shadow Star is summoned to the underworld and warned by First Woman, of coming danger, from an Itza lord from the south, a 'man of unbridled ambition and charisma.'

As in the first book, Morning Star's aunt, Matron Blue Heron plays a pivotal role. As does the thief/spy in her employ, Seven Skull Shield. Indeed he quickly became my favorite character in the novel. The action begins with the murder of a highborn Natchez warrior, heir to their Great Sun. Blue Heron is charged with finding the killer and assigns the task to Seven Skull Shield. This is followed quickly by the arrival of Itza lord Thirteen Sacred Jaguar, accompanied by Blue Heron's old enemy and ex-husband Horn Lance, with revenge and conquest in mind.

They implement their plan, amazing the Cahokians with 'priceless gifts' and demanding an alliance through marriage with Night Shadow Star (to which Morning Star agrees). Their warriors easily slaughter Cahokian veterans in ritual combat; they humiliate Fire Cat at chunkey; and Seven Skull Shield is betrayed and captured. All seems to be going their way. But the thief has a blue and brown eyed dog and a very Old Power on his side, and a chunkey game will determine Cahokia's fate. Sun Born is engrossing.

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