Chronicle of the Mound Builders, by debut author Elle Marie, piqued my interest immediately because I love fiction written surrounding Native American (First Peoples) culture and archaeology. I had high excitement for this novel and looked forward to reading it. Once I started it, it transported me to another place and time with its historical detail, thrilling mystery, and well-written pages. I didn’t want to ever have to put it down!
I am a huge fan of Kathleen and Michael Gear, who’ve written a series of books that includes People of the Earth, People of the Sea, People of the Longhouse, and many more. Some of their books also start out in the present day at archaeological dig sites then revert to the past to tell the life story behind the present finds. And of course, the similarity here is that their books also are historical novels of the First Peoples. They are my most favorite books ever – so epic, well-researched and well-written. The way Marie’s book differs though includes her use of mystery and the type of action this entails. While the Gears books are more warfare or interpersonal relationship conflict, Marie’s books are action adventure.
I am so happy to see Marie pen a novel that is in the same vein as this aforementioned power couple, utilizing Native American culture and describing it so vividly. That it reminds me of the Gears’ work in that regard (as I believe they are some of the foremost archaeologists of our time) is a huge compliment to her and to Chronicle of the Mound Builders. With subsequent books, writing time, and some further character development, she’ll be on her way to being a known author. Don’t let the fact that it’s Indie published cause you any ire either, because it’s traditional publish worthy, in my opinion.
Marie chose to juxtapose between the past, giving us a glimpse of Native American lifestyles (an Aztec father and son travel from Mexico to Migaduha – now Cohokia Mounds, Illinois to the People of the Sun (Mound Builders)), and the present, featuring Angela, her protagonist who is living the life as a very dedicated and determined archaeologist in Missouri. I related to the character of Angela, a young woman who is very motivated by her work and compelled with a drive to piece together puzzles of the past.
The desire by others for secret artifacts, thinking they might hold particular powers, propels the book with a great amount of suspenseful tension. When Angela, and her father Peter, uncover a jar with a codex and amulet – which has supernatural powers of course – the adventure begins. It’s one reminiscent of Indiana Jones’ tales or The Mummy movie series (a couple of favorites of mine). Of course there is a “villain,” the archaeologists, and Native American Society that wants preservation….and all that rolls out into heightened action.
I enjoyed reading the story of the Aztecs and the Mound Builders, their cultures, customs (even if some were a bit terrible to today’s standards–like human sacrifice (the opening scene made me gasp!)). I also enjoyed following along with Angela alternately as she uncovered their culture and the mystery of this ancient codex, giving the reader enough hints along the way that it made solving the puzzle our own adventure.
All story lines come together in the end, but the book leaves us wondering what will happen next. If a sequel is to come, I’d be most delighted and can’t wait to read more from Elle Marie. I enjoyed her use of Native American heritage, archaeology, and action in her books. As she perfects her writing and conversations, her books will keep getting better as she has well-developed details, plot lines, action, and superb editing.
For a historical adventure that makes you want to be an archaeologist, I recommend you read Chronicle of the Mound Builders! The book will make you read it straight through from beginning to end and leave you wanting more, while also giving you a lesson in Native American heritage.
With enough books already saturating the market in regards to Templar or religious artifact adventures, it’s a pleasant find to read an original action book taking a look at a different time, place, and culture.
CHRONICLE OF THE MOUND BUILDERS, Synopsis~
Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.
In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.
Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?
Praise for Chronicle of the Mound Builders
Good Blend of Fact and Fiction
“I really enjoyed reading the Chronicle of the Mound Builders. The author artfully wove the timelines, dropping hints as the story unfolded. I also enjoyed trying to figure out the geographic locations since I live in the St. Louis area. The author’s descriptions were so accurate that I was able to pinpoint exactly where the action was occurring.
I was so engrossed in the storyline that I read the book in two sittings during one weekend. My husband said that he had never seen me read a book that quickly. I was sorry when I had finished but realized that the author left the story open for a sequel. I look forward to reading that book, too.” – Archeology Enthusiast, Amazon Reviewer
Exciting and Informative
“This is an exciting read, a real page-turner. The story travels between the past and present such that the events of the past parallel the discoveries in the present in a timely manner. The story is filled with adventure and mystery. It was written with some intelligence as the author displays in-depth knowledge of ancient Aztec cultures, the Mississippians, and modern day archeological techniques. These are combined into a thrilling adventure. I look forward to the author’s next book.” – JayCee, Amazon Reviewer
Author Elle Marie, Biography~
Coming from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.
A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.
By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.
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