3 out of 4 stars
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Bidziil (Zill) thought that it was time he took matters into his own hands and regained control of his family. As it turned out, life had dealt him a bad hand: he lost his daughter-in-law to cancer, and only six months later, he lost his only son, Yiska, to mental illness. Even so, Zill wasn’t your typical septuagenarian. He was a spirit rider for the Ohanzee, an intertribal outfit that protected native artifacts and monuments. The Navajo Sign by D. B. Lawhon is a fast-paced account that exemplifies the well-known adage that says, “wisdom is more valuable than money.”
Amid repurposing his life, Zill was kidnapped by a certain Brazilian oil tycoon, who was a descendant of a pioneer gold prospector in the Sierra Estrella mountainous region. Juan Estefan DeCarlo, the tycoon, had made finding his great-great-grandfather’s gold his life’s purpose. Through spying on the movements of Ian Cochran, his head of security, he’d established that Zill could lead him to the gold. Until then, the existence of the treasure had been taken as a myth.
I liked this novel because it showcased a few characters while reinventing themselves. As someone who struggles with overcoming fear in my chosen path to personal change, I was encouraged by both Ian’s and Zill’s decision to embrace change so late in life. After thirty years of working as a soldier of fortune, Ian felt like his life was drifting away with no purpose. However, despite a debilitating disease, he took some steps toward trying to leave a positive mark in his world. Similarly, Zill’s long-term role as a spirit rider for his Navajo tribe had unforeseen negative consequences for his family. Nevertheless, with the help of his friend, Tocho, Zill was able to confront the force responsible for his son’s disappearance.
On the other hand, I disliked the fact that the book was peppered with several editing errors that could’ve been avoided by another round of editing. As a result, I marked the book down by a star to rate it at 3 out of 4 stars.
Lastly, I found this novel to be like a breath of fresh air. Not only is it a story about Native American culture, but it also features some universal themes that tie us together as human beings, such as discovering our true identity. Besides, it has an important lesson on the need to live a materially and spiritually balanced life. This means too much of one thing could see us getting unfulfilled, and sometimes, with a fatal consequence. I, therefore, recommend it to anyone interested in any of these topics. At the same time, it may be unsuited for readers who are turned off by voodooism.
The Navajo Sign
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