Official Review: Native Companions by Jenni Barnett

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 1279
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 372
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: Saxxons in Witherston by Betty Jean Craige
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Official Review: Native Companions by Jenni Barnett

Post by cristinaro » 03 Sep 2019, 08:36

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Native Companions" by Jenni Barnett.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Native Companions is book one in the wonderful Dreamtime Mysteries trilogy that reflects Jenni Barnett’s lifelong interest in anthropology, indigenous societies, traditional medicine, and the bushmen’s survival skills in remote regions of Australia. The first part in the series paves the way for an amazing mythology of the pre-European Aboriginal tribes. In the preface, the author admits that she does not aspire toward historical accuracy, but aims at capturing their “innocence, characters, wisdom, and spirituality so vital to their survival.” Indeed, the book chronicles the daily lives of the native tribes and restores a whole world of rites, legends, customs, belief systems, and behavioral patterns.

It all starts with a dying wish and an old gum tree. A gifted part-Aboriginal anthropology student, Rex Graham, promises his dying grandmother to search for the key to her great-grandfather’s dreamtime mysteries and to publish them for the benefit of their people. To get in touch with his ancestors and their stories, Rex finds refuge under the great tree of memories called Gran Yan. Apparently, he falls asleep under the tree, but in a dreamlike trance he overhears all the legends of the bush Gran Yan passes down to younger trees and future generations.

Each of the six sections of the book focuses on a distinct stage in the tribes’ struggle to survive under the most difficult circumstances. The things that struck me as particularly unique were their extraordinary resilience, strong moral code, and fantastic respect for nature and their motherland. I absolutely loved the beautiful descriptions of the flora and fauna at Yaraan Grove, the ancient cradle of the Booran Tribe. Gran Yan, the silent witness to their history, becomes a symbol of their continuity and a repository of long-forgotten myths and legends.

As in any great epic of past ages, Native Companions exquisitely uses the tale-within-a-tale narrative technique to weave together the pivotal sequences in the tribes’ history. In accordance, section two (Dreamtime Walkabout) is subordinated to section one (Journey Forward, Looking Back) as it includes a ceremonial reenactment of the Booran tribe’s journey south-east to Yaraan Grove. Similarly, section five (Transition) is not only a sequel to Wiliwanda’s adventures in sections three (Gran Yan, The Tree of Amazing Memories) and four (Gathering of the Clans); it is also a journey forward and backwards in time since Willie the birdman gets trapped into the tree of eternity. The book ends symmetrically with section six (Dreamtime Circle) that ties all the loose ends and explains whatever remained unclear.

With splendid illustrations and a glossary of mixed-language indigenous terms, Jenni Barnett’s book creates a genuine fresco of the social, religious, and cultural life of the Aboriginal Australian tribes. Among the many warriors, hunters, or fishermen mentioned in the book, there are a few characters that stand out from the crowd and acquire legendary dimensions. For example, Ooraawoo, the tribal Booran elder and guardian of the fire, is able to communicate with the spirits of the ancient wirinuns (priests or medicine men) and gain memories of their return from the great inland desert to Yaraan Grove. Brolga and Kaii, the twin orphans of the lost Mullian tribe, pass through one trial after another to prove they are worthy of the traditional bora (initiation ceremony). Last but not least, Willie survives a major flood and, like a veritable Robinson Crusoe, makes friends with the animals and manages to survive in the wilderness. His kind heart, his unwavering bravery, and his mystical experiences undoubtedly turn him into an emblematic figure.

In all honesty, I wish I could give this book the highest rating. Unfortunately, there are more than ten punctuation mistakes that, albeit minor, force me to settle for 3 out of 4 stars. I am sure Jenni Barnett’s Native Companions will be a delight to all those who are interested in history, mythology, and anthropology. On a more general level, all those who cherish great epics of the past will be fascinated by the constellation of tales, myths, and legends. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Along the Waterways.

******
Native Companions
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
reneelu1998
Posts: 173
Joined: 30 Mar 2019, 16:27
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 122
Favorite Book: The Outsiders
Currently Reading: The Great Dune Trilogy
Bookshelf Size: 90
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-reneelu1998.html
Latest Review: The Cult Next Door by Elizabeth R. Burchard, Judith L. Carlone
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by reneelu1998 » 03 Sep 2019, 23:54

This sounds like a really interesting book. That's too bad about all the grammatical errors. Thanks for the well-written review!

User avatar
Fazzier
Posts: 393
Joined: 16 Jan 2019, 14:07
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 33
Currently Reading: Small Change
Bookshelf Size: 143
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-fazzier.html
Latest Review: The Face of Fear by R. J. Torbert

Post by Fazzier » 04 Sep 2019, 01:10

I'm also struck by the fact that the pre-European Aboriginal tribes have extraordinary resilience, strong moral code, and fantastic respect for nature and their motherland. With that, it seems there are many useful values one can acquire by reading this book. Thank you so much for this wonderful review!

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 1279
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 372
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: Saxxons in Witherston by Betty Jean Craige
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 04 Sep 2019, 02:02

reneelu1998 wrote: ↑
03 Sep 2019, 23:54
This sounds like a really interesting book. That's too bad about all the grammatical errors. Thanks for the well-written review!
The punctuation mistakes were not a problem at all. They were more than ten, but less than twenty, and they didn't distract me from reading the book. I probably woudn't have noticed any if I weren't looking for them.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 1279
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 372
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: Saxxons in Witherston by Betty Jean Craige
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 04 Sep 2019, 02:06

Fazzier wrote: ↑
04 Sep 2019, 01:10
I'm also struck by the fact that the pre-European Aboriginal tribes have extraordinary resilience, strong moral code, and fantastic respect for nature and their motherland. With that, it seems there are many useful values one can acquire by reading this book. Thank you so much for this wonderful review!
Before reading this book, I knew nothing of these pre-European Aboriginal tribes in Australia, so I was surprised to discover so many interesting things about their customs and beliefs. I'll always appreciate people's efforts to look into and learn from their past.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

Nizar Ali Shah
Posts: 72
Joined: 12 Jul 2019, 12:56
Currently Reading: Tourist Trap
Bookshelf Size: 41

Post by Nizar Ali Shah » 04 Sep 2019, 09:15

Native Companion by Jenni Barnett.Jenni has life long interest in anthropology, indigenous societies. In the first part the book, the author wants to capture their innocence, character, wisdom and spirituality.The author thinks that these are important for their survival in the area.The book depicts the daily life patterns, their rites,culture, belief system and behavioral pattern.Besides they have strong moral code fantastic for their nature and their motherland.
Jenni Barnett s Native Companion will be a real delight for those who are interested in history,mythology and anthropology.The book is also useful for general readers

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 1279
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 372
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: Saxxons in Witherston by Betty Jean Craige
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 05 Sep 2019, 02:07

Nizar Ali Shah wrote: ↑
04 Sep 2019, 09:15
Native Companion by Jenni Barnett.Jenni has life long interest in anthropology, indigenous societies. In the first part the book, the author wants to capture their innocence, character, wisdom and spirituality.The author thinks that these are important for their survival in the area.The book depicts the daily life patterns, their rites,culture, belief system and behavioral pattern.Besides they have strong moral code fantastic for their nature and their motherland.
Jenni Barnett s Native Companion will be a real delight for those who are interested in history,mythology and anthropology.The book is also useful for general readers
Thank you for your comments. The book does target a large audience that could learn a lot about the pre-European Aboriginal tribes in Australia and enjoy some well-told stories.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

kdstrack
Posts: 3548
Joined: 10 May 2017, 19:49
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 87
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 106
Currently Reading: The Last Bush Pilots
Bookshelf Size: 270
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kdstrack.html
Latest Review: The Shelf by David K. DeRemer

Post by kdstrack » 09 Sep 2019, 16:16

Your description of the characters is quite intriguing! The story sounds interesting and I like it that the author has included illustrations and a glossary. This trilogy has piqued my interest. Great review! Thanks.

Post Reply

Return to “Historical Fiction”