S.R. Howen's Medicine Man is a very interesting and well written novel. The flow of the story is smooth and it captures the reader’s attention. Personally I enjoyed reading it, but I kept asking myself all along, would I like it as much if I didn’t have some previous knowledge about Native American culture and beliefs.
To fully appreciate this book it helps to visit Acoma Pueblo (Sun City) or some other Native American locality and believe in Bear Dreamers. But I don’t necessarily see that as a drawback. After all, as it is the case with numerous great works – “many were called, but few were chosen”, Medicine Man calls readers to truly engage in order to be rewarded with a full experience.Based on the Native American historical tragedy as a broad setting for the story, S.R. Howen’s novel has all the characteristics of the Epic novel and it is a great starting point for an epic novel series. Here one can find everything - from clash of the cultures, adventures, unsolved historical issues, fight of the good versus evil, romance, mystery, hidden symbols, to time-shifts and parallel worlds.
The author did a great job in developing the main character of the story -Shannon Running Deer, a respected trauma surgeon. I find it almost ironic that the author chose for this character to be a “trauma surgeon” in the modern setting of this story. Caught between two worlds, two cultures, discovering his inner self, his true identity that spread throughout many lifetimes and reality levels, fighting an evil from the past ( and in the past) , he is trying to deal with conflicting feelings, fulfill the mission that he was destined for, and find his peace. It is a real “trauma” journey of the true Hero Archetype.
Of course, the Hero meets his Heroine. Her name is Morning Dove. In the modern setting of the story, she is a Native American teenage girl. As the story transcends into a different reality her identity gets more and more veiled into allegory. Here everything is a symbol! It is up to the readers to discover Morning Dove’s true greatness in her complex relationship with Shannon Running Deer. I don’t know if the author did this on purpose, but it works very well. Some readers may complain that they were “cut short” here, but I think that the author’s reasoning was more along the line – it is not about our “knowledge” of Shannon and Morning Dove’s relationship, but about our “understanding”.
All in all, S.R. Howen's Medicine Man is an enlightening read! Looking forward to reading Medicine Man II.