Reviews of Eye of the Bear (Book 1, California Gold Trilogy)
“I have read very few women authors who can speak in a man’s voice so perfectly that readers transcend gender too. My favorite part of reading your books, beyond your incredibly thorough research, is the experience of getting pulled into a totally different reality. It is one thing to ‘paint a picture’ with words, which you do so well. It is entirely something above to ‘paint’ emotions and thoughts so that the reader feels like the events are happening to them as well. You have given us an incredibly clear picture of the past.”
— A female reader
“What a lovely novel! I couldn’t put it down. I'm a reader of historical fiction, and this work is as polished and articulate as any of the brilliant pieces I have ever read. I never saw a glitch in its flow — masterful. I love the pieces on religion and spiritual life — thought-provoking — and you never take a side. You left it up to the reader to think it through, just what a good historian would do.
“What I liked most was the chaos in the mind of Grizzly Hair as he encountered things alien to his native culture. He tried his best to come to grips with it, tried to synthesize new experiences with his preexisting thoughts, but nothing ever gelled in a permanent form. He had a tremendous thirst to learn, like any normal human being, which is the beauty of the storyline.”
— A male reader
“Eye of the Bear is far more than a rollicking good read. It is a history lesson that teaches much about human nature. It is a rare, bittersweet look at our own past, bringing to life the hardships and heartbreaks of the native people as they faced ‘civilization’ . . .
“Using true historical events and figures as its backbone, Eye of the Bear tells the tale of a fictional Miwok boy coming of age who journeys to discover what change has come to his world, and what he can do about it.
“Packed with action, rich with cultural details of Miwok life, this book carries the reader through every aspect of the human experience — tragedy, comedy, cruelty and compassion, lust and longing, slavery and freedom, the love of power versus the power of love.
“A real page turner, Eye of the Bear ‘gives voices to people who in traditional Western stories have been silent’ (Richard Etulain, University of New Mexico).
“West honors the native spirit — and spirits.
“In addition to its historical accuracy and excellent writing, a great strength of this book is how (native) spiritual life permeated . . . and enriched life. Grizzly Bear, the main character’s power animal, or totem, appears throughout to guide him. Other spirits, including a deceased family member, also speak out, just as real to the Miwok as those whose Earth Walk is still physical . . .
“Ho; we’ve come a long way since the cowboy-and-Indian spaghetti Westerns.
“In Eye of the Bear, the differences between native villages shine forth . . . And each character . . . has a unique personality with his or her own motivations, just like real people! Thank you!
“In fact, West dances artfully among different characters, indirectly allowing many to be the ‘I’ of the book: Grizzly Hair (the protagonist); his mother; his wife; the mission padre; mission soldiers; native rebel leader Estanislao, who was assimilated into the mission; American traders and explorers such as Jedediah Smith; and Mexican, Spanish, and Russian people of power. . . .
“If you have enjoyed adventure books like Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel, you will love this book. If you want to learn more about the history of northern California, you will love this book. If you are intrigued by Native American culture and spirituality, you will love this book.
“Even if you just want a rollicking good read, you will love this book.”
— Colfax Record