Spirit Wolf

A High Plains Warrior Novel

Young Adult - Coming of Age
354 Pages
Reviewed on 12/26/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Michael spent most of his early years growing up in Los Angeles.

     He entered the U.S. Army in his late teens, training and working in a variety of specialities before becoming a Green Beret. In the Berets he served as an Intelligence Sergeant on an A team. He left the Army, as a Sergeant First Class, to become a police officer.

     Michael was a member of the San Diego Police Department for thirty-six years. In his police career he worked in Field Operations, SWAT and Investigations before retiring in 2005.

   After retiring, he became a man tracker for the San Diego Sheriff Department's Search and Rescue Team. He remained in that position for seven years. He is currently a member of the San Diego Tracking Team and leads animal behavior and tracking walks as a docent for San Diego's Mission Trails Regional Park.

  Michael has an AA in Police Science and a BA in Business Administration.

   He has extensive wilderness survival knowledge learned in the military and as a wilderness backpacker. He is an animal behaviorist with particular interest in scent-hunter/scent-prey relationships and alarm communications within the wild animal community.

   And lastly, Michael has spent decades studying the hunter-gatherer cultures of North America, in particular the Northern Plains tribes.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is a dazzling story set against a warrior culture of the mid-1700s on the Great Plains; a story that features great characters and invaluable lessons for life. What does it take to be a man and a warrior? What are the laws of survival? What is true leadership? These are questions that are brilliantly answered in this tale. The reader follows the life of a fifteen-year-old Native American boy who goes to live in the wilderness for fear of the threat to his life from a powerful adversary. But in the mountains, a hermit will open his eyes to great knowledge, modeling on the behavior of animals.

The story starts with intense action; a dramatic incident of murder has greatly disturbed the peace of the land. “The warrior, Fox Belly, was clubbed to death and his wife, Crow Woman, was forcibly dragged away to the killer’s hovel. By nighttime, Crow Woman was rescued and the killer condemned to banishment, but no social issue involving the odd Tall Rabbit had ever been resolved that simply.” Having introduced readers to some of the key characters, the author drops a bombshell that creates one of the conflicts that will dominate this story.

The writing is gorgeous, and readers will undoubtedly enjoy the lyricism in the style and the symbolism. The plot moves very fast, punctuated with reflections about life that are eye-opening. Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs might read beautifully, fast, and entertaining, but it is one of those books with multi layers, just like the Alchemist of Paulo Coelho.

Benjamin Ookami

Lion Hunter is a young brave living amongst the Wolf Ridge people. After his father's death, his mother has no choice but to go into exile, but before she does that, she goes to a witch named Kills-In-The-Dark and asks her to take care of Lion Hunter. Lion Hunter's path towards becoming a man and a warrior amongst his people starts with the witch and an old man who lives by himself in the wilderness. This old man is Spirit Man and he will teach Lion Hunter about the ways of the animals and the history behind his witch mentor's name so that he can become a great leader amongst his people. While he learns from the old man, the time for him to go on his vision quest approaches.

Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs takes readers into a world in which a warrior from one tribe feels obligated to not only protect his people, but also to take from a trespassing warrior from another tribe. Kills-In-The-Dark is as scary as ever when readers first meet her, but for the reader who climbs into Lion Hunter's mind, there is much to admire about this witch. The part I enjoyed the most was Lion Hunter's time in the wilderness with Spirit Man. He learned some shocking truths concerning his mentor, came face to face with a mighty big animal, and adopted better ways to hunt. A story about a young Indian orphan in a world and time before America's discovery couldn't have been more enjoyable.

Rabia Tanveer

Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is the story of a warrior boy who was alone, but he found leadership, companionship, and family with two strangers. The story is set in the 1700s in the pre-white settlers tribal era where the social structure of the people living in tribes was based on the elders. The politics and the social pressures are still the same though. We see everything through the eyes of a 15-year-old boy who is destined for great things. He meets a one-eyed witch/medicine woman who he does not trust, but he has great respect for her. When their lives are threatened by the chieftain, the boy secretly moves to the wilderness where he meets with a man who teaches him very important lessons in life. These lessons will help him become the man and the leader his people need him to be. But during this, he learns the lessons of trust, of friends, of family, and the importance of having people in your life who care about you.

I loved reading this novel for many reasons. One of those reasons is that Gibbs wrote a wonderful coming of age novel with great characters. Another reason I liked the novel is because the story talks about some great values. The hero learns to live his life with the help of his two mentors. Even though he does not like the medicine woman at first, he comes to care about her and even love her. This was a great experience, definitely one of the best novels I read in 2016. It is really well written and I love the cover.

Divine Zape

Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is an exciting story with a beautiful setting against the Great Plains, featuring a culture of the Indians before their first contact with the whites. It is a coming-of-age story that mirrors the way of life of the people and a young man’s path to maturity. The story leads a fifteen-year-old to an encounter with an old hermit, a man filled with wisdom and experience, who will open the boy’s eyes to the truth about the path and the philosophy of life and war. Readers will enjoy the way the people relate to nature and to one another, and how their communities are structured and the unspoken laws that govern them.

I was pulled in from the very beginning, which I think was dramatic and laced with conflict. From then on, the author leaves the reader no moment’s respite as he provokes a surge of powerful emotions through the beautiful prose, the prowess of great storytelling, and the pacing. The plot is well-woven, incorporating different literary styles — symbolism, suspense, humor and contrast. The narrative voice is powerful enough to keep the reader enraptured throughout the story. I enjoyed the way the conflict develops.

From the first page, readers are introduced to an eccentric man who keeps to himself, a loner who later commits a grave crime by killing a warrior. The conflict within the protagonist, the psychological conflict is equally explored in unusual ways. Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs offers great entertainment and powerful lessons as well, a well-crafted story that will leave any reader pining for more.

Ruffina Oserio

Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel by Michael O. Gibbs is a coming-of-age story with a great setting and compelling characters. Set in the 1700s, this story immerses readers in the world of the Native American Indians before their contact with white skinned Americans. The author depicts a powerful world on the Great Plains, showing a community of people with a way of life. In this setting, a young boy’s life is threatened. At fifteen, he has to leave for safety. While in the wilderness, he is tutored by a man who seems to be a loner, a man with a lot of experience and wisdom.

This is a story that doesn’t only portray the way of life of the Indians before modernity, but one that proposes a powerful philosophy modeled around the laws of life and what we could learn from nature and animals. It is interesting to watch the young warrior as he grows in wisdom and strength. Michael O. Gibbs is a great writer, with a gift for descriptions and dialogue. The descriptions are very clear and they create a world where the reader can find himself or herself walking side by side with the characters. The dialogues read naturally and the characters are real, even if they are pulled from a culture few readers will be familiar with.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition between humans and animals, and how some animals can be role models in the way we think and relate with others. The plot is well-thought out with a lot to keep the reader focused, interested, and entertained. It is fast-paced and the suspense is biting. Spirit Wolf: A High Plains Warrior Novel is the kind of story you finish before you’re aware you even started. A work of great beauty!