by Edith Maxwell
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
I have read every book in Kaye George’s People of the Wind prehistory series, and I love Death in the New Land as much as the earlier books.
After the Neanderthal Hamapa tribe makes their way south away from the increasing ice toward a warmer land, Enga Dancing Flower, the protagonist, is distressed by a murder and a child’s disappearance – the child she regards as her own.
Mammoths are plentiful in the south, but so are other peoples not as friendly and cooperative as the matrilineal Hamapa. Still, the tribe needs to hunt, and the women are the skilled hunters, the ones with the best aim and expertise wielding spears.
As a person with an advanced education in linguistics, I have long been fascinated with the communication system George has created alongside a complete culture for the Hamapa. These characters rarely vocalize. Instead, they share ideas and images mentally, and have the ability to both share privately and to shut off their thoughts from those they don’t want hearing. This makes the “Tall Ones,” the closest beings to humans like us, seem intrusive with their out-loud talking.
Life is good for a while, until a male of the tribe is found murdered and Enga Dancing Flower’s adopted child goes missing. A former group member-turned-traitor begs to be readmitted to the group, and they find that the dangerous Tall Ones live close by with another former tribal member who has become an enemy. Enga Dancing Flower struggles to balance the all-important needs of the tribe with her need to search for her missing daughter.??All through this story, as well as in the previous books, the reader learns details about George’s vision of Neanderthals, how they function as a tribe, hunt for food, and establish the tribal hierarchy where men perform more traditional female roles. The Hamapa believe in acting for the good of the group, not the individual. They don’t believe in fighting others or killing their own kind, even as many of these beliefs are challenged by events in the story.
Enga shows both leadership and tenderness in this story. For fans of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, and anyone seeking a well-written story in an unusual world, I highly recommend Death in the New Land.
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