Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recommended Ice Age adventure for winter reading

I just finished reading The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel. It is the third book in her Earth's Children series that I have been enjoying immensely. I read the first book Clan of the Cave Bear about twenty years ago when I was in high school. That is a profoundly gripping novel, especially if you are like me and find yourself wondering what Neanderthals were like.

Although I really thought Clan of the Cave Bear was great, I never continued reading the series until the past few months when I ran across The Valley of the Horses at the library. After almost twenty years, it was like I had just put down the first novel days before. I remembered Ayla like a dear friend and was once again hunting and gathering at her side as she suffered extreme trials in the Neolithic world. Then I quickly proceeded to the third novel, which was utterly fascinating. My full review of The Mammoth Hunters is now at my website the Fantasy Tavern that includes some book reviews.

I mostly read fantasy, but I really enjoy stories set in our real prehistoric times. I think that some fantasy literature even owes its inspiration to our prehistory that beckons our imaginations but left no written records. For example, fantasy fiction usually contains races other than humans, like elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc. This interest in alternative races could be derived from the distant past in which humans actually did encounter and sometimes live in competition with other humanoid species that have gone extinct. Also the common motif of dragons and fighting monsters prevalent in fantasy fiction likely emerges from a time when humans shared the landscape with megafauna and did have to fight or at lease avoid monsters on a regular basis.

For more of my thoughts on various fantasy books and the Earth's Children series, please visit the book review pages at the Fantasy Tavern.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
The Briar King by Greg Keyes
The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes
Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Valley of the Horses by Jean M. Auel
The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs