This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

17 April, 2012


Cover art: Jackie Morris
Cover design: HarperCollinsPublishers


ISBN: 978-0-00-742544-0
Pages: 348
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Originally published: 1988
This edition published: 28 April 2011

On the cover:

Living on the outskirts of the tribe Tillu was happy spending her time tending her strange, slow dreamy child Kerlew and communing with the spirits to heal the sick and bring blessing on new births.

However Carp, the Shaman, an ugly wizened old man whose magic smelled foul to Tillu desired both mother and child. Tillu knew Carp’s magic would steal her son and her soul. So begins the Harrowing and desperate pursuit across the winter-ravaged lands, as Tillu's flight leads them into an uncertain, and deadly, new future.

   This isn't an action-packed book, the pace is slow and what happens in the story takes a long time to arrive anywhere. But that isn't a negative in this case, that is just how the story is structured.
   I'm pretty much OK with books that take their time, but I did have a problem with how you could see important plotpoints coming a long way in this book. The narrative uses a long time to come to things that are obvious to the reader and this removes much of the suspense in the story. Normally this would put me off the story, but here that is not the case. I found the story both compelling and interesting.

   There are two elements that makes this story a good one, the characters and the setting. The characters are all interesting, and as an ensemble they work very well together. That being said, they are pretty standard. It doesn't take long before you get a grip on their place in the story and where it is going to take them. But as with the slow pace I mentioned above, it works. You get sympathy for them and they are interesting to follow on their journey.

   The setting is what I liked best about the story. I don't know if Lindholm has used the Sami of northern Scandinavia, and north-east Russia, as a template for the setting but I strongly suspect she did. Lindholm is very good with this setting, and especially the nature of it. As someone who has grown up in Norway I am sensitive to descriptions of winter that doesn't ring true. That is no problem with Lindholm's writing here, she makes the winter come to life very well.

   It may seem from what I've written above that I didn't like this book very much, but I did. The individual elements may not work very well isolated, but they come together top make an interesting and well written story.
   I also have to say that this is not Fantasy, it is Historical Fiction. And comparisons to Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series are a bit unavoidable. In that respect this compares favourably, and I would urge any fan of Auel or Pre-History in general to pick it up.

NOTE: This is a split novel, I have reviewed book two, Wolf's Brother here.

REVIEWS: Wolf's Brother  The Inheritance

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