Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A Tale From Pre-History, The Drowning Land by David M. Donachie @bayushi_hituro

Today’s team review is from Jenni. Find out more about Jenni here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading The Drowning Land by David M. Donachie

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I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I pulled David M. Donachie’s The Drowning Land out of the review pile. I mean, I read the synopsis, obviously, so I knew a little about the story, but this was my first experience with a novel centered on early man and I couldn’t help but wonder if that would keep me from caring about the characters.

Would they be too different, too outside a modern mindset, to connect with?

In retrospect, that is a silly thing to get hung up on. I’ve read and connected with stories populated by characters much further removed from humanity than Donachie’s version of paleolithic people, and that’s what Donachie creates—people.

People just as full of fears and foibles, hopes and dreams, cruelties and kindnesses, as people today. People grappling with a world that has simultaneously been gradually changing for generations and is suddenly changing way too fast. And the people who can adapt, those who band together and allow old prejudices to die—they are the people best suited to survive and thrive in this changing world. Any of that sound familiar?

There is a clear message in Donachie’s work, for those looking for one, but there is also an excellent story. A story about two teenagers from different cultures, different species even, learning first to trust each other, and then work together, and then love each other in spite of overwhelming odds and the literal end of the world as they know it. Donachie’s protagonists each bring specific strengths, talents, and skills to their partnership, so watching them stumble through a language barrier and grow into this partnership is a truly rewarding experience.

There is also a villain. Multiple villains, technically, but our primary human antagonist is also a point of view character for a few chapters and there is strength in getting that insight into him. He’s not evil for the sake of evil, he’s just another man trying to fit the changing world into his personal belief system, like all of us are.

Granted, his personal belief system involves human sacrifice, so we can all definitively call him “the bad guy”, but there is a very scared person under that badness and getting that look at his psyche is a visceral reminder of that old truism: “No one is the villain in their own mind.” The antagonist thinks that what he is doing will save his people, just as the protagonists are trying to save theirs.

Because, at the end of the day, beneath the fact that these are all early humans and neanderthal descendants, they are still just people. People beautifully researched, imagined, and rendered by a man with a talent for storytelling and a knack for weaving fact into his work. When you finish The Drowning Lands, I highly recommend reading the Afterword, where Donachie lays out the historical basis for his characters and setting. There’s a retroactive richness added to the experience when you realize how grounded in potential fact and believable hypothesis this novel truly is.

An excellent story, well told, and certainly one I’ll be recommending to friends looking for a fresh new voice.

5/5

Desc 1

The world is drowning.

Edan’s tribe has always survived by knowing the land and following its stories. But now their world is changing, and they must change with it, or die.

When young fisherman Edan rescues the troll seer Tara from Phelan wolf-touched, he makes a powerful enemy. But Tara’s visions bring them hope that the world might still be saved.

Edan must break away from tradition and cross the Summer Lands in search of a new future, but where does that future lie? With Phelan’s wolf clan? With the Fomor sea-devils? Or with Tara’s uncertain hope for salvation?

The Drowning Land takes us back eight thousand years to the Mesolithic Period when a lost land, Doggerland, still connected England to France across what is now the North Sea. Inspired by the extensive research conducted by archaeologists over the past two decades, this is a story of our distant ancestors and how they confronted the climate catastrophe that overwhelmed their world.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PrehistoricalFiction The Drowning Land by David M Donachie @bayushi_hituro

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading The Drowning Land by David M Donachie

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The Drowning Land is prehistorical fiction, set in northern Europe a little over eight thousand years ago. It combines adventure, a romance, and disaster against the setting of a land that literally is sinking beneath the sea.

It is based on an event that UK archeology teams described in 2009, where a huge underwater slide created a sudden and catastrophic tsunami that engulfed Doggerland. Doggerland connected Great Britain to the European continent and was a rich habitat for the Mesolithic populations. It is now submerged beneath the southern North Sea. When the author heard this description, his mental image of peoples looking up at the onrushing wave triggered his desire to write a story about it. The author describes all this at the end of the book, and I wish it had come as a prologue. My lack of knowledge led to some confusion in my reading of the story.

The story:

Edan, one of the two main characters, is the member of a Mesolithic tribe, dark-skinned, blue-eyed, short and wiry. For millennia, the tribe has migrated with the seasons between the coastal ‘Summer Lands’ (Doggerland) and the highlands in the winter, following the rigid rule of tribal tradition and despite the fact that the Summer Lands are gradually being poisoned by rising salt water. Edan rescues a ‘troll’ named Tara from another predatory tribal group with wolves as their totem, led by a war-chieftain named Phelan. Tara is at least partially Neanderthal, based on her description. She has foreseen the drowning of their lands and is on a quest at the direction of her tribes’ elders to discover if the spirit world can be aroused at a sacred place – a site about which Tara has only minimal information. In rescuing her, Edan accidently kills one of Phelan’s followers, and he and Tara become separated from his tribe as they flee from Phelan’s people and the rising seas everywhere, while trying to find the place Tara seeks. Their odyssey through increasingly drowning lands is one of growth and change, and, not surprisingly, of love, and will determine their fate and that of the Summer Lands.

The author has done considerable research in making his historical fiction plausible – the living spaces, the food, the implements used and the weapons. The humans that populate this world are also very believable. Edan and Tara are compelling characters with weaknesses and strengths, and after the first few chapters, which are slowly paced, I became completely engaged in their saga. His descriptions of the different lives of various tribes – hunters, gatherers, fishermen – ring true, as well as the zeitgeist of this prehistorical time, a tribute to the author’s ability to imagine himself living eight thousand years ago. It reminds me a great deal of a favorite of mine, The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel.

Issues for me:

  • The author describes the history of Doggerland and the peoples who populated it at the end of the book.  I wish it had been placed at the beginning, since my lack of knowledge led to some confusion.
  • The map at the beginning shows the land described by the author with the names of landmarks in the story, but I had no clue what I was looking at and where it was located relative to the larger picture of the land at that time. I badly needed a compass on that map!
  • There were some slower parts to the book, which might have been eliminated with some judicious editing.

Despite the issues, I was hooked once I got into this story. I loved the characters and the alternating points of view between Edan and Tara worked for me, allowing me to get into their heads. The author has brought the landscape and history of Doggerland to brilliant life. I strongly recommend The Drowning Land this as an informative and entertaining read, a definite must for historical fiction buffs.

Desc 1

The world is drowning.

Edan’s tribe has always survived by knowing the land and following its stories. But now their world is changing, and they must change with it, or die.

When young fisherman Edan rescues the troll seer Tara from Phelan wolf-touched, he makes a powerful enemy. But Tara’s visions bring them hope that the world might still be saved.

Edan must break away from tradition and cross the Summer Lands in search of a new future, but where does that future lie? With Phelan’s wolf clan? With the Fomor sea-devils? Or with Tara’s uncertain hope for salvation?

The Drowning Land takes us back eight thousand years to the Mesolithic Period when a lost land, Doggerland, still connected England to France across what is now the North Sea. Inspired by the extensive research conducted by archaeologists over the past two decades, this is a story of our distant ancestors and how they confronted the climate catastrophe that overwhelmed their world. 

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #TimeTravel Neander: Exploitation by @AuthorHarald

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Neander: Exploitation by Harald Johnson

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5 out of 5 stars
I read the first book in this series, in which Tom Cook first ends up back in Neanderthal times, and of course his first realisation about what had happened was so good to read, but I actually liked this book more.


In Neander: Exploitation, Tom has a family back in those ancient times, but must travel back to the 21st century to get medical help for his daughter.  The book just flowed along, all the way through, with no dreary bits to wade through, and was oddly convincing despite the subject matter being so bizarre!  I constantly found myself unwilling to put the book down because I was so looking forward to seeing what happened next.

The elements of this book that interested me, in particular, were the idea that a time traveller could enter another era only to find that time has moved more quickly, and the way in which Tom’s actions back in prehistoric times alter the world for millennia to come.  I would love to see more of that in book 3, which I notice is being written at the moment, and about how Tom feels about the 21st century versus his pre-history life, which was touched on at the end.


Anyway, top stuff.  Looking forward to Book 3, and if you’re a time travel addict, get it now!

Book description

“What kind of world is this?”
It’s five years later, and Tom Cook is living a “normal” life with his Neanderthal family 40,000 years ago.
But when a life-threatening crisis strikes his daughter, Tom decides to carry her to the future for the medical help she desperately needs. And in the process, he’s entangled in a modern world very different from the one he left behind.

Now, caught up in a secret plan to exploit his daughter’s unique Neanderthal DNA, Tom must find a way to save everything he loves and cherishes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Time Travel Adventure NEANDER by @AuthorHarald #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Neander by Harald Johnson

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4.5*
Tom Cook is a science journalist working on an archaeological dig in Gibraltar, when disaster strikes in the form of a boat accident—his pregnant fiancée is missing.  When Tom goes searching for her, he slips through a time portal that takes him back…. way back, to 40,000 years ago. Neanderthal man has yet to become extinct, though the threat of Homo Sapiens is on the horizon.
Tom finds ways to communicate with them and become part of their world.  Quite early on, I saw that this was not just a time travel adventure, and that Tom’s actions would have repercussions, which added interest, as I looked forward to finding out how great these would be.  Tom has a wealth of knowledge to teach his new family, and draws on his own research about Neanderthal man to find the best methods to help them, especially when they come face to face with the more ruthless Sapiens.
In the notes at the back, the author mentions having read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari; I’ve read three books by Harari and could feel the influence; I actually thought ‘ah, he’s been reading Sapiens’ a couple of times, before I read the notes, but this wasn’t a negative; I liked it.
Neander held my interest all the way through; of course time travel stories always depend on disbelief suspension on the part of the reader, but the fantasy must be believeable within the fiction, and for the most part this was; I’d give it about seven out of ten, because I needed to know more about how he communicated with these prehistoric people in order to be completely convinced by the fact that he did.  Also, I was so looking forward to finding out how Tom’s actions of 40K years ago impacted on the world we know now, but there was less detail than I’d hoped for.  On the whole, though, this book is fun and an easy read, an inventive, interesting and original story, as well as providing questions and ideas on which to ponder, which makes it a win-win as far as I’m concerned; yes, I recommend it!
Book description

“My God. These people really ARE Neanderthals!”

At an archeological dig in Gibraltar, a boat explosion shatters the hopes of science journalist Tom Cook. His pregnant fiancée was on the boat and is missing.
During the search, things go from bad to worse when Tom plunges through a time portal and into the strange and dangerous era of the Neanderthals. Can he get back, or is he stuck in the past forever?

On top of figuring out how to return to the present, Tom must use his modern-day wits to fight for survival in the world of 40,000 years ago. And contend with a group of archaic humans that are not at all like what he expects.
Finally, Tom faces a crucial decision that could alter the course of human history. A history he knows he has the power to change. Will he make the right choice?

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