Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE REPLACEMENT CHRONICLES by @HarperSwan1 #HistFic #Mystery

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Replacement Chronicles by Harper Swan



I previously reviewed the first part of this saga (, which was published as a novella. The story has now been expanded into a saga – a meticulously researched story of the interaction of an early Homo sapiens woman, Raven, with a Neanderthal man she calls Longhead, who was captured by her tribe. Raven is a healer, and in treating the captive for a dislocated shoulder and seeing to his care, she develops a bond with him.

The chronicles weave back and forth from the present to the past, continuing the story of Mark Hayek in the present. Mark is an introverted scientist of Lebanese ancestry and has a larger than normal proportion of his DNA identified as Neanderthal. About 1-2% of our DNA is Neanderthal, as the result of Neanderthal-Home sapiens interbreeding (see my post: How Much of Us is Neanderthal? at Mark is unusual in that his DNA is 3% Neanderthal. Is it because of this that he develops a real interest in early modern man and seeks to feel their presence in places where they lived?

When the Neanderthal captive is released, Raven follows him and when they meet, they engage in a moment of passion before he treks on, back to his people. Raven becomes pregnant and first tries to hide her pregnancy, then get rid of it. When that fails, she pretends that the child is from her sister’s husband, Bear, who has been co-habiting with her as well. Although she is treated as a slave by most of the tribe, she has a talent for finding and honing just the right stone for spear points. Finally, she decides to leave the tribe with the help of Leaf, a young brave who loves her. She fakes her death so Bear, who treats her brutally, will not follow. She and Leaf then begin the long trek across the steppes and find the father of her baby.

Mark’s story begins with the request from his mother that he go to Turkey to collect the ashes of her brother, Sami. Although Sami had a son, Anton, he made his sister the executor of his estate, and asked that she bring his ashes back to Israel. Although both Mark and his mother question why Anton was not made the executor, the inheritance will bring financial relief to them both. Mark agrees to go and is met at the Ben-Gurion airport by Anton and is immediately suspicious of him. Anton’s off-again on-again bonhomie reinforces Mark’s disquiet, which is only mitigated by Anton’s taking him to various caves in Israel where early humans were known to live. In one that is privately owned and where both Neanderthal and modern human bones have been found, Mark discovers a bladed stone of quartz hidden away in an invisible niche, possibly for thousands of years.

You absolutely need to read the Chronicles to find out what happens to Raven. Will she eventually find the baby’s husband? Will she and Leaf become a couple? Will she be accepted by the Longhead tribe? Will Bear find her?

And what happens to Mark? When Anton takes him to Turkey to collect his father’s ashes, he lures him to a cave with the promise of more prehistoric artifacts, but instead delivers him to kidnappers demanding a million-dollar ransom before they will let him go. How does he escape and how does the skull he finds in the cave where they hold him relate to the spear point? Is there a possible link of Mark to Raven, who lived during the late Pleistocene?

I loved the saga, and hated it when I had to leave one line of the story to return to the other, only to be drawn into the other with as much interest. For anyone who wonders about our prehistoric ancestors, this book is perfect. The characters are well-limned and the historical detail right up there with Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series.

The author writes the present-day story line in present tense, to differentiate it, and I will admit I found it jarring to switch from past to present initially. Also, the thought processes of Raven and the other Homo sapiens might be more sophisticated than those of an early modern human, although more of their brains were devoted to cognitive function that those of Neanderthals. But then the story would not be nearly as interesting, right?

Hopefully I haven’t given too much away. This is a book I can enthusiastically recommend and I’m looking forward to more from this author!

Book Description

This omnibus edition of The Replacement Chronicles contains Raven’s Choice, Journeys of Choice, and Choices that Cut. 

Two Lives… separated by millennia but nevertheless linked irrevocably. 

What possible link could Mark Hayek, an introverted twenty-first century research scientist, have to Raven, a young healer who lived during the late Pleistocene? It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. 

After Raven heals the captive, he leaves for his tribe, and she tries to forget him as she struggles to remain within the band. But it’s not possible to stay when several band members make her life with the group untenable. Seeking the Neanderthal man she’d helped and facing her fear of being alone on the dangerous steppes, she begins crossing that grassy land—but a woman like Raven isn’t destined to be by herself for long. 

In the future, Mark Hayek is forced into making his own journey when his uncle dies in the Levant. His travels place him firmly in the footsteps of his Neanderthal and Early Modern Human ancestors, crossing the same ancient lands as he struggles against the fate a wayward kinsman has imposed. He’s been made a pawn in a cruel game, but when he encounters a woman being held prisoner in a cave, he seeks a way to save her. Help arrives for the pair, flowing from an unexpected, ancient source, igniting a struggle deep within Mark to accept that the illogical as well as the logical make up existence. 

Peoples come and go, one group replacing another over time, and echoes from ancient events have always affected the future, but Mark and Raven discover that in certain environments echoes are able to bounce back and forth, blurring their origins. 

About the author

Harper Swan

Harper Swan lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and two sweet but very spoiled cats. She is the author of has Gas Heat, a story of family angst taking place in the Deep South, and found the inspiration in the books by Jean Auel. She has drawn on her interests in archaeology, genetics, ancient history and archaeological finds from Paleolithic sites to create the world of the Replacement Chronicles.


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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Cathy reviews Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan

Today we have a review from Cathy, she blogs at


Cathy chose to read and review Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan


This is my first foray into prehistoric fiction. It’s never really appealed before, not sure why, but I found this fascinating and totally intriguing. Mark Heyek from the Parkinson’s Institute is a research scientist working in the field of genetics. Having sent a saliva sample to Genetics and Me, Inc. for further research into Parkinson’s disease, and as lead collaborator, he is invited to attend a meeting. What follows is an amazing fictional, although based on scientific knowledge, look back at the genetics that make up modern man.

The story transports us back thousands of years and introduces Raven, a healer who has lost her husband and, because she’s also childless, has been banished from her tribe. Raven’s sister, Willow, has persuaded her mate, Bear, to allow Raven to join their own tribe. As Bear is bringing Raven home they happen upon a group of trespassing Neanderthals hunting Bison, one of whom is seriously hurt during the hunt. After Bear’s group have taken possession of the Bison meat and the ‘Longheads’ have been sent on their way the injured Neanderthal is taken back to Bear’s tribe. Bear doesn’t want to provoke a war between the tribes so Raven tends to his injuries until he is released. Raven feels an affinity with the ‘Longhead’ and when she awakens one morning to find him gone she follows him to say goodbye. The idea that the choices Raven makes would impact on the genetic history of modern man is incredibly thought-provoking.

Raven’s hard, and sometimes cruel, world is brought vividly to life and even though she has been taken into her sister’s tribe her life, as a woman in those times, is not her own. She’s entirely at the mercy of the tribe leader and bound by their way of life as is shown by Bear’s conduct towards her.

Not only is the order and ranking in tribal law detailed, but also how Early Modern Humans and Neanderthals might have come into contact and reacted with each other.

As Mark finds out, many people including himself, carry Neanderthal genes although he’ll never know for sure the exact circumstances that brought about this occurrence. But it signifies that Early Modern Man didn’t take the place of extinct Neanderthals but rather the races mixed and interbred, which is proved by the presence of Neanderthal DNA in present day man. It’s such an interesting approach to how life might have been all those years ago, and even more so because it’s a very credible scenario.

A wonderfully researched, dramatic and detailed narrative sets the scene for forthcoming instalments of The Replacement Chronicles, which I look forward to following.

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Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan

Raven's Choice (The Replacement Chronicles Book 1)Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raven’s choice is a short historical fiction book, just fifty seven pages long and the first book in The Replacement Chronicles series. It’s like a tantalising introduction to what there is to come. The book has two time settings the first is California in the twenty first century, the second is set in the late Pleistocene era (think early man),

In the present day Mark Hayek works for the Parkinson’s Institute as part of Genetics and Me Inc. He’s recently been asked to provide a saliva sample as part of some routine investigations.

The reader is then taken back in time to meet a group of early humans travelling back to their tribe when they come across a bison hunt led by a despised group they call “Longheads”. Neither of the two groups like or accept each other, their ways being alien to the other group. Yet there are clues that this may well change in the future.

The book ends back in present time looking at Neanderthal ancestry and genetics through the generations, leaving the reader with plenty of questions to be answered in the next book in the series.

This is a good storyline and made me immediately think of very popular Clan Of The Cave Bear series. The present day parts were written in present tense third person and didn’t quite work for me.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan

Today we have a book review from team member Noelle, she blogs at


Noelle chose to read and review Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan


Raven’s Choice: The Replacement Chronicles Part I but Harper Swan

Review by: Noelle Granger


I like books that travel back and forth in time, and this novella didn’t disappoint. The author uses the recent discovery that Neanderthal and Homo sapiens interbred and weaves just such a story. It begins in the present when Mark Hayek finds out from a company called Genetics and Me – which he had hoped would help him with Parkinson’s research – had actually tested his genome for Neanderthal DNA. And found it.

The book then drops back in time to the Late Pleistocene era in western Asia, where a band of early modern humans, led by Bear and including Raven, a healer and sister to his wife, come upon a group of Neanderthals hunting bison. They drive off the Neanderthals and take the bison the group had killed for meat, but also take one who was injured in the attack as a prisoner. Raven takes a deep interest in the man, watching him closely.

Bear throughout treats Raven, the new member of his family, with disdain, but nevertheless takes her as his mate, once the hunters have returned to their tribal home. Raven then uses what little hold she has over Bear to be allowed to reset the prisoner’s dislocated shoulder. As a former EMT, I found the description of this process to be spot on.

Two things occur to confound Raven: her sister treats her coldly in response to Bear’s absence from the tent at night, and suddenly the prisoner is gone, freed to return to his own tribe. Intermingled with Raven’s adventure are details of early human life in tribal groups and wonderful descriptions of the tribal hierarchy, food, and hunting, creating a rich palette against which the story is told.

You absolutely need to read this book to find out how Raven will handle her sister’s rebuke and whether Raven cares enough about the Neanderthal to follow him when he leaves. And what about Mark’s Neanderthal genes?

This story is, to my untrained eyes, meticulously researched, and has a great premise. I am hooked and looking forward to the next novella.

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Good Deeds Challenge, Year 2, Week 42

Welcome to my second Year of Good Deeds, a challenge I set myself during April 2013. I decided to do at least one Good Deed a day for a whole year, now I am into my second year.

New Good DeedsThis week I’ve been doing the following;

February 1st – Online versions of the two magazines that I write book reviews for went to 7000 local homes and the online version went live today. Each magazine prints 5 of my book review recommendations for a total of 10 lucky authors. It’s been windy and there was loads of litter to pick up on my daily walk.

February 2nd – My morning at school volunteering my help to children learning to read. Just finished reading Yesterday’s News by Sam Cheever a cosy fun mystery. Picked up litter on my walk.

February 3rd – Am reading Walking the Edge by Zee Monodee a romantic suspense. Really busy day, but managed a late walk and picked up litter.

February 4th – Today I read Raven’s Choice by Harper Swan a short historical fiction and an introduction to a series about man’s genetic descent from the caveman. Each day I try to take a forty minute power walk and I pick up litter on my route.

February 5th – Helping out a new author find her way around the book reviewing scene. Read Baby Girl Book 4 by Elle Klass.

February 6th – Today I’m reading Mrs McKeiver’s Secrets by Margaret Morgan set in rural England in 1799. An icy blast was blowing when I went for today’s walk, but still found litter to pick up.

February 7th – I’ve lent some of my books out today, then whilst I was out for my walk I was astounded to find a think metal cable deliberately tied low across the path in a gloomy alley. It would have caused an accident to any cyclist, jogger, skateboarder or even another walker as I only just saw it in time. I decided to remove it completely and place it in a rubbish bin a little way away, to deter it being retied later. I have no idea why it was put there, kids? Angry residents if kids use it at night as a race track? But I don’t believe deliberately trying to endanger innocents should be allowed.

Reading What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan by Jill Knapp.