Today we have a review from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com
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.