Man becoming human is the theme of this taut, sombre novel first published in France in 1911 and widely known abroad. In a succession of terrifying encounters with animals and men of many sorts, Naoh, son of the Leopard, seeks and brings back Fire to his tribe, the Oulhamrs; but the spark he carries in a cage becomes merely symbolic of his strength and cunning, for he has learned the secret of striking stones ""and now the fire would be forever his."" And he has learned more--compassion for his enemies and tenderness toward his companions. Throughout, the fecundity of nature and the unrelenting struggle for existence predominate, but there are stirrings of another sort--Naoh making an alliance with the mammoths, sensing the intellectual superiority of the hideous Thin Men, looking forward to life with Gammla, his lithe and mysterious prize. A compelling experience for the reader on his own quest.