SINGLETUSK by Bjorn Kurten


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From Swedish paleontologist Kurten, a delightful adventure of a young Ice Age man on a quest into the unknown. Singletusk takes place 30,000 years BP (before present, in paleontological lingo) and it's a sequel to Kurten's Dance of the Tiger, which told the story of Tiger, a Homo sapiens who wandered into a Neanderthal community and became the catalyst for the commingling of two cultures, the old and the new. Now, a generation later, the Whites (the Neanderthals) live peaceably with the Blacks (the sapients), trading off skills (the Whites are fierce hunters, but the Blacks are better with sophisticated weapons) and interbreeding. When Baywillow is badly hurt during a bison hunt, his son Whitespear is sent off to find a fabled healer; from here on, his journey becomes a coming-of-age saga. He and his companion Avens (his half-sister) find a village full of Browns (hybrid and sterile offspring of Blacks and Whites) and bring a healer home with them, but he is unable to do anything for Baywillow, and so Whitespear sets off again, going farther and farther north through the European wilderness. By the time he finally does return, Baywillow has died, but Whitespear has become a man. A complex story at times, mainly because of what even Kurten calls, in an Introduction. the ""chaotic"" family ties--you need a score card to keep your Blacks, Whites and Browns straight (Whitespear, for instance, turns out to be not Baywillow's son, but his nephew). But this is no grunting cave-man tale, it's a delicate and convincing evocation of what life very well might have been like 30,000 years ago (several of the scenes--a fight between two mammoths, for instance--have been reconstructed from fossil remains). Altogether, then, thoughtful entertainment with a YA tilt.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 1986
Publisher: Pantheon