This debut omnibus unites all three installments of a story that connects a pregnant woman in the late Pleistocene era with her modern-day descendant, a researcher who gets entangled in a terrorist plot.
Raven is an early human woman who is forced to join her sister’s clan after her mate dies. Her sister’s husband and clan leader, Bear, treats Raven with disdain when he is not sharing her bed. When they encounter an injured Neanderthal man—scornfully referred to as a “Longhead” by the clan—Raven uses her skills as a healer to nurse him back to health. Upon realizing she is pregnant, and that the likely father is the Longhead, not Bear, Raven flees the clan to find and hopefully join the Longheads, all the while wondering what the offspring of these two distantly related but still very different groups of people will be like: “Those heavy brows and the heavily muscled build made an unattractive combination when she struggled to imagine a female infant.” In the present day, Mark Hayek, a Parkinson’s disease researcher in whose veins runs the blood of Neanderthals thanks to a union between them and the early humans, must travel to the Levant to sort out a family inheritance. But he soon realizes that his cousin Antun may be under the sway of a terrorist group known as the Lions of the Levant and may be manipulating Mark for selfish gains. Swan is clearly heavily influenced by Jean Auel, although her writing is less explicit than that of The Clan of the Cave Bear author. Raven’s story vastly outshines that of the hapless Mark, who frequently comes off as astonishingly and annoyingly naïve. The differences between early humans and the Neanderthal Longheads should fascinate readers (At one point, Raven observes: “Stories she heard about the Longheads hadn’t prepared her to expect that the forms below would look so much like actual men. Their bodies were broader, and something was off about their arms and legs”). And the prehistoric world, filled with bison, hyenas, wolves, and two-legged predators, is portrayed in all of its harsh, hostile glory.
A time-hopping tale that should appeal to readers with an interest in the prehistoric period.