SONG OF THE AXE by John R. Dann


Email this review


Is there any shaman-reviewer with magic strong enough to lay claws on this first novel about Hell Beast and Ka, Kane and Eran, Agon and Eena and Sagon and Elina—figures whose spirit-song whistles through an epic set 30,000 years ago, when all existence was a snake pit of souls writhing in rock and water, axe and lightning bolt?

Prehistorian Dann's cave-dwelling lovers, Agon and Eena, are Cro-Magnons whom he sees as "modern-looking" and imbued with all the emotional qualities of humans today. They're tremendously spiritual, too, reading signs of spirit-life wherever they look. Dann's folk live in Eurasia during an interglacial period when great rivers race everywhere, helping account for frequent avalanches and monstrously frenzied storms, including massive lightning bolts that can explode trees, crack rock, and split open mountains should the plot call for it. When Eena first meets Agon, a bison-hunt leader, she sees that "he moved with the strength of a young lion, his magic so strong it radiated from him like heat from a fire." As time passes, Eena, abrim with her own magic tie to Mother Earth, earns the title of Spear Woman and Agon that of Axe Man. His amazing axe—an antler handle with head bound by thongs—whirls so fast that it sings as it disappears when thrown toward a victim. Agon's axe song alone can fight the vicious spearmen of the tribe of invaders led by Ka, a shaman who is evil incarnate. When Ka destroys Agon's tribe and snatches off Eena, Agon must pursue the demon to recover his pregnant beloved. Then a falling star blots out the sun—for how long? Agon at last becomes a titanic figure, feared by enemies bent on murdering him, even his own son Eran.

Impressive research lends flintiness to a work that holds up well indeed to Jean Auel's Earth's Children trilogy.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-86984-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001