THE YEAR THE HORSES CAME by Mary Mackey

THE YEAR THE HORSES CAME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The author of 20th-century heartstring dramas (Season of Shadows, 1991, etc.) travels back to prehistory (as in The Last Warrior Queen, 1983) to center her exemplary heroine in the Brittany of 4372 B.C.--and in the heart of Earth Mother goddess worship. To the east of the peaceful, creative peoples, however, are the patriarchal tribes of the steppes, where women--and life itself--are little valued. Doom is on the way, and lovers from two cultures find themselves in the thick of horror. It is on her coming-of-age day that Marrah finds and rescues the odd-looking stranger who's lying on the beach, almost drowned, after his boat has sunk. Eventually, the language barrier overcome, Marrah learns that this young, blond man, Stavan, is the youngest son of the Great Chief of the Hansi, horsemen and warriors who roam the Sea of Grass, killing and conquering. Marrah is amazed by the Hansi's lack of egalitarian, life-giving values: ``...slaves, wars, concubines...your people sound horrible.'' Yes, indeed, and Stavan warns that they are on the way west. Now, Stavan, in love with Marrah and respecting her people, offers to try to deflect the Great Chief; Marrah and younger brother Arang will also journey--to warn other of the matristic peoples. The journey takes them through welcoming villages, forests, and religious places, but then disaster strikes, and Marrah and Arang are captured. There's an orgy of violence and cruelty, leading to a (literally) graveside escape. Mackey's message concerning patriarchal bloody swords vs. matriarchal plowshares sounds like a rallying trumpet. Certainly the Earth Mother worship--consisting of ``eating well, singing beautifully, enjoying themselves and making love,'' imagined from rose-colored mists of the past--is appealing. Overall: a competent adventure, with characters chatting easily in a modern idiom, for the Bradley/Auel readership. (First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-250735-4
Page count: 400pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993




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