The Dawning: 31,000 BC
WRITTEN BY RICHARD W. WISE
REVIEW BY ANNA BELFRAGE
"A truly fascinating subject, which Mr. Wise handles with evident aplomb."
I recently saw a documentary about the Lagar Vehlo child, a prehistoric skeleton discovered in Portugal twenty or so years ago. What is fascinating about this find is that it is evidently a mix between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens—and that segues rather nicely into Mr. Wise's story set so far into the past the Neanderthals still roamed the world.
Humans have always been wary of strangers, and this rule applies to the past as well, where our very distant ancestors want as little as possible to do with the stocky and fair-skinned people who live such rustic and primitive lives (!). When two young girls are abducted by a party of Neanderthals, their surviving tribesmen vow to rescue them, which proves harder than they thought.
The Neanderthals have a reason for abducting young, potentially fertile, women. Their women rarely conceive, and the Lion Clan has so few children it is evident they have no future unless, somehow, they manage to reverse the trend. Which is why Scar, the leader of the clan, decides to steal away the two girls, knowing full well this may lead to violent retribution. Our young female protagonist, Lada, is to end up torn in two between hate for the man who abducted her but also a growing tenderness for the same man, now that they have a baby together.
Mr. Wise spins a good tale, capably supported by strong descriptive writing and a cast of interesting characters—from the doomed Scar, to Lada and the very young shaman Ejil. And then, of course, there is little Efram, the baby that carries the DNA of both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens—just like that little child discovered in Lagar Vehlo does! A truly fascinating subject, which Mr. Wise handles with evident aplomb.