The Horsemasters: 2a Novel of Prehistory

Joan Wolf, Author
Joan Wolf, Author Dutton Books $22 (416p) ISBN 978-0-525-93589-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-451-40505-0
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Despite its ambitious and imaginative subject, Wolf's second novel set in a prehistoric era is disappointing. Beginning 50 years after Daughter of the Red Deer , it investigates the Magdelenian culture of Paleolithic Southern Europe through the story of Ronan and his bittersweet struggle for survival. His mother Arika, Mistress of the Tribe of the Red Deer, spurns Ronan at birth, foreseeing and fearing the authority he could grow up to wield over her people. Cast from his community, Ronan begins a fight for the preservation of his life and that of his Kindred, a quest that will carry him through treacherous mountain passes, across snow-laden valleys and along a River of Gold to a final encounter with the deadly Horsemasters. Unfortunately, the novel is pedestrian both in its uninspiring themes and in its repetitious, cliche-laden prose, which features stilted dialogue that tends to blur the characters, since they all sound the same. Numerous (if sometimes predictable) plot developments and a touching relationship between Ronan and his wife Nel provide some motivation to finish the book, but overall this is an uncompelling read. ( May )
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