The Reindeer Hunters

Joan Wolf, Author Dutton Books $20.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-93848-4
With assured plotting, pacing and characterization, Wolf (The Horsemasters) again convincingly imagines prehistoric people and events, this time transporting readers to the Europe of 12,000 years ago. When reindeer-essential for food, clothing and tools-begin to leave European lowland valleys for more abundant mountain pastures, it looks as though the matriarchal Kindred tribe will have to fight the patriarchal Norakamo nomads for new land and hunting rights. But Rorig, chief of the Kindred, and Tedrik, head of the Norakamo, wisely agree on a marriage between Tedrik's daughter, Alane, and Rorig's son, Nardo, a union that eventually unites their tribes, despite opposition from Nardo's powerful mother, Mara, and other enemies in both groups. Peace is short-lived, however, for soon the fierce Redu, who use bows and arrows, invade the mountain pastures even as Alane and Nardo struggle with cultural differences-and with sabotage by Mara, who fears the dissolution of matriarchal power. Matters come to a head in a dramatic battle whose conclusion finds Alane and Nardo positing a wise and hopeful resolution to the survivors of all three tribes. Despite some jarring anachronisms (after a fall, Nardo says, ``I think I have a concussion''), this is, overall, a vividly told escape into the past. Literary Guild selection. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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