The Horses at the Gate

Mary Mackey, Author HarperOne $16 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-251069-3
While this may intrigue devotees of the Goddess, most fantasy readers and admirers of Jean Auel will find it trying. This sequel to The Year of the Horses continues the story of Marrah, one of the gentle matriarchal Motherpeople about to be overrun by the dreadful patriarchal nomads. In book One, Marrah was abducted by the nomads along with her brother Arang and her lover, Stavan, a nomad who had converted to the pacific ways of Marrah's people. Here, the three escape the nomadic Hansi and make their way back to the Motherlands. As luck (or history) would have it, they can't escape. When a nomad raiding party kidnaps Arang and Marrah's son, Stavan heads back north while Marrah becomes ``war queen'' in an effort to save her city. There is some absorbing detail about the period based largely on the work of the late European archeologist and author of The Civilization of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas. But the characterizations of both groups are simplistic: e.g., the Motherpeople's daily activities include dancing naked by firelight, picking berries, sex and sacred rituals; nomads' include face scarring, rape, torture and drinking curdled mare's milk. The individual characters are also flatly didactic and humorless, and the dialogue can be downright awful (``Great Goddess, Morningstar, my dear, what terror you inspired!''). The truth is the Motherpeople as portrayed here are so cloying and tiresome that it's hard to mourn their passing. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-451-40723-8
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-595-31124-8
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