Reindeer Moon Author:Elizabeth Marshall Thomas "My name was Yanan, and my story began where it ended, in Graylag's lodge on the highest terrace above the north bank of the Char River." The plain opening sentence of this deeply absorbing story will be remembered for a long time, for Reindeer Moon may well come to be regarded as the supreme contemporary novel of our prehistory. It opens up cor... more »ridors to the imagination that lead us back toward the long echoes of our distant human past, and its characters, as vivid as any alive, live on in the mind long after the book has been set down.
Reindeer Moon is the first novel, but not the first book, by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of classic anthropological accounts of hunters and gatherers. Yanan, its headstrong heroine, lived twenty thousand years ago near Woman Lake in central Siberia among places you will not find on any modern map. Yanan, only thirteen when her story begins, is passionate and courageous, and her companions -- hunters of deer, gatherers of roots and twigs, shamans, babies at the breast -- are all, like her, bound to the harsh realities of hunger, cold, death by violence or childbirth, and the cycles of love and jealosy, of marriage and kinship. As Yanan recounts the terrible adventures of her brief life she departs, from time to time, on spirit journeys that evoke the lives of animals with extraordinary intimacy, for Yanan's fate is like ours but conceived in different terms.
The forces in Yanan's spiritual world take the forms of wolf and raven, bear and horse, cave lion and mammoth, since hunting peoples, looking to animals as the source of all life, know that wild beasts live in een closer intimacy with nature than humans can. Reindeer Moon throbs with the sensuousness of animal life as it throws light and shadow on the yearnings of our ancestors, facing daily the danger of extinction but trying to keep the peace. "Are we animals that we should fight?" the people ask one another. No, they are not; but yes, alas, they do.« less