Throwback Thursday this week travels way back in time with The Replacement Chronicles.
I read the first of the Replacement Chronicles, Raven’s Choice, in early 2015 and loved it. As that is included in this omnibus, I’ll add my thoughts from the previous review.
Mark Heyek from the Parkinson’s Institute is a research scientist working in the field of genetics. Having sent a saliva sample to Genetics and Me, Inc. for further research into Parkinson’s disease, and as lead collaborator, he is invited to attend a meeting. What follows is an amazing fictional, although based on scientific knowledge, look back at the genetics that make up modern man.
While Greg works through his notecards, Mark contemplates the Neanderthal on his T-shirt, and his surroundings fade. He wonders what his Neanderthal and Early Modern Human ancestors would have thought if they’d known that one day, in the distant future, some of their descendants would throw a party for the sole purpose of celebrating their commingling.
The story then transports us back thousands of years and introduces Raven, a healer whose mate died, and because she’s on her own and childless, has been banished from her tribe. Raven’s sister, Willow, has persuaded her mate, Bear, to allow Raven to join their own tribe. As Bear is bringing Raven home they happen upon a group of trespassing Neanderthals hunting Bison, one of whom is seriously hurt during the hunt.
After Bear’s group have taken possession of the Bison meat and the ‘Longheads’ have been sent on their way the injured Neanderthal is taken back to Bear’s tribe. Bear doesn’t want to provoke a war between the tribes so Raven tends to his injuries until he is released. There’s a marked affinity between Raven and the ‘Longhead’ and when she awakens one morning to find him gone, she follows him to say goodbye. The idea of the choice Raven makes that day impacting on the genetic history of modern man is fascinating.
Raven’s life with her sister’s tribe is hard, she is at the mercy of Bear, the tribe leader, as he tries to impregnate her. Women who don’t bear children are expendable. At Willow’s instigation, she faces the prospect of a binding ceremony to proclaim her position as Bear’s second mate.
Raven’s heart softened. Willow had been trying to save her when she’d persuaded Bear to fetch her younger sister from their old band. If not for Willow, she would have been cast out, an unwanted woman given as a slave to a distant, unknown tribe.
Raven is eventually driven from her sister’s tribe, despite Willow’s efforts, and sets out to make her way across unforgiving lands, facing an uncertain fate. And although she wouldn’t be alone for very long, there were still many dangers to face.
In the future, as Mark finds out, many people including himself, carry Neanderthal genes although he’ll never know for sure the exact circumstances that brought about this occurrence. But it points to the fact that Early Modern Man didn’t take the place of extinct Neanderthals but rather the races mixed and interbred, which is proven by the presence of Neanderthal DNA in present day man. It’s such an interesting approach to how life might have been all those thousands of years ago.
When circumstances prompt Mark to travel to the Levant to collect his uncle’s ashes, and meet his cousin for the first time, his footsteps eerily trace those of his early ancestors. His journey proves to be a complicated and life threatening one and the two worlds overlap in an extraordinary and uncanny way.
This well written, imaginative and obviously extremely well researched story is a richly historical and credible account of a very distant past and the impact on us all. Characters are distinct and believable, the landscape of the late Pleistocene, it’s flora and fauna, all vividly described, prompting clear images throughout.
About the Book
What possible link could Mark Hayek, an introverted twenty-first century research scientist, have to Raven, a young healer who lived during the late Pleistocene? It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. After Raven heals the captive, he leaves for his tribe, and she tries to forget him as she struggles to remain within the band. But it’s not possible to stay when several band members make her life with the group untenable.