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Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Misfits & Heroes: West From Africa

Don't let the cover fool you:
it's not a Western.
This novel has an agenda: the author wants to correct any lingering notions that ancient humans were primitive in any way or incapable of complex thought. Though the story takes place in 12,000 BCE, the characters in Misfits & Heroes have intricate societies, elaborate artwork and a full range of baser instincts and noble emotions.

Throughout the surprisingly fast-paced plot, the reader comes across nuggets of wisdom recognizable as the origins of several different schools of thought that have lasted to the present day. I strongly sympathized with Asha and Naaba, but even minor characters have realistic psychological characteristics, and motives we might not understand are fully explained in the context of this nascent society, though never in a patronizing way.

Everything in the book is believable because of the masterful descriptions of the way the humans interact with the natural world, something that seems kind of foreign today. The idea that ancient people might have made it to South America from Africa is fascinating in itself, and the author manages to throw in weddings, wars, hunting, and artistic creation to make each step long the journey just as interesting for its own sake.

I'm a fan of historical fiction, and this prehistorical book would be right at home with the most vivid books about better-documented times.

Please join me here on Wednesday for a fascinating guest post by the author, Kathleen Flanagan Rollins.