Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin

I finished another book it was Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin. It was a good book, well written. It's the story of a young girl named Snap set half a million years ago in Africa. The author skilfully weaves together known archaeological evidence to tell a believable and compelling story. In the book they don't yet have speech and use sign language to communicate which helps put the reader into that time.

In Austin's view the primitive societies are led by women. The related women live together year round in settlements. During the summer months the women and children migrate to harvest grown food. The men spend the summer away from the tribe hunting and trading and rejoin in the fall. Men join a different tribe than they grew up in and women stay in the tribe of their birth. In the fall there is a ceremony and the women by rank choose their mate which is just for that fall-spring.

Live is dangerous back then and the early people are often hunted as much as hunting. Having to dodge lions, leopards, hyenas, rhinos, scorpions. The author also explores themes such as emergence of pagan religion, male dominated societies, permanent mates, tribal conflict and wars. I wonder if there's an element of fantasy in Austin's writing of women dominated societies and the men having to compete every year for mates while the women get to pick and choose.

The writer is an interesting person. A former obstetrician who got into writing using her interest in paleoanthropology. You can tell in her narrative of Snap's gestation that she is in her comfort zone in that area.

This was a kind of different book for me. I had pretty much used up the Michael Crichton series so looking for something new. I used the second hand on my watch to just select a random shelf and I required myself to just pick from that shelf. So that's how I found this book. There's some hit and miss with that approach. There's been a couple of interesting books like this one. As well as some bad books which I just quit on after 20 pages or less. And that's fine. I just take 3-4 from the library and if a couple don't work out then just move on.

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