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Review: A Saga of the Reindeer People by Megan Lindholm

By / July 31, 2012 / no comments

Megan Lindholm is the pseudonym that Robin Hobb uses sometimes. Famous for her series The Farseer and Liveship Traders Trilogies, she occassionaly writes under Megan Lindholm because by her own admission, stories written by Megan Lindholm are very different from those of Robin Hobb; this is very apparent when reading A Saga of the Reindeer People, which consists of the The Reindeer People and Wolf’s Brother books. It also comes as no surprise that these two books were initially both contained within the same manuscript and a decision to split the story into two was only made as the publisher felt that 624 pages did not fit into a standard paperback. Obviously this was before the days of Steven Erikson who considers anything less than 1,000 pages to be short!

The story was also originally conceived to take place in a complete fantasy world but at the suggestion of Lindholm’s editor it was set in the real world during the Bronze Age in Lapland (Scandinavia). This historical setting automatically lends itself to comparison with Jean Auel’s, The Clan of the Cave Bear series. However, given some 25,000 years actually separates the events that take place between the series and the two authors have vastly different writing styles, any comparison is quite superficial.

The story’s underlying themes are of survival, self-discovery and vengeance as it follows an autistic boy, Kerlew, and his healer mother, Tillu as they are forced to abandon their community due to the unwanted advances of the shaman, Carp, who not only wishes to force Tillu to his will, but also to take Kerlew as his apprentice. Both Tillu and her son seem destined to spend their life living on the fringes of society when they come across a man of the herdfolk, Heckram, who seems able to look past Kerlew’s strange ways and an opportunity presents itself for them both to be accepted into a community once again. But assimilation is never easy, and are Tillu and Kerlew simply trading one set of problems for another?

What Lindholm does extremely well and what also is reminiscent of her Hobb stories, is to emotionally draw the reader in. Within a handful of pages I felt connected to the main characters and had experienced anger at the way in which Kerlew was unfairly treated due to his differences and pity for his mother. Lindholm doesn’t hold back her punches when meting out the suffering and physical harm to the characters in the books. Lindholm is also able to use her experience of an Alaskan childhood and what is obviously some pretty extensive research to give the book credible realism, such that the reader feels transported back in time to the frozen tundra of prehistoric Northern Europe.

Do not come expecting magic, swordplay or high politics that characterise a Robin Hobb story as you will be disappointed. The story is extremely fantasy-lite and consists only of a sprinkling of shamanistic spirituality moments that could be construed as being “magical”. If you like good writing and enjoy being emotionally involved in a story and would like a change of pace from more classical fantasy writing, then you should give A Saga of the Reindeer People a read.

3 swords out of 5

“Review written by Antoxx for Bestfantasybooks.com”

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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