Monday, August 19, 2013

Troll by Richard Sutton

At what point did humanity learn to fear each other? To hate? Paleo-Anthropologist Arial Connor thinks she knows. She just can't prove it yet, but her newest find, high in a Norwegian Valley may give her the proof she needs. Those scary stories we've told our children to keep them from roaming too far outside the gleam of the porch light may have come from real incidents, many, many years ago. While Dr. Connor's excavation continues, the story of what happened is slowly being revealed.

Two clans are converging on the remaining game lands. One will have to leave their homes, one will tell stories and sing songs of their own bravery. One people will disappear while another will bring their history into the modern world. One way of life will be lost, but does the better way endure? What have we learned from the ancients that would have been better forgotten? Troll explores these questions and asks a few more as well.

Prehistoric fiction is a rarity, so it was with great interest that I read Troll. Like all books in this genre, the author provides great descriptions to give good understanding of the tools, scenery, and way of life of the period. The story takes place in Scandanavia and is about two factions of people. One group is highly developed and clearly resembles human beings. The other group is somewhat Neanderthal, part way between human and ape. These are the trolls. The two groups fear each other. Yet when a child of the human clan falls ill, it is a woman of the troll clan who offers the secret red flowers that will cure the child.

The characters are fascinating and the story is riveting and believable. Instead of making them primitive and primal, author Richard Sutton has made them human, credible, and easy to identify with. His interpretation of the period is well researched without bogging down the pace of the story. The conflict takes time to gather momentum and it is not until after the first third of the book that the story begins to truly take hold and fascinate. The events that unfold are plausible and the author writes with enough clarity and conviction that it evokes empathy and a realm of other emotions from the reader.

I found myself questioning what it meant to truly be human. Is it one’s appearance? Or knowledge? Or skill? Or rather is it how we interact with others of different races and cultures? How is superiority determined? These are some of the questions that raced through my mind as I read the story to its satisfying conclusion.

This is a gentle, easy read with depth, a pleasant change from other more highly read genres of historical fiction. A lovely book indeed and definitely recommended. 

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