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Beyond the Sea of Ice, by William Sarabande

Bantam Books published the book, Beyond the Sea of Ice, by William Sarabande, in December of 1987. This novel of historical fiction is 370 pages of a compelling story of a small band of humans surviving during the Ice Age over 20,000 years ago. I believe the author purposed to teach how the people of this age lived, and as such researched many hours with the help of various museums and archeologists.

The story seems to be teaching of the value of life, for the other bands sacrifice human children to please their gods; yet the idea the main character, Torka, has of not wasting life is looked upon as evil, and his group is driven from all other people for their values. This immersive novel shows the daily and overall life of early man better than any text I have ever seen. In my eyes the author completed their purpose superbly.

The daily life of the characters is described so well that it would be possible to reconstruct exactly what they did, and the author did this in such a way that the book is never boring and I was never compelled to skip parts. An example of the amazing description is on page 70, where Torka and his family, Lonit, Umak, and Karana, build a pit hut in the snow with mammoth bones and animal skins.

The many hunts the characters go out on are shown in great detail, as in the first hunt when the hunters prepare by clothing themselves in caribou hide and antlers, soak their skin in caribou juice from the hides, and stalk the prey across miles of barren terrain in the Times Without Light (when the sun would not show for almost six months). The social structure of the bands is described in detail throughout the book, from Galeena’s filthy, crude band who become covered in a glacier to the Ghost Men who live underground and prey on their fellow man, who are annihilated by Torka and Navahk’s band.

The author seems to wish to show the value of life, for Torka for a time is part of each of these bands until they do something that violates Torka’s person code and he is driven from their camp or leaves of his own accord (such as when he discovers the Ghost Men hunt other humans and he leaves). All in all, the author left no ideas or points out and showed a complete view of the lives of these enigmatic people. The story overall is well written and, while not a particularly easy read, does not require a dictionary to understand the words the characters use.

All of the characters, except Navahk, are very believable and can be related to. The one who is not realistic is not so because I cannot conceive a person can be so completely and utterly deceptive and evil, although I have heard of people doing worse things than he. Throughout the book many subplots arise, some of them being solved in the later books (Corridor of Storms, Forbidden Land, and Walkers of the Wind) but at least in this story all of them are completely believable if you assume the characters point of view of the gods and spirits they believe in.

The style of the author is very clear and eloquent, causing me to label this book “a real page turner. The whole subject of the story seems important to me, in that life is valuable but when someone/something is so totally evil that it must be cleansed by death, and the author was never boring in expressing the idea. I personally liked the entire book and look forward to reading the sequels again.

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