Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Book Review of #1 The Year the Horses Came by Mary Mackey
Author Name: Mary Mackey
Publisher: Harper Collins
Type of book: Adult, pre-historical fiction
Year it was published: 1993
Part of a Series: Horses at the gate, Fires of spring, afterwards
The year is 4372 B.C.E a beautiful girl is poised on the brink of womanhood and her culture is about to undergo one of the most momentous transformations in human history.
So begins Mary Mackey's dazling tale, a page-turning saga that revisits the wild and panoramic beauty of ancient Europe to tell a story of extraordinary love and passion in the midst of intrigue and war.
The Year the Horses came vividly evokes the violent moment in prehistory when marauding nomads brought horses, male gods and war to a Europe that had known peace for thousands of years. Against this perilous backdrop, a passionate, dangerous love develops between Marrah, a brave and gifted priestess, and Stavan, one of hte warriors sent to invade her peace-loving land. Brilliantly capturing the lives of those women and men caught in this life-shattering crossfire, Mackey traces the young Marrah's treacherous path across Europe, from the shores of Brittany and hte cave paintings of western France to the temples of Sardinia and the Steppes of the East. Though Marrah finds barbarism, the brutalization of women, and environmental destruction, her stunning journey also reveals the human capacity for love, compassion, and enduring faith.
In some ways this is not a cookie cutter novel, at least when it comes to characters and the changes they struggle through to reach the place of equality. What did seem cookie cutter is the depiction of the two cultures, that of Marrah's is seen as the good or ideal, while Stavan's is the present and the past. It really does cause me to doubt the author's research. Why were the cultures so clear cut and dry? Why didn't Marrah's culture have some negative aspects added on to it, while there could have been some positive aspects about Stavan's culture? No single culture is bad or good but all are in between. Thankfully, at least, the characters are portrayed as more dimensional and were a bit engaging.
Just like in many other novels I have read, the theme seems to be overcoming society to be with someone you love, and that does include overcoming the language barriers and whatnot. Basically, what the author is trying to ask, 'what's wrong with living in peace?' or, 'why couldn't we people live in peace?' unfortunately we can't because of the inequality of resources all over the world along with environmental issues.
I actually enjoyed the contrast that she showed between the 'ideal' world when it came to Marrah's culture, and the brutality of Stavan's culture. The first half of the book if not more focuses on Marrah's journey from place to place as she brings the message of the eight legged monsters to villagers, while the other half focuses on Marrah's stay in Stavan's culture which isn't pleasant.
Mary Maceky is the author of six novels, including A Grand Passion, THe kindness of strangers, and season of shadows. A poet, screenwriter, and critic, she cofounded the Feinimist Writers' Guild and is a professor of ENglish and Writer-in-residence at California State University, Sacramento.
When I first got the book, I couldn't put it down. I devoured it eagerly, no matter that I had classes the next day and so on. The world and the writing is very intriguing and you can't help but become addicted to it, turning from one page to another, disbelieving what you are reading. In the first half you are exposed to Marrah's world as she travels to warn of the nomads and learns about pottery and whatnot. In second half, you get exposed to Stavan's world, and the danger facing Marrah. The effect is very jarring and well done.
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)