Adin: A Novel of Prehistory
Adin’Ur is torn between respect and fear for the shamanic religion of his people, between devotion to his tribe and protection for his son, and ultimately between expectation and destiny. Grandson to Ja’Ur, the first man to ride a horse, and son of the current weik-polis, Adin is proud of his Kurgan family and heritage, until his parents arrange for him to marry a woman he has never met. His new wife, Fi’Me, is beautiful but cold, and Adin quickly becomes distrustful of her. After the birth of their first child, Fi’Me’s dark, self-interested nature becomes even more apparent. For the well-being of his child, Adin decides to leave his village. He and his son, along with an old friend, travel among various Kurgan villages, spreading the history of their people and the knowledge of horsemanship, all the while pursued by vindictive Scythians and a spectral Fi’Me.
Even though it is a novel of prehistory, Adin’Ur’s world is brought clearly to life. The environment of the novel is as compelling, if not more so, than the characters who inhabit it. Descriptions of everyday life on the ancient Asian steppe – the flowers that grew there, the intensity of the snowfall, how its inhabitants ate and lived, along with rituals of birth, marriage, death and battle, are presented with a clarity and authority that reveal extensive research.
The novel’s weak spots are its too frequent distance from the action of the story and its glossing over of large portions of time, which leave the reader feeling slightly disoriented and shut out. Greater immediacy and presence would have made the characters and their struggles much more compelling. Despite this, the plot is well designed and engaging, and the characters are on the whole believable, even if they are not as fleshed out as the world they inhabit.