978-0-06-105135-7 / 9780061051357

Longtusk (Mammoth Trilogy, Bk. 2)


Publisher:Harper Voyager


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About the book:

Stephen Baxter's "Mammoth" sequence is frequently compared to Watership Down, with woolly mammoths rather than rabbits undertaking heroic quests and spinning their own rich mythology. Silverhair (1999) followed the hardships of a mammoth family that survived into modern times. Now that book's heroine Silverhair remembers the much-embroidered legends of distant ancestor Longtusk, a mammoth who did great deeds as the Ice Age dwindled in 16,000 BC.

Of course the real Longtusk doesn't quite match the myth, and we first meet him as a sulkily egotistic 12 year old:

He was Longtusk! The greatest hero in the world! Why couldn't anybody see that?
Fate has a tricky way of giving you what you want, but the path to heroism is long and painful. Separated from his family group by headstrong folly and then by a fire sweeping over the steppe, Longtusk lives for a while with a fading tribe of Neanderthal "Dreamers", only to be enslaved by the dread "Fireheads" who have mastered fire--that is, humans.

His ultimate destiny is to lead his family to safety far away from the Fireheads, on an epic trek over the land bridge then existing between Asia and America, with a terrible though glitteringly described crossing of the ice itself. But Longtusk knows that the Fireheads will always follow if they can. His triumphant last stand against them brings about a colossal upheaval in Baxter's most earth-shattering SF manner, and wins Longtusk his deserved place in legend. This is a worthy successor to Silverhair. --David Langford

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