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Reindeer Moon Hardcover – February 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Juv) (February 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395421128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395421123
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Those familiar with the author's landmark study, The Harmless People, will not be surprised at the range of anthropological information she brings to her first novel, or at the lucidity of her prose. What will astonish, engross and move readers in her narrative of a group of hunter-gatherers who lived 20,000 years ago is the dramatic immediacy of the story and the depth and range of character development. A whole culture is imaginatively and authoritatively illuminated, people who live in lodges observing a complex series of societal rules and taboos built around the interrelationships between families that constitute a lineage. It is a life of privation, in which hunger, danger and violence are pervasive. Survival depends on close observation of and intimacy with the animals they use both as role models and as food, and an understanding of the seasonal rhythms governing the annual migrations. We meet the protagonist, Yanen, as a young girl, living with her family in what is now Siberia. Just a few chapters into the narrative, she dies and becomes a spirit who must serve the members of her lodge by finding food for them, often by taking on the form and behavioral characteristics of animals or birds. The story proceeds in flashback as Yanen relates the memories of her youth: the death of her mother after childbirth and of her father from hunting wounds, leaving Yanen and her baby sister alone in desolate country; their fearsome trek to rejoin other members of their lineage; Yanen's marriage; the rash deeds that cut her off from the people she loves and the tragic mistake that seals her fate. Thomas never romanticizes her characters, nor does she demean them by arch language or a patronizing tone. Yanen is an enchanting young woman: intelligent and courageous, an excellent hunter, but also headstrong and hot-tempered. Other characters are equally as vivid, and as involving of the reader's emotions. Suspenseful, insightful, poignant, this novelthe first to be issued under the Davison imprintis a remarkable achievement.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Twenty thousand years ago in prehistoric Siberia a young girl named Yandan lived and died. Now, as a spirit, she tells the story of her life, a continuous struggle to survive. A noted anthropologist, the author is very concerned with describing the relationship between human and animal. Thus, in Reindeer Moon people take a back seat to nature. Just as the reader is engrossed in one of Yandan's life experiences, the scene shifts to an account of one of Yandan's spirit journeys, a confusing device, and one that detracts from both storylines. Comparisons between Reindeer Moon and Clan of the Cave Bear ( LJ 9/1/80) are bound to arise. Like Jean Auel, Thomas has a difficult time making prehistoric sex anything but laughable. Reindeer Moon lacks the "popular touch" that makes Auel's books best sellers; yet readers interested in the period and with an eye to nature might enjoy this. Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 34 customer reviews
Simply one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.
David Abram
All of the characters are well developed and above all, easy to read emotionally.
Canoe Junkie
An especially good portrayal of an adolescent character.
K. Freeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Heather Hays on July 13, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One thing, I thought the clan of the cavebear lacked, even though it was an excellent book, was the raw sensations of living in a primeval world.
This book does give you this impression, and it is a lasting one. In this book, you are cold, and hungry and lost in a world full of predators. The brutality of each day is brought out to it's fullest, the emptiness of the space around you. The winters are freezing, and the summers are brief and fleeting and bittersweet.
The relationships between the characters are for the most part, well done. The one between Yanan and her sister Meri was especially well done. In the beginning, Yanan looks at her as spoiled brat. Later on, in the journey home they bond rather well. The book demonstrates this to us and does not tell this to us.
Another thing worth mentioning is how well Elizabeth Marshall Thomas writes the various animals that inhabit the tundra. You can almost see the mammoth storming across the plains and the yellow gleam of a wolf's eyes. Yanan, after she becomes a spirit, (she introduces herself as one in the beginning of the story) takes the form of various animals and their habits are well described and thought out.
This is a story about death, but also about life, and what hasn't really changed after billions of years.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Freeman on September 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An excellent book with strong research in all areas, from natural history to shamanism. Vividly described and "real"; told in a spare, effective voice. An especially good portrayal of an adolescent character. Far superior to any of the "Clan of the Cave Bear" books.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "darshank2" on February 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is so much more sophisticated than Clan of the Cave Bear, that it shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath! OK, OK, maybe I am a rabid fan, but I think I became one with good reason. If you are interested in other cultures and want to understand how someone very different from yourself might think, this is the book for you. Ms. Thomas' other books also put you into another world, another mind, whether she writes about humans, as in Animal Wife, or about animals, as in Tribe of Tiger and The Hidden Life of Dogs. Her command of English and her talent for eloquent understatement are wonderful to experience. If you are discerning and literate, you will adore her.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Abram on October 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Simply one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Easily the best invocation of what life may well have been like for our hunting and gathering ancestors, and a stupendous illustration of animistic modes of experience, and of the reciprocity between human beings and the living land. Brilliant insights into the sensorial worlds of other animals -- wolves, mammoths, and others -- as well as into mysteriously beautiful styles of thought and awareness still common among many indigenous, oral peoples. An anthropological and deeply ecological classic -- and yet its a novel! Its not for those who like their nature sentimental and sweet, but if you care about the wild otherness so rapidly dissappearing from our world, don't miss this astonishing book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Abram on August 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Simply one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Easily the best invocation of what life may well have been like for our hunting and gathering ancestors, and a stupendous illustration of animistic modes of experience, and of the reciprocity between human beings and the living land. Brilliant insights into the sensorial worlds of other animals -- wolves, mammoths, and others -- as well as into mysteriously beautiful styles of thought and awareness still common among many indigenous, oral peoples. An anthropological and deeply ecological classic -- and yet its a novel! Its not forthose who like their nature sentimental and sweet, but if you care about the wild otherness so rapidly dissappearing from our world, don't miss this astonishing book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Canoe Junkie on September 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is perhaps the best novel I have ever read in the prehistory genre, BAR NONE. The story telling is realistic to the point that this could easily have been a real-life account, with possible exception given to the supernatural elements. All of the characters are well developed and above all, easy to read emotionally. The story is essentially about people living their daily lives, but the author excels in imparting how stressful and brutal that life may have actually been in an ice-age culture and I found myself completely absorbed and unable put it down because of its intensity. I'm looking forward to reading its companion book "The Animal Wife".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hands down one of the best books I've read to date. I was assigned Reindeer Moon for an introductory Anthropology course a few years back, and what a treat it turned out to be! Wonderfully realistic and multidimensional characters as well as supurb attention to detail are what make this novel impossible to put down. I read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel prior to this and was dissapointed that her main character was portrayed almost like an angel; she could do no wrong. But Thomas's Yanan is so real; complete with character flaws, impure thoughts, and feelings of uncertainty. A rich cast of characters and amazing attention to detail is what made this book soar to the top of my "favorite novels" list. Highly recommended.
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