This tale starts with Kol as he tells his side of the story, meeting Mya, hunting and almost dying, meeting Lo, Pek and his affections, Shava and her obsessions, and the war. His family is struggling, with food getting scarcer each year and no girls, meaning no reproduction to keep their line alive. But then three visitors come from a neighboring people, and there she is, Mya. We’re pulled in right from the beginning, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the tale since it almost seems as if Kol is speaking to you, the reader. It’s easier to visualize what he recounts, and it makes it seem like a quick read. It’s a compelling, rich prehistoric world that you can’t help but love.
My favourite part of the entire novel is how effortless and real the world seems. You fall into it so easily that you don’t even have time to think about how different it is from real life, you just get sucked in and know of nothing else as you read. It’s as if that world, and those lives, are all you know. It’s brilliant. The world is richly written. It was a bit odd to have such a historic world with modern language though. Getting sucked into the world, it makes everything seem peaceful and old and then it’s jarring to read modern words as they speak to each other. This story wouldn’t work any other way though, and I enjoyed it.
Reading about the people, their families and groups and traditions, was engrossing. I loved learning about their songs, the way they hunt and dress, and how they act. Their hierarchy was interesting as well. Kol hunted mammoths (though he preferred not to), saber tooth cats (though only because they attacked him first), and honey bees so he could gather honey for his tribe. They skinned the animals for pelts, which they made into blankets and clothing and rugs and other materials, then they chopped up the meat for meals, which they ate at the fire as a family, everyone laughing and dancing and singing. They are such peaceful and happy people, without internet and vehicles and buildings and pollution. They have fresh air, nature, and their form of transportation is their feet, or a canoe on the lake. They are strong and admirable, especially as you get to know the characters more.
The war we get a hint of in the synopsis is a dark, dangerous war that did not end without loss or death. It was too easy to get lost in all the action and danger, feeling the urge to join in even though it isn’t real. I was rooting for one side, waiting to see what they would do and what the others would do, and with all the injuries and blood, I was definitely terrified for some characters. Their strength kept them alive, along with their survival skills and knowledge, which was heartening to read, but also heart breaking at times because of how close death came knocking at times.
Ivory and Bone is a compelling, rich tale that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s heartening bonds and strength will make you smile and feel warm. It’s a brilliant, lovely tale about love and losses and the basic human desires.