Misfits and Heroes: West from Africa - revised version

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9781453755037: Misfits and Heroes: West from Africa - revised version

A thief offers a woman a chance at a new life by cutting her bonds, beginning a journey that will take both of them downriver and out to the coast of West Africa. The time is 12,000 BC, and war is breaking out between the villages on the coast. Frantic to escape, the two travelers join others fleeing the chaos of battle. They think they'll be safe if they head down the coast by boat, but the sea sweeps them out into a new, very different world and a destiny they couldn't have imagined.

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About the Author:

After receiving her Masters degree in English, Rollins taught composition and literature, including World Literature and Latin American Literature, and became fascinated by the extraordinary wealth of ancient Mesoamerican culture, which is often overlooked in history books. This research, as well as travel to ancient sites in Africa, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, provided the inspiration for this book. It deals with early explorers in the Western Hemisphere - amazing people who dared to leave everything they knew behind and create a new life in a new world.

Review:

Five Stars (out of Five) Over 14,000 years ago, when the Sahara was still green and western Africa a heavily vegetated jungle, two major river systems drew two leaders toward the same goal: the creation of civilization. Misfits & Heroes: West from Africa approaches a historical confluence of human exploration and geographic configuration from the viewpoint of two ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Exiled from his home village for being unable to obey village laws and learn and employ his people's counting system--in short, for being different--Naaba has been traveling for a long time. He is drawn to one particular village by smells: "the complicated, heavy smell of men and women and children, and life as he had forgotten it." He keeps his presence in the village a ghostly one until he encounters a woman bound in a clearing. He releases her, finding no reason for her continued detention, and they begin to form a bond of trust that becomes more intimate as they travel together in search of somewhere to belong. Asha, as Naaba learns, is a water diviner; she claims to feel its pull wherever she goes, and is compelled to reach any water source that so draws her. This gift leads her and Naaba to a human enclave which appears, at first glance, to be a welcoming place. The community is headed by a man who says he has learned how the large stones in the area move and the meaning of the movements. But Naaba hasn't survived to adulthood without learning caution, and his suspicions are confirmed. He and Asha are both forced to work in the community, while those already there attempt to talk them into staying after their required days of servitude are finished. Freedom comes unexpectedly in the form of a raid by another group; Naaba escapes the warriors, but Asha is captured and, though well treated, expected to stay where she's put. Considering this is the problem she's always had, it is no surprise that she escapes her comfortable jail and heads for the nearest water source. The travels and events in the lives of Asha and Naaba are framed by the rise of "The Leader," a man whose goal is to found a system of villages along one river with the intent of developing trade. His methods are rough because he believes people have to be forced into doing what's best for them. One of his raiding parties descended upon the moving-stone village, inadvertently freeing Naaba and Asha and others who decide to leave after their village is destroyed. The Leader's instructions to the raiders were to demolish any buildings and force the people to scatter. Some of these villages join The Leader's group, but others remain behind, including Naaba and Asha. As they continue their travels, Naaba and Asha endure more forced separations and welcome reunions, but it isn't until they decide to make a journey with the moving-stone villagers to an island chain that their lives become more tightly entwined. Rollins has created an entirely believable prehistoric world with genuine characters and exciting adventures. The text is both lyrical and stark, where required, and Rollins' style is effortless and highly engaging. Fans of writers such as Jean Auel should find much to like in this novel. Janine Stinson --ForeWord Clarion Reviews

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