Just published: The Quest for Home

Stories of early humans have always fascinated me. I love history. I’ve also struggled with measuring time in thousands of years, rather than hundreds. How easy understanding the past must be for believers in ‘intelligent design’.

I’ve fantasized about what the lives of our early ancestors might have been like. The junior-school history books with their simple stone-age-man summaries and pictures only tantalized. So often early human’s were summed up by the words, primitive, or caveman.

Jacqui Murray’s Crossroads trilogy, set 850,000 years ago, challenges those concepts. The characters in, The Quest for Home, the second of her three novels, are tribal, but they’re far from primitive. They don’t merely hunt and gather, they must adapt to changes in their circumstances, as they’re displaced from their homeland.

There’s some intriguing background about the research that went into building an authentic world, in the foreword. However, if that kind of thing is not for you, don’t worry. This is primarily, a well-written story driven by a set of strong central characters. The historical notes are supplemental, rather than essential. I only read them afterwards.

It is Jacqui’s choices of a few key details that make the world she’s created feel authentic.

He stepped close enough she could smell his sweat, the pond plants stuck in his hair, and the sourness telling her he hadn’t eaten in a while.

From the beginning, we are reminded of the skills early tribes would have needed. Jacqui’s background notes tell us that:

Homo erectus, the star of Crossroads, is a highly intelligent prehistoric hunter-gatherer who outlasted every other species of man and was the first to spread throughout the Old World of Europe and Asia.

Xhosa, the female leader of ‘our’ tribe, is a new kind of woman. Not only has she trained to become a skilled fighter, she is also quick-witted and resourceful.

When her father died, both Xhosa and Nightshade stood ready to accept the responsibilities of Leader and engaged in a series of contests that tested their cunning, strength, planning, and battle skills. If Nightshade had won, he would now be Leader, she content to serve as his Lead Warrior…

Nightshade is a ferocious fighter. But:

In the fullness of the challenge, Nightshade’s brilliance as a warrior failed to defeat Xhosa’s cunning but if strength were the deciding factor, it would be Nightshade.

So, Nightshade, Xhosa’s childhood friend, becomes her Lead Warrior. As the story opens the group have been washed up on an unknown shore. Many are missing, but the rest gather together. They mourn their losses and prepare to go in search of a homebase, a safe place that only Seeker knows the route to.

It only takes a little extra stress on the group dynamics to raise opposition, overt and covert. The tribe must cross unknown territories, owned by foreign tribes. Luckily, Xhosa has loyal supporters in the group gathering round her. These are the ingredients that give this story a fine pace.

Key characters are a mentor, a girl with the ability to foresee big events, and a boy called Seeker.

What made Seeker especially valuable, and why Xhosa didn’t want to lose him, was that he assured her he could find their new homebase. How he would do that had something to do with the movement of the stars. That made no sense to Xhosa but it had guided Seeker, Zvi, and Spirit for more than two handfuls of Moons.

This, then, is a story of refugees. Xhosa’s people are pushed on not just by Seeker’s ability to read the stars, but also by the inhabitants of the lands they cross. The arguments about boundaries and economics have echoes in our own times.

Although The Quest for Home is book two of a trilogy, you don’t need to have read book one, Survival of the Fittest, to follow and enjoy this stage of the story. You might though, find that the temptation to back-track to part one is pretty strong. That’s where I’m going next, anyway.

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/ Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/ LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams Website:  https://jacquimurray.net

Have you tried reading pre-historical-fiction yet?

This is a genre that fascinates me. How did our very early ancestors live? What kind of value system did they use, and how did they communicate it? Author and blogger, Jacqui Murray explores these questions, and more, in the first book of her new Crossroads trilogy, Survival of The Fittest.

At the centre of the story is Xhosa, a young tribes-woman. ‘”Females weren’t warriors”, but Xhosa has hidden skills and a driving ambition, and in a world where only those who are strong survive, that’s just as well…

Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.

Question about the book for Jacqui: How did Xhosa count?

Xhosa and her People also had no need for counting. This is true even today with primitive people. Many count only to two (which is the method I’ve adopted for Xhosa). Beyond that, numbers may be described as handfuls or how much room they occupy in relation to something else. Counting people was unnecessary because all Xhosa had to do was sniff, find everyone’s scent, or notice whose she couldn’t find.

Book information:

Title: Survival of the Fittest

Series: Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Cover by: Damonza 

Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle CAKindle AU

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.