concludes Stephen Baxter's "Mammoth" trilogy about the lives, adventures and rich mythic tradition of mammoths. Silverhair
featured a mammoth family surviving in modern times; Longtusk
backtracked to the Ice Age; now it's AD 3000 and mammoths roam Mars, the Sky Steppe of their ancient legends...
Icebones, daughter of the first book's Silverhair, wakes from suspended animation high up Mons Olympus, the solar system's greatest volcano. Humans ("the Lost") partly terraformed Mars and seeded it with mammoths, but for their own inscrutable reasons have gone home. Already Icebones's untutored cousins, accustomed to being fed like pets, are beginning to starve.
Our heroine's demanding duty is clear. She must make herself Matriarch of the mammoth group, show them how to forage on this alien steppe, pass on the old teaching legends and Just-So stories of mammothdom, and lead her quarrelsome family on an epic trek across the once again dying world, hoping for sanctuary in the lowest of the lowlands.
The shattered geography of Mars is only part of the challenge. Other species are battling extinction: huge predatory cats and birds, a genetically engineered breed of mammoth, and homages to HG Wells and Frank Herbert in the form of deadly red weed and sandworms. Worst of all, abandoned terraforming tools are still erratically active, triggering upheavals of earth, air, fire and water. And at journey's end, an entirely different kind of problem awaits.
With Icebones, Stephen Baxter brings the mingled history and mythology of mammothkind to a satisfying, touching conclusion. --David Langford
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