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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the world through Neanderthal eyes
This is a most magical read, especially if approached with as few preconceptions as possible. It is very rarely that an author creates the illusion of being inside the head of a totally different kind of being so successfully. The pictures that come into the mind through Golding's masterly description are so clear and compelling, and yet at times so puzzling, that it is...
Published on 27 May 2001 by Mr. Simon Dibbs

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't be surprised if you really don't like it
There are some books that you come across which you know are powerhouses in the literary world and which I would love to say I really enjoyed, but the fact is that they merely serve as proof that I am no literary critic. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall would be a modren example for me, and The Inheritors is another.

I not only found the language of the book...
Published 16 months ago by Neil Russell-Bates


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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the world through Neanderthal eyes, 27 May 2001
By 
Mr. Simon Dibbs (Stockport, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
This is a most magical read, especially if approached with as few preconceptions as possible. It is very rarely that an author creates the illusion of being inside the head of a totally different kind of being so successfully. The pictures that come into the mind through Golding's masterly description are so clear and compelling, and yet at times so puzzling, that it is hard to set the book aside for even a short time, so immersed does one become in the drama that unfolds. I was totally unprepared for the extent to which my emotions were involved in the respective fates of the protagonists, so much so that by the end of the story my heart ached for the pity of it all as the reality of the situation was finally revealed. All those questions and uncertainties which presented themselves in the course of the tale were finally resolved, but in such a way that I was immediately compelled to start reading the book again from the very beginning in the light of my new understanding. More excitingly, I have found that the ideas incorporated in the story have the power to set up whole new trains of thought about the history and culture of Homo sapiens and the roots of our mythologies. William Golding is probably known to most readers as the author of the school set text "Lord of the Flies", but please don't let that deter you from reading this tour de force. My fifteen-year-old was as least as captivated by this book as I was.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the easiest read but well worth the effort., 31 Oct 2009
By 
Peter Coupe (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
I have never been a huge fan of William Golding, to be honest, and I never managed to finish Lord of the Flies.
Being older and wiser I decided to try again, as so much has been written and broadcast about Golding, I thought it was worth another reading.
The inheritors is, from one point of view, a very simple story. It tells of a small Neanderthal family group, who make their way back to their normal Summer hunting and living area after the winter has passed. At first all seems as it should, but then people start to disappear, movements and fires are seen where there should be none, and finally - well I'll leave that for you to enjoy for yourself.
Basically, it tells of the destruction of the Neanderthal people by us, that is to say Homo Sapiens. The language is difficult, but for me that enhances rather than detracts from the experience, as I feel I am actually having to work through the story inside the head of a different thinking human being.
We'll never know, of course, how accurate this is, but it is a very captivating book, and one which has made me thing seriously about having another crack at Lord of the Flies.
One of the most telling sentences in the book is spoken by Lok, a Neanderthal, who looks at the way these new people ravage and consume the earth for their own ends, without a thought to the consequences, and says, simply "they are like a winter".
Brilliant stuff and highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't be surprised if you really don't like it, 15 April 2013
By 
Neil Russell-Bates (Bath) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
There are some books that you come across which you know are powerhouses in the literary world and which I would love to say I really enjoyed, but the fact is that they merely serve as proof that I am no literary critic. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall would be a modren example for me, and The Inheritors is another.

I not only found the language of the book difficult, I also didn't feel that it added anything and instead found particular phrases repetitive and annoying to the extent that seeing the line "I have a picture" coming along caused a sense of dread. I can recall other books written in slightly challenging styles for effect that really worked for me. Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban for example or The Gospel According To Jesus Christ by Jose Saramango, but Golding's book just irritated me for the most part.

i have read about what i was supposed to be able to get from this (insight into the dreadful things that human beings are etc), but this was just hidden too obscurely for me by the writing style. I couldn't get any pictures in my own head of the Neanderthals, the Homo Sapiens, the place, nothing, and for me that made it hard to get much from. I struggled my way to the end and put the book down with a real sense of relief that I had finished and, not for the first time, a nagging question as to why I had bothered to soldier on to the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating but flawed experiment, 2 April 2013
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
'The Inheritors' is Golding's attempt to reconstruct the prehistoric world as experienced by a family group of Neanderthals, who come into contact with modern humans during the story. It's a readable, poignant story on an unusual topic.

In many ways, it is an incredibly impressive work due to the clear effort the author has gone to in order to put the reader in the mind of our closest, but very different relatives. You won't read much else like this. Mostly, it's convincing enough as an artistic representation to be fascinating and entertaining.

Where it fell a bit flat for me was that the depiction just isn't entirely convincing. Golding has to switch between the internal voices of the Neanderthals and an all-seeing, eloquent narrator to really make it readable. He switches without flagging that he is doing so, in order to maintain the flow of the story, and it works most of the time but there are many moments where it is awkward or leaves glaring anachronisms or holes in the reasoning. Most glaringly, his Neanderthals have trouble thinking abstractedly when it is convenient for the plot, but demonstrate great intuition at other times.

One also suspects, knowing a little bit about Neanderthals, that Golding's info might have been very different in the fifties to what it is now. His Neanderthals seem too primitive (there's lots of evidence for Neanderthal tool making and even building dwellings). Also, Golding depicts them as hunter-gatherers who only eat meat they find from animal kills, whereas in reality they were extremely able hunters.

Some of that might seem like quibbling, of course. This is a book worth reading for its uniqueness and its poignant vision of how modern humans might have appeared to our closest cousins, but the experiment doesn't quite come off as a great novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Masterful writing but a bit slow, 17 Dec 2012
By 
A. S. Collinson (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
Writing from the mind and perceptions of the last of the Neandertals as the face Homo Sapiens is a challenge few could have mastered as well as this. But for me the narrative moves too slowly. There are nearly 40 pages of description of what two people see whilst they are sitting in a tree. Too slow for me. Felt for the characters, but in the end they didn't come alive for me. Learned a lot though.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, if at times bewildering, 17 Aug 2008
By 
S. Bailey "will work for books" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
When Spring comes back, the people return to their cave. Incredibly, things have changed. A log that bridged a marsh has disappeared. Food, that was once plentiful, has become scarce. And then one by one, the people themselves begin to disappear.

The people are Neanderthal, about to have their first contact with Homo Sapiens who will destroy them. The story is told through Lok, who by his own admission, "has few pictures in his head"; Golding imagines the Neanderthals as both verbally very limited and extremely conservative in their mental abilities. Though it is testament to his skill as a writer that this does not render them unsympathetic to a modern reader, it does mean that it can be hard work to figure out exactly what is going on, particularly when we observe the 'new people' through the eyes of the Neanderthals, and see just how incomprehensible drinking from a wineskin, hunting ceremonies or just arguing can become.

This is probably a book that one will either love or hate. As I read it just after the insipid novels of Jean Auel, I loved it. The thrill of discovering a totally new world (mine of the Neanderthals, as well as theirs of the new people) at the same time as knowing that these beautiful people were doomed, was quite incredibly moving.

Not for those requiring a fast plot and lots of sex, but for anyone who has ever paused to think whilst reading a book, deeply recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparse, powerful prose, 31 May 2008
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
I read this book long before reading Lord of the Flies, at about the time when most people are reading Lord of the Flies instead. I agree wholeheartedly with a previous reviewer, that this is better than Lord of the Flies, and that's saying something.

This is a really engaging read. The book tells of the beginnings of the human race through the eyes of a primitive, neanderthal ancestor called Lok. Because Lok has few words and relies on sense perception differently the prose can be quite hard to follow at first until you allow yourself to get under his skin.

The writing is all the more powerful for being pared down and simplified. You can sense the pains Golding took to find exactly the right way to express feelings and burgeoning ideas in the slowly awakening brain of his protagonist.

Golding seems to delight in peeling back the layers of civilised man and looking at the workings underneath and nowhere is this more evident or well done than in this particular book.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Golding novel, 16 Aug 2006
By 
Philip Murray (Consett, County Durham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
This is my third Golding novel as I make my way through his complete works. The Inheritors was Golding's first novel and apparently his personal favourite. In a narrative form similar to The Spire (which is not only my favourite Golding book but my favourite book ever), The Inheritors tells the story of the arrival of human beings as we know them today over the shoulder of the semi-evolved Lok, an excellently constructed and loveable character.

Golding's overly-metaphoric, ambiguous writing lends itself perfectly to telling the story from the, dare I say 'intellectually inferior' Lok's point of view resulting in charmingly blunt description. If you're a fan of Golding's style of writing (which is as strong here as any novel I've read by the man) I do recommend it. A startlingly appropriate story which is so relevant today and a thoroughly interesting read.

Not as good as The Spire, but in my opinion much better than the overrated Lord of the Flies. Fantastic!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give this 10 stars out of 5!!, 18 Dec 2005
By 
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Inheritors (Hardcover)
'The Inheritors' is not an easy book, but no book is more worth
the effort. Some of the themes of 'Lord of the Flies' are explored further, but this is altogether a more original and, in the end, more moving book. Lok, the principal Neanderthal, and his little family are innocent, kindly, unselfish, modest, artful in their way (though Lok is not clever ; he does not have many 'pictures'), and therefore, in our world, even all that time ago, doomed. The story of their slow annihilation is heart-breaking. The imaginative and intellectual tour de force worked by Golding to write this book is quite amazing. It's a virtuoso performance, but it is art concealing art - what you will remember are Lok's cries when he knows that those he loves are dead, and the poignant picture of his small figure, seen from a distance, just before the end. I cannot adequately say how wonderful this book is.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not great, 19 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
Like other people who read this, I found it a bit heavy going and slow. Worse, I didn't find the depiction of the Neanderthals convincing at all. This is probably an unfair criticism as the book was written in 1955, but science has moved on a lot and the Neanderthals were nothing like has they are depicted here, being far more human and far less 'animal' than William Golding portrays.

The apparent inclusion of telepathy was also confusing, and didn't really add anything to the plot.

Bizarrely for a book mostly written from a Neanderthal point of view, the only characters that came alive were the modern humans, a feeling that was underlined by the epilogue, where Tuomi finished off the book. It would have been a far more engaging book if his was the voice from the beginning.
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The Inheritors
The Inheritors by William Golding (Paperback - 4 Aug 2011)
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