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3.8 out of 5 stars15
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2012
I am afraid that I made a mistake buying this book. I have most of this author's work to date so bought this one without any hesitation. I was expecting science fiction, but instead got a rather 'cardboard' attempt at recreating the deep past. Lots of research had obviously been done, but after a few hundred pages of info-dumped details about plants and animals, and a stereotyped set of characters (the nice guy, his macho father, the independent-minded woman he loves etc,) I had had enough. Apparently there is an 'alternative history' thread driving this (and two later novels) about confronting climate change and remaking our future as a result.There could well be some interesting science fiction written about the really giant leaps made in prehistory (intelligence, speech, tools, fire, farming etc) but this novel seems to want to go for trilogy length by attenuating out a very thin 'master plot' way beyond its natural length. A short story would have sufficed
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on 16 July 2010
I'm late to the party with Baxter. I came on board with Flood, wholly because I'm only interested in fantasy/sci-fi set in the world I know. This tells the story of Doggerland (renamed Northland here) before the sea rises of 6000BC submerged it and cut Britain off from mainland Europe. It's a "what if" - the question being what if Doggerland was never submerged, and this - the first book in a trilogy - tells the story of how that might have happened. It's full of solid characters, measured pathos, and often exciting action. And you learn stuff! 4 stars.
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on 29 September 2011
Baxter has long since established himself as having a great talent of speculation, and he demonstrates here that he's just as good at doing it in the stone age as he is in the distant future.

The central idea behind this story is the building of a wall to hold back the rising seas, which overhwhelmed low-lying land between England and Europe in the real world. What we have is a compelling story about how this affects the main characters, and the conflicts that result. The characters of this novel are one of its strengths, and demonstrate Baxter's continuing trend of writing more complex and believable characters in recent books. Few of the main characters here are completely likeable, and the audience is lead to empathise with different characters at different stages of the story.

There are two reasons why this doesn't get a 5. The first is the considerable number of implausibilities in the story. I seriously doubt that the hunter-gatherers described at the start of the novel would have got anywhere building the wall as it's described, and the likelihood of mother and baby surviving an amateur Cesarean section is also pretty low. Finally, the pseduo-human tree-dwelling "leafy boys" are also pretty ridiculous. They seem to be an attempt at describing stone age aliens. And like stone age aliens, they don't really work.

The other problem in my view is the wall, or rather the lack thereof. I was quite surprised at how little of it we actually saw. Once the idea of the wall is hatched, it serves as more of a backdrop and a motivator for the rest of the story. The novel might be better termed "a story about the conflict that took place while the wall was being built", rather than a story about the wall.

What story Baxter does tell, however, he tells well. I look forward to seeing where he takes the concept next time.
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If you love your alternate history books, then you've more than likely come across Stephen's work before. Here in this latest offering the tale is set in 8000BC when the North Sea didn't exist and the whole area is known as Northland. What Stephen asks in this title is "What if they built a stone wall that would prevent the land from flooding?

It is interesting, it's fascinating but above all else Stephen brings to the fore an offering that has a believability about it. Great stuff and one that will more than please readers of the old tales especially when it's backed up with credible research and great prose.
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on 10 August 2014
Brilliant, captivating and thoroughly interesting novel. One of those books I didn't want to put down. Although fiction, it is based on pretty sound historic fact for the most part. For those who like family saga's and history it's a must read. I bit gruesome and bloodthirsty at times with plenty male testosterone flying around but an utterly superb read.
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on 14 October 2014
Loved the story but wasn't entirely impressed by Stephen's writing style. Some parts could have benefitted from being fleshed out more, and other parts were too drawn out. Overall a fantastic storyline which I read in two sittings. :)
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on 2 March 2015
A very good book, well written. The premises are intriguing, and although the book started slowly and not entirely in the style I was expecting, it quickly developed into a great story, interleaving several characters and stories in a fascinating yarn. I have since read Book 2 of this series, and am currently going through Book 3.
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on 3 September 2011
I expected to hate this book. It's set in the Mesolithic, in an age when the North Sea was still mostly land, and tells an alternate history of how a tribe of primitives kept the sea back by building dykes. This is, of course, absurd. They lacked the productive surplus to support the workforce this would have needed. Baxter tries to address this by having them trade with other tribes for labour, but still fails to address the question of how to feed the work force. No matter where or when your story is, you can't ignore basic logistics and still have a world sufficiently realistic that a reader can immerse himself in the story.

And that's not the only utterly absurd piece of Baxter's world. The tribe of tree-top dwellers are also ridiculous.

But never mind that. Baxter salvages from his irreparably flawed world a decent story of inter-personal conflicts, intrigue and jealousy. Why only three stars? It's daft, and I don't think he can sustain it over the two sequels that are supposedly on the way.
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on 21 April 2011
I have read most of Stephen Baxter's works and have enjoyed all of them, this is no exception. An alternative history set 8000 years BC with some interesting characters and settings. This is very different to what he has written before, it's not science fiction, well not what I would call Sci Fi anyway and should not be judged by that fact. I give this only 3 stars because it is not his best book but if you've never read Baxter before you will enjoy it. Someone described it in an Amazon review as pulp fiction to read if you are bored. Sounds like a good reason to read it to me, books should be easy to read, not hard work and this is an easy read.
I for one am looking forward to the next part in the trilogy!
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on 28 June 2010
I read other books by Stephen Baxter and loved them. So when I heard about his new book I was hooked. It won't be available from or .ca until spring 2011. So, I spent a bit more and orderd it from It arrived quickly (less than a week) and I read the book even faster (2 days). I won't do an in-depth analysis of the book, I'll leave that to others. A couple of the main characters could have been better developped but that is my opinion. The most important thing is I found it a great read and would recommend it to others. This is the first book in a trilogy so I can hardly wait for books 2 and 3.
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