I've put off writing a review of this for quite awhile. When I finished this totally engaging work, I wasn't sure I knew what to say about it. It may not be possible to describe this work without making it sound like one of many other-world sci-fi or alternate world fantasy novels. This could be categorized as sci-fi or fantasy, but that doesn't really say what this work is about.
Writing about a time/place somewhere between Tolkien's Middle Earth and 19th century Australia, Stanton uses the interaction between an academic bureaucrat and a `savage' (whose people are direct competitors with humans for space) to explore questions of what is `civilized'; was the shift to agriculture, settlement, and ever growing communities good for humankind; and, can we even consider abandoning the path we're on for an alternative that we rejected thousands of years ago. Stanton presents these issues without answers while weaving a completely engaging and sometimes shocking story that encourages the reader to empathize with a creature and a culture that one would normally reject outright.
Well, there's my attempt to describe the experience of reading this book. The short review is this - Just read it. It's a quick read, with no wasted pages, and whether or not you enjoy the story itself, as I did, it will leave you thinking about how we live on this planet in ways you probably have not considered before.