Winter in Eden by Harry Harrison (1986)

WestofEden002Cover blurb

Note: This is the second book of the West of Eden trilogy, starting with West of Eden. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the first book.

TWO BOLD CULTURES STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL…

WINTER IN EDEN

Harry Harrison, an acknowledged master of imaginative fiction, broke new ground in West of Eden. He brought to vivid life the world as it might have been, where dinosaurs survived, where their intelligent descendants challenged humans for mastery of Earth, where a young hunter named Kerrick grew among the dinosaurs and rose to become their most feared enemy.

Now, the awesome saga continues in Winter in Eden… A new ice age threatens Earth. Facing extinction, the dinosaurs must employ their mastery of biology to swiftly reconquer human territory. Desperately, Kerrick launches an arduous quest to rally a final defense for humankind. With his beloved wife and young son, he heads north to the land of whale hunters, east into the enemy’s stronghold, and south to a fateful reckoning with destiny.

Not since Dune has there been a work of such majestic scope and conception – a monumental epic of passion, courage and triumph.

My thoughts

Winter in Eden starts almost immediately after the events of the first book, with the humans celebrating their victory in driving the Yilane from their shores. Kerrick, however, is troubled with the knowledge that it will be a short-lived celebration. The Yilane will return in full force, and despite their initial success, the Stone Age humans still are no match for the technologically superior reptiles. So Kerrick takes off on a journey to the Yialne homeland, hoping to find some way of single-handedly turning back their invasion.

Meanwhile, the Yilane Vinate is plotting her revenge against Kerrick, and hopes to lead the invasion force that will reclaim the lost territories. And while all this is happening, a group of peace-loving Yilane flee to the Amazon basin, where they seek to found a society radically different from that of the rest of their xenophobic species. Once there, they make a surprising discovery.

Winter in Eden is an entertaining sequel that nonetheless suffers from some of the “been there, done that” syndrome that plagues most sequels. This time, however, the story lets the reader to explore a larger portion of the world Harrison created, allowing the exotic setting to remain fresh. The story itself isn’t as well-paced as the one in the first book, so even though Winter in Eden is 100 pages shorter, it feels like a longer read. And the author had to once again rely on a dues ex machina ending to resolve the desperate situation he put his humans in. Many of the problems with the science in the first book remain in the sequel, although Harrison does introduce some interesting twists in evolution this time around.

Nitpicking aside, Winter in Eden remains a worthy follow-up to West of Eden. Most of the plot threads started in the first book are resolved in the sequel, so even if you never read the third book in the trilogy, you won’t be left feeling the story is incomplete.

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