She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppes, by Sarah V. Barnes, is a wonderful addition to the fictional literature genre dealing with prehistoric human conditions. This novel imagines how groups of humans might have lived on the Eurasian steppes millennia ago. While following a clan of nomadic herders/hunter-gathers, mention is also made of permanent settlements of farmers and stone cutters with whom the nomads trade.
Naya, daughter of the clan chief, interacts with a small herd of horses. Does she have special powers to communicate with animals and possibly the spirit world? When out on the steppe by herself, an arrow shot by a foreigner hits Naya in the back. This event changes the course of many in the novel.
She Who Rides Horses is first rate. Barnes’ concise prose creates perceptive scenes of that long-ago world. From interpersonal family relations, to politics within the clan, to collaborations with strangers, all facets of this era are incredibly drawn by Barnes.
On a par wit, or even surpassing, Jean M. Auel’s Earth Children series, Barnes has fashioned a real winner with this book. I look forward to reading further books in this series.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.