Very enjoyable IMO. (Whereas "a bit dry" was the verdict of an acquaintance less interested in the academic side of archaeology, more in simply lookinVery enjoyable IMO. (Whereas "a bit dry" was the verdict of an acquaintance less interested in the academic side of archaeology, more in simply looking at sites). Sometimes Pryor pushes his own theories at the expense of surveying other takes on a topic, but his views are generally likeable. Still much more thorough and respectable than the average popular non-fiction book - especially when compared to bigger areas like science and history. Could perhaps do with an updated revised version now, 10+ years after first publication....more
Primal Skin is a work of fantasy fiction – and sexual fantasy, at that – mixing different time periods and traditions ranging from the Upper to the MiPrimal Skin is a work of fantasy fiction – and sexual fantasy, at that – mixing different time periods and traditions ranging from the Upper to the Middle Paleolithic. It is a bisexual utopia and a world in which gender does not limit ability. There is a great deal of artistic licence... Not quite what you'd expect in the introduction to a Black Lace book - though it's probably not surprising I'd be interested in a book with this premise by an author who appears to have good historical knowledge. Although I did have it for about ten years before reading; back then I'd really liked a story by the author, aka Astrid Fox, in some collection or magazine and got my hands on a few of her other works.
More is known about human/ Neanderthal interbreeding than when this was written, which in a way validates the idea of the hybrid community it's partly set in. (Apparently I have a higher than average amount of Neanderthal genes. The purveyors of laser hair removal were probably grateful for that, anyway...)
This is really a historical novel - mystery, quest and coming-of-age - with quite a lot of sex scenes, rather than "erotica". Often I wondered if the sex had been added or elaborated after earlier attempts to get the story published had failed. (The sex scenes are not bad, though not amazing and not often what I'd call erotic; YMMV.) Given the age of the main characters and the plot - apprentice shamans in their late teens or early twenties, and themes of religious and racial (speciesist?) prejudice - these days it would be "New Adult", but in the late 90s it probably would have seemed to be in some no man's land between teenage and adult books.
It's a fascinatingly strange world though the customs don't always fit together well and some of the thoughts seem too modern. (Skin's feelings about animals that are killed seem too near those of modern vegetarians. Wouldn't a culture in which creatures are sacred and have to be hunted for food see them in some way different from our current near-binaries?) It veers between engrossing and silly and made me think about the process of writing because I could imagine making similar errors in continuity, clumsy viewpoint shifts, not being sure how to conceptualise an ancient attitude to something etc. I was aware of some of the archaeology that contributed detail to the setting; would love to know where other bits came from. There were occasional schoolboy errors (no marsupials in Europe and bats aren't marsupials anyway). It seems odd for there to be no thoughts about pregnancy as part of prehistoric sex (assuming people had worked out the link), and that none of the characters already have children at the age they are, but you probably can't put that sort of detail in Black Lace stories. There was a sort of disconnection between the historically detailed parts of the story, and the sex scenes and some conversations (both the latter sounded more like a group of modern hippyish polyamorous students than people from another time). I couldn't help thinking that the author is probably better suited to short stories, and given her eye for factual detail, probably also non-fiction. Still, quite an interesting light read if you're sympathetic to its premise....more