Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Simon Townley's The Dry Lands: A Journey of Survival in Prehistory

Author’s Synopsis: Isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a band of prehistoric humans faces starvation. The tribes have grown too big. They've hunted too fiercely, and the animals are gone. The waterholes are dry, the rains don't come. Their world has changed, and they need a way out.
As the young men of the tribe go in search of a new home, Temfe, the chief's son, must learn to lead his clansmen, before they betray him. To survive in a harsh world, surrounded by enemies, he must gather new allies. Discover new weapons. Learn new ways of seeing the world.
In the African rift valley, 43,000 years BCE, a spark of consciousness flares into life. The dawn of human culture, the fire that will reshape the world. 

The Dry Lands, by Simon J. Townley, is a well-written tale of courage and survival set in prehistoric times. I would almost describe it as a fable. It is the story of a damaged chief’s son. His wounds are both external and internal, who as the sole surviving son of the chief, must rise to many challenges to assure his own survival and that of his tribes. Other characters, including his intended, his father and the antagonist have clear challenges and issuers to either overcome or to which they must surrender.
The main characters are well developed with clear goals and motivations. The plot has a solid arc and is well planned with no holes or sudden “reveals”. The editing is solid and I found no stray point-of-view shifts (a pet peeve of mine).
If I had any suggestions, it would be in certain areas where I felt the writing did not convey the tension that was underlying the scene. In a few places, the sentence structure and dialogue did not heighten the emotional level that the action would have implied. These however a not major flaw, but did take away a bit from the power of the story.
Overall this was however a very good book and I look forward to reading more of Mr. Townley’s work.
I give The Drylands: 4.5 triskeles.


Simon Townley is the author of the acclaimed slipstream / speculative novels 'Lost In Thought' and 'Ball Machine', and has written a range of cross-genre novels for both adults and young adults, including prehistoric fiction series 'A Tribal Song - Tales of the Koriba'. The first novel in the series, 'The Dry Lands,' was published in 2012, with the second, 'Caves of the Seers,' scheduled for release in early in 2014. His sci-fi thriller 'Outlivers,' again written for both adults and young adults alike, is to be released in Autumn of 2013. This will be followed by the post-global warming, high-seas adventure 'Among The Wreckage.'   

Simon has also written non-fiction, in particular on the subjects of copywriting and search engine optimization. He studied English literature at the University of York in the UK and has worked as a journalist and copywriter for the past twenty years. He currently lives in Devon, England, with a woman, three cats and two Airedale terriers.