Jacqui Murray’s recently published book, Against All Odds, third in her prehistory series, was met enthusiastically by the many fans of her writing. It isn’t surprising as “The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before”, as the publisher of the book summarised.
Above the image of what Xhosa might have looked like
This book is impressively researched, in minute detail, including the whistling/singing languages of the world, which made it possible for the author to provide an understanding of the way the protagonists communicate. Even today there are still places in the world, like the remote villages on the Greek mountain at Antia on the island of Evia. The villagers living on the slopes of Mount Ochi communicate by a variety of whistles. The whistles each have distinctive meaning, and the villagers learn this language from early childhood.
Above is the image of the prehistoric forest which was the place of safety Xhosa and her tribe sought during her long journey.
The use of facial expressions, hand gestures and body language is employed here to allow readers to participate in the adventures of Xhosa and her tribe. The author’s quite ingenious idea was to choose as the leader of a tribe, a woman, Xhosa. Scientists now can prove that because of their chromosomes, women are genetically superior to men. They live longer, have stronger immune systems, are better at fighting life-threatening diseases, like cancer, have more stamina than men, and have a higher pain threshold. All the attributes displayed by Xhosa.
To those interested, one should explain the importance of the disparity in size and usefulness between the two sets of chromosomes we humans have. Each human has two sets of chromosomes, one inherited from the mother and one from the father. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y. The X chromosome contains around 1,000 genes, while the Y chromosome has only about 70, most of which are involved in making sperm. We can discount the Y completely and concentrate on the far more powerful and useful X chromosome. I don’t intend to lapse into a lengthy diatribe on the subject of women’s genetic superiority, but I will just add an important detail, that those two X chromosomes, working together as a back-up system, are the reason for women’s genetic strength, as men do not have one.
. Above is an image of the prehistoric caves
Another interesting idea in the book is off-setting the obvious, for the time, extreme violence with a show of altruism. I think the human race survived and evolved over thousands of years into today’s humans because of the ability to care for others. After all we could not be worse than other Earth dwellers, animals, as they show kindness and compassion to others. There is an engaging tale of Xhosa and her warriors bringing food to the unknown to them group of people, who looked different to her tribe, and even showing them how useful are properly polished stones. The rough stones used by the cave dwellers were not very effective as in use they were prone to cutting their hands.
. Above is an image of prehistoric cave dwellers.
The book refers often to various injuries suffered by the warriors, and the way the pain was dealt with. While they were tough and brutish, they could have had a low pain threshold, or so scientists believe. DNA analysis shows they had a genetic variation linked to the pathway in the body which sends pain signals. Scientist say that these prehistoric people had up to 16% percent higher odds of suffering from persistent pain. It seems that the title Against All Odds is very apt in more senses than one.
. Above is an image of a giant bear capable of dealing with predators
Seeing the way the bear was defending her cub and herself from a panther, Xhosa makes a mental note never to hunt the bear. It was less risky to hide in the tall grasses and wait for a passing gazelle to bring her down. Here, I have to point out Xhosa’s exceptional observation skill, essential in her fight for survival. This skill would even allow her to spot that an ordinary-looking dark berry among the bushes, was, in fact, the eye of a hidden predator. Over the millenia this skill continued among native tribes all over the world, like Aborigines, Maori and Native Americans.
. Above and below are images of prehistoric gazelles.
Above an image of the prehistoric bison, who when successfully hunted down would provide Xhosa’s tribe with very welcome meat.
Xhosa developed an extensive knowledge of plants and roots that would help her to treat wounds and, although, she didn’t name them, I think she was using wild garlic. Crushed, and then placed on a leaf, the garlic was then applied to the wound. It would act as a natural antibiotic and kill bacteria that infect wounds and burns. Garlic cures because it penetrates the slimy film that bacteria creates. Today, the garlic remedy is called an ‘ancientbiotic’.
The book correctly highlights the early cooperation between humans and wolves. Both species had the same hunting method, and joining forces was mutually beneficial. My earlier posts covering Jacqui Murray first two volumes of her trilogy, and concentrating on Xhosa’s and her tribe’s relationship with wolves, proved to be extremely popular. Perhaps, because the friendship between wild animals and us, humans, is viewed as special. Wolves, in particular, feature in poetry and songs of many ancient tribes or nations.
. Above an ancient cave image of human and wolf
. The wolves howling at the moon are, in my view, expressing longing for the motherland of all of us, the Universe.
I recommend Jacqui Murray’s Against All Odds, because you will end the book with your mind expanded, and the world feeling slightly more manageable which is a great feeling to have, especially now.