The exile by Jo Sandhu
Tarin of the Mammoths bk 1. Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780143309376
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Prehistoric people. Ice Age. Mammoths. Travel. Resilience. Courage. Jo Sandhu's exciting fantasy series Tarin of the Mammoths is set in the Ice Age, the harsh and hostile environment of Northern Europe, 30,000 years ago.
The Mammoth clan are strong and experienced hunters whose survival over the Long Dark is reliant on the last successful hunt of the season. Tarin's father is the clan leader and Tarin's desire is to be a brave hunter, but he is weak and has a deformed leg. He is bullied and ridiculed by the other clan members. He disturbs the mammoth hunt and is sentenced to exile by the elders, tasked with taking an offering to the Earth Mother. His brother Niko sneaks away and together they begin a journey fraught with danger. A plunge into an icy river separates the boys, Niko is rescued but Tarin is swept away.
His rescuer Kaija brings him back to life, feeding him and keeping him warm in a small cave. She is desperately searching for her twin brother Luuka captured by the fierce Boar Clan. They have fled their River Clan home after a plague swept through and killed all the clan members. Together Tarin and Kaija join forces, exhibit great courage, draw on their individual strengths and creatively plan to rescue Luuka. Tarin realises he can conquer his own fears and rise above the challenges of his physical disability. The Earth Mother's offerings - natural medicines, food, flints, a blade, beads and a spear are essential survival tools.
From the epic battle with the Boar Clan, the ingenious escape with the two wolf cubs, their constant struggles with the elemental forces and the journey of personal growth, Sandhu's The exile is dramatic and powerfully written. The Ice Age setting draws the reader in, and the author paints a detailed natural and spiritual world, believable characters engaged in an epic journey. Sandhu's use of Scandinavian phrases and names adds richness to this narrative. The themes of courage, persistence, strength and reliance on friends are key elements that elevate this junior fiction novel.