Like White Mare’s Daughter, this is a… not-quite-historical novel, that explores how some of what we know of prehistoric societies might have worked. In this case, we’re around 3300 BCE, with the beginnings of the Bronze Age, and the invention of chariots.

Once again, this is a clash of two cultures; a sedentary, goddess-worshiping one, and a nomadic steppes-tribe which has developed chariots. We get a peek at the wider world this time, with a secondary character from Sumeria, which was nice (and he could have stolen the show if given more screen time).

The stories in this series are ‘mythic’ in feel, and again reminded me of the feel of Renault’s The King Must Die. Fairly down-to-earth characters are part of something larger than themselves, and also stand in for bigger forces in the world. The plot is a bit more intricate this time, with two young princes sharing a spotlight as they help the reader see their culture, and cross… destinies in the middle. The broad outlines are telegraphed, but it’s a great journey

While the goddess’ country is again a bit too utopian to be true here, but it’s not perfect, and I am reminded of some of the discussion in GURPS Religion about the hierarchy of a religion potentially being separate from who the god(dess) they worship imbues with power. There’s some good thought here, but it’s all seen from the outside, so it more ‘happens’, rather than is examined.

Its really best to just enjoy these as coming-of-age adventure stories, but there is more here, and I am disappointed Tarr didn’t include an afterword on the actual cultures she’s talking about, like she did with White Mare’s Daughter.