Stunningly visual, extraordinarily detailed, powerfully dramatic, here is the first volume of a remarkable new series . . ."The First Americans. When humans first walked the world, when nature ruled the earth and sky, a proud tribe is threatened by a series of natural disasters. A bold young hunter named Torka, who lost his wife and child to a killer mammoth, leads the survivors over the glacial tundra on a desperate eastward odyssey to the save their clan. Through attacks of savage animals and encounters with strangers not unlike themselves, they must brave the hardships of a foreign landscape and learn to live in an exotic new world of mystery and danger. Toward the land where the sun rises they must travel."Beyond The Sea Of Ice, toward a new day for their clan—and an awesome future for the American.
Stunningly visual, extraordinarily detailed, powerfully dramatic, here is the first volume of a remarkable new series . . ."The First Americans." When humans first walked the world, when nature ruled the earth and sky, a proud tribe is threatened by a series of natural disasters. A bold young hunter named Torka, who lost his wife and child to a killer mammoth, leads the survivors over the glacial tundra on a desperate eastward odyssey to the save their clan. Through attacks of savage animals and encounters with strangers not unlike themselves, they must brave the hardships of a foreign landscape and learn to live in an exotic new world of mystery and danger. Toward the land where the sun rises they must travel."Beyond The Sea Of Ice," toward a new day for their clan—and an awesome future for the American.
Joan Hamilton Cline is the real name of William Sarabande, author of the internationally bestselling First Americans series. She was born in Hollywood, California, and started writing when she was seventeen. First published in 1979, Joan has been writing as William Sarabande for eleven years. She lives with her husband in Fawnskin, California.
1 Something walked within the night--something huge. Something silent. Something terrible. The hunter stopped dead in his tracks, listening, attuned to some inner thrum of warning that caused adrenalin to run hot within his veins as all his senses screamed: Danger! He was a young man, winter lean, graceful even though he stood tense within his multilayered garments of skins and furs. Braced upon strong, heavily clad limbs like a running beast, he was poised and ready to hurl himself from danger. He had felt it stalking him for hours, as relentlessly as death. Twice he had doubled back to check for tracks, but blowing ground snow had mocked his efforts, and he had seen nothing--only the vast, wind-driven distances of snow-covered, perpetually frozen tundra and the endless darkness of the Arctic winter night. As the wind wicked away whorls of dry snow and sent them rivering beneath the shimmering blue patterns of the northern lights, he had seen a ridge that rose out of the broad, flat, tundral face like the broken nose of a long-dead giant. He had made for that veiled, distant refuge at a trot, not looking back, knowing that Alinak and Nap would follow. During the last few days they had tacitly allowed him to lead them. He had not been surprised--for he was Torka, and the blood of many generations of spirit masters flowed within him. It was well known that his hunting instincts never failed him. Alinak and Nap would know that he had sought safety on the high ground of the ridge, which would allow them at least some advantage over whatever it was that was stalking them. Now he looked back, out across the vistas fogged by thick clouds of blowing ground snow. Through these he could see his companions, two figures emerging out of the freezing mists, ascending the spine of the ridge toward him. Hunching against the wind, leaning on their spears for balance, they wore the skins of beasts. Antlers branched outward from their hooded heads. Half-human, half-animal, Alinak and Nap had the look of horned apparitions ripped from the nightmare fabric of a dream. But this was no dream. This was the Age of Ice. At least forty thousand years would pass before hunters of another epoch would call this land Siberia. There would be forests here then, and new races of men and beasts. Now there was only a dark and savage landscape across which the wind wailed and the cries of dire wolves ululated like women keening their dead. Far to the east, above the towering, ice-girdled mountain ranges that encircled the treeless tundral plain, the first glow of dawn was leaching the sky to gold. It was the faintest banding of light, but it would stay long enough to be called morning, to set shadows of mauve and gray upon a land that had not seen sunlight for months. The time of the long dark was ending. The time of light was returning after the longest, cruelest winter that Torka had ever known. His two antlered companions came to stand beside him. Like Torka, they were shielded against the weather in many layers of clothing. Their undergarments were of the supplest skins of caribou fawns. Trousers of dog pelts protected their legs from the subzero bite of the Arctic wind. Within these were stockings of buckskin, chewed by their women to the consistency of velvet, and over the trousers were hairy leggings of bison hide, cross-laced over knee-high boots lined in fur and triple-soled to form a barrier against the cold. Each man wore a tunic of caribou hide and, over this, with the hair facing inward, a coat cut from the skins of the same reindeerlike animal. No skins were warmer than those of winter-killed caribou. Although the caribou was relatively short-haired when compared to the pelage of the shaggy musk ox or the woolly shouldered giant bison, each shaft of caribou hair was an air-filled, insulating cylinder, which kept the warmth of a man in and the death-dealing cold of the Arctic out. In garments sewn of such fur, a hunter could stay out upon the wind-ravaged tundra indefinitely without feeling the cold. But, although these men were warm, they had been away from their people''s winter encampment for three days. The warmth of their clothing could not protect them from fatigue or hunger. Or from bad judgment. They stood together with the light of dawn upon them, and Torka went dry-mouthed with apprehension as he eyed his companions'' horned cloaks. It was sacrilege to don the stalking cloak before the game was sighted. His own cloak was still strapped to his pack frame, rolled tightly, with the antlers upright like skeletal wings projecting outward from his back. A deep roaring suddenly rent the wind-scoured morning. Torka stood immobile, his face impassive, although once again his senses screamed: Danger! He turned, as did the two men beside him. They listened, squinting into the distance and trying to ascertain from which direction the sound had come. Within the faraway, glacier-ridden mountains, the dire wolves fell silent. Torka wondered if they, too, sensed that what they had heard had been more than the commonplace thundering of an avalanche from the towering frontal flanks of the many glaciers on the tundral plain. This had been the sound of something alive--something passing below and well beyond the ridge upon which the three hunters stood. It was made invisible by blowing ground snow and distance but was so large that its footfall set up vibrations in the permafrost and caused the earth to tremble. Its scent reached them, and they drew it in, seeking definition of it as only those refined to the kill could recognize the smell of life within the lung-searing cold of the Arctic wind. It was the merest inference of the warmth of living flesh and breath. The wind brought it to them, taunted them with it, then took it away before they could put name to it. The moments passed. Long. Breathless. The hunters waited, but the sound did not recur. Nap and Alinak salivated with want. Their bellies were tight and aching with hunger. Unlike Torka, they sensed no threat in the wind, no danger in the dawn. Fatigue had dulled their instincts. Their minds were filled with visions of what they so desperately wanted to see: caribou. They yearned to see vast herds of migrating cows and young, with the bulls following in separate traveling units, pouring out across the tundra from the distant mountains en route to their calving grounds far to the east. The herds were long overdue. The starving moon had risen and set over the winter encampment that their people had erected against the brutal storms of the time of the long dark. Theirs was a small band. Composed of fewer than forty souls, the group had worked together to dig pit huts into the frozen tundra, to raise domed roofs of bison skins over frames of mammoth ribs. With provisions cached against the long, dark months to come, they had settled in to await the return of the time of light. As always, they had encamped along a known route of caribou migration, certain that, before starvation set in, the herds would return to nourish them. But the caribou had not returned. The winter had been more severe than any winter that even the eldest members of the band could remember. There had been a brief thaw. Then the cold had returned, and storms had raged down upon them from out of the north like ravening wolves. Despite the weather, the hunters had gone out each day in search of game, only to return empty-handed. Soon their provisions had been exhausted. Women stared blank-eyed at empty snares as their breast milk dried and their babies wailed unceasingly. Ptarmigan fences of the leg bones of freshly killed steppe antelope, raised by the children earlier in the season, failed to confuse and entrap any more of the low-flying, winter-white birds. As a sacrifice to the spirits to bring the caribou back, Teenak, the headman''s youngest woman, had exposed her newborn infant. In sympathy, the sky spirits had taken the suffering baby''s body along with its soul. The baby would feed upon the clouds until Teenak could give birth to it again in better times. Two other women had followed Teenak''s example with their own offspring. But still the caribou had not returned. So it was that the hunters of the band had been sent out to find the herds. For three days now, they had been fanning out from the encampment, desperately searching for any sort of game, each hoping to be the first to sight the long-awaited herds upon which the band had come to depend for all those things that were the very blood of life to them: No meat was sweeter, no hides were warmer or more versatile, no antlers or bones were more malleable. No sinew was stronger or more resilient, no fat burned longer in the concave ovals of the burning stones that served as lamps. The caribou was the staff of life to the nomads of the Arctic tundra. Without the caribou, they could not survive. Alinak and Nap stared into the growing light of the snow-driven morning, each man trying to see what had brought Torka to such an abrupt stop. Surely, there was something moving out there in the mists. It had to be caribou! What Torka had suddenly made for the ridge at a run, optimism had caused both men to assume that the herds had at last been sighted. They had followed, donning their stalking cloak without breaking stride, certain that Torka was leading them to high ground so that they might gain an overview of their prey. Nap''s gloved hand curled tightly about the bone shaft of his spear. Above his high, round cheekbones, his black eye slitted with anticipatory pleasure. He could see himself now trotting home, bent forward under a load of fresh-killed meat his belly full for the first time in months, his blood singing.<