Lost Millenuim 01 First Dawn Mass Market Paperback – Dec 12 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although there are many things that bother me about this, the most obvious is that Europe was invaded by Nomadic Barbarians from the Steppe many many times. It makes me wonder if the author has ever heard of the Mongols, the Huns, or the Doric invasion. Even if you assume that the first invasion of peaceful farmers by ravaging nomadic horsemen occurred around 4,000 BC, stopping that one invasion wouldn't stop the future invasions.
The next problem is the author's premise that evil barbarity must come off the steppe, simply because our best guess at archeology and anthropology is that it happened that way in our past. In my opinion, even if you brought a nuclear arsenal back in time and created a radioactive dead zone from the Black Sea to the Baltic, so that Europe could never be invaded from the steppe, the peaceful farmers would eventually develop more complex societies that would come into conflict with each other and develop warfare on their own.
What made Old Europeans peaceful in 4,000 BC was the low population density relative to the abundance of natural resources. If you increase the population density so that one group of people is crowded against another, the feeling of cooperation with your neighbor is likely to shift to competitive resentment. This leads in a natural progression to an us vs. them mentality, and open fighting. I don't believe that Europe's long history of killing neighbors to take their land derives from the Nomadic invasions of horse people.
Although I think these starting premises preclude any possibility of a thoughtful and provoking story, the author didn't even make a good attempt. In the very first chapter, the woman, who is supposed to be in command but never really overcomes her own doubts and indecision, runs away in the face of the enemy, leaving her partner for dead. Now I was in the Navy not the Marines or Army, but I would think someone on patrol, particularly a West Point Cadet, would come and check the pulse before running away and leaving their squadmate. Maybe this is more realistic under the circumstances, but it certainly isn't heroic, something I look for in characters I read about. When the battle is over, and they're both alive, they don't feel any remorse for the string of mistakes which got the best 20% of their fighting force killed (the Great Dane). They make no effort at a Lessons Learned so they can do better next time. Instead they feel guilt and trauma about killing the bad guys in self-defense. It somehow makes them feel better to destroy the valuable hand made stone knives they took from the enemy dead, rather than keeping them for use by the peaceful farmers they are trying to save. It goes down hill from there.
Basically, this is a story about people I don't respect, on a pointless mission, in a poorly thought out and implausible world. I would give it zero or negative stars if I could.
...to discover that in order to save the world, Mike's heroes were going to change - literally - all of history.
Well, I like time-travel/let's change history types of stories, and this one wasn't too bad from a writing standpoint, but I take strong disagreement with the concept that all the ills of mankind can be laid on one little invasion into Europe six-thousand years ago. What? There were no conquerors in Asia, Africa, the Americas? I just don't buy it.
And Moscoe never actually explains how this proposed history change was decided upon. It wouldn't be my first (or twenty-seventh, for that matter) choice if I needed to "save the future" - if for no other reason than going that far back for a POD (real or fictional) makes your results essentially unpredictable.
And, oddly, in spite of the fact that the results are unpredictable, in spite of the fact that they're supposed to erase six-thousand years of history (while apparently just hoping that "it will all come out nice..."), for some reason, the two heros in the book are prohibited from making too many changes by the government.
You know, the government that's never going to exist because they're erasing all of history?
No introducing iron, no imparting of future knowledge, they even worry at one point in the book that they're introducing long-bows! This is changing history in the same style that Vietnam was fighting a war!
I can't see any way for such a proposal to make its way through government circles, nor, indeed, almost any private ones. It's the kind of "change history" scenario that could only be put forth and implemented by a very small group of absolutely fanatical (and incredibly dim) people - but that's not who the book has doing it. Somehow, this is supposed to be an Official U.S. Government Project. On this alone the whole premise of the book (and series) falls to the ground.
Still, I got through the book, annoyed but mildly entertained and started on the second book in Moscoe's series ("Second Fire)...then just had to stop when, less than twenty pages into it, our heros return to the present to see how their changes from the first book have worked and they promptly meet the AH versions of all the people they knew back on their original TL, in spite of the fact that this alternate history dates back that six-thousand years.
Let me repeat that: They have erased and replaced the entirety of human history, yet when they get back to the "present," versions of the exact same people they left back in the "original" future exist!!! Heck, they're even working on the exact same time-machine project!
Disbelief suspenders promptly went into overload and I just put the book down and haven't picked it up again since (about four years now).
"First Dawn" does apparently change real history - unfortunately, the second book shows it's changed that "real history" into fantasy. Only the writer of The Year The Cloud Fell has a worse grasp of how alternate history works.
This book - and series - is definitely not on my "recommend" list.
I enjoyed the book so much that I immediately bought the squels.
The story line is also different from anything else I've read, even those books which included time travel. It makes you want to live in the world they create, you wish someone would go back and stop the Kurgans and promote a culture of cooperation, non-competetiveness, and a basic caring about others & the world around us.
To show how much I've liked it - I've had First Dawn only a short time and have already read it twice!
I wish he had written more of this kind. He knows how to write battle scenes and military well.
This is not as detailed as Michael Gears or Auel's, but I found it satisfying, especially this first book in the series. I recommend all three.