5 stars out of 5
“Most refreshing story of this era. Shows the struggle to survive and how hard life changes the dynamics of a group. This has been far more entertaining than the Clan of the cave bear. This is one book I have already recommended to friends.”
— Allen Lawrence, GoodReads Reviewer, December 28, 2016
“Refreshingly thought-provoking . . . Burgauer’s ability to portray the thoughts and feelings of Neanderthal man is excellent . . . Delicately and intricately wrought . . . an engrossing read . . . ”
— D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, February 2017
Fans of Jean Aul and other writers who provide stories about early humans on Earth will find The Night of the Eleventh Sun to be refreshingly thought-provoking as it focuses on a Neanderthal man’s world and his interactions with the incoming Homo sapiens species.
Strong Arms is well adapted to his environment and is a hunter who has achieved much; but when he spies another clan coming toward him one morning — one whose members aren’t quite as he is — it is the beginning of a series of strange, wonderful, and frightening encounters with those who seem to be related to him in some way, but who are different.
These new humans don’t just move differently; they have a different way of interacting with the world around them — and Strong Arms discovers that all his survival skills cannot prepare him for the invading forces that soon take over his clan, his life, and his world.
Steven Burgauer’s ability to portray the thoughts and feelings of Neanderthal man is excellent. Strong Arms faces the problems he created when he exiled a young man and other clan members from his group, experiences feelings and drives that portend well for survival even if he doesn’t quite understand the reasons behind them, and moves through a world created and determined by the Nature God to explore how magic operates in conjunction with natural law. As he does so, readers gain insights into the possible explorations and thoughts of Neanderthal man and his changing place in the world.
From the desperate — even forbidden — attempts of a maturing girl to find a mate to the forces of natural selection and clan economics, Burgauer explores all facets of clan makeup, interactions, and psychology within a fictional story that creates involving characters fully immersed in their environment and its many changes and challenges.
As Strong Arms faces the elimination of everything he’s built and known about his world, he tries to reason out life's purpose even as he becomes one of the last remaining eight hundred Neanderthals on the planet. In this changing world, even uncommon intelligence still has few options for survival.
Delicately and intricately wrought with a heavy focus on the thoughts and perceptions of one who walks through a world both familiar and increasingly alien, The Night of the Eleventh Sun is an engrossing read especially recommended for readers who would consider the transitional changes and choices experienced by one species being replaced by another during the process of evolution.
Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, February 2017
"Burgauer's THE BRAZEN RULE is tightly plotted, has excellent characters, and shows basic human nature as it is, a thirst for power."
—Philip Jose Farmer . . . three-time Hugo award winner
“A marvelous blend of fact and fiction. Much more could be said of this excellent piece of historical fiction, but suffice to say, it roundly deserves five stars for its unique ability to entertain as well as inform. You will never look upon the cavemen in museum dioramas in quite the same way again. Indeed, Burgauer’s vivid portrayal of day-to-day life back then — complete with bouts of anxiety, somnambulism, and even eroticism — make this novel breathe with an uncannily contemporary touch of reality.”
— Publishers Daily Reviews, December 15, 2016
Transport yourself back 40,000 years, and watch a life-and-death drama unfold.
Strong Arms, and his mate Brown Curls, are waiting patiently for a huge antler-animal to grow weak so they can finally kill it. It’s been two days since the big beast fell into a glacial depression, fashioned into a trap by the pair. Its legs have been crushed by boulders rolled down on it earlier by Brown Curls.
Brutal hunting technique? Very much so. But it’s just another day for these Stone Age Neanderthals, who are trying to survive and bring back food to their ravenous clan.
Through the talented touch of author Steven Burgauer, the reader is transported across the eons to walk the Neolithic landscape in search of daily sustenance for Strong Arms’ clan.
Indeed, Burgauer’s vivid portrayal of day-to-day life back then — complete with bouts of anxiety, somnambulism, and even eroticism — make this novel breathe with an uncannily contemporary touch of reality.
“Neanderthals were not the stumbling, stupid brutes moderns once pictured them as being,” Burgauer asserts. “Give a Neanderthal man a shave and a bath and dress him up in a coat and tie and you wouldn’t notice him on a crowded platform waiting for a train.”
This story is skillfully woven among fascinating — and plentiful — anthropological nuggets and ancient history. But don’t think it’s just a dry recitation of facts and figures drawn from a dusty textbook.
Strong Arms and his clan practically leap off the page and into your imagination as they battle wolves during important tribal events, such as the chieftain’s eleven-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony — the Night of the Eleventh Sun.
In a different kind of struggle, Wide Smiles, the fourteen-year-old daughter, must battle her emerging sexuality to keep from going “knees-up” with her cousin, Long Legs. Hormones rage — little different than in present day — and the instinctual, though taboo, urge to mate with a kinsman is hard to overcome.
As the mild European summer passes, however, the family unit is distracted from its dilemma of breeding stock scarcity. There are ritualistic rites to perform, honoring the all-powerful Nature God, and even an occasional musical celebration, performed with hollow bird-bone flutes and turtle-shell drums.
Still other little-known historical notes emerge. For example, it was not unusual for cannibalism to occur every now and then, savoring such delicacies as the sacred brains and livers of deceased clan officials. And children, especially those belonging to important clan members were almost never buried. Instead, their tiny bodies were placed with great reverence in cave wall niches and carefully sealed.
“It was believed that the Spirit of the one who had died would fly to the Nature God on the wings of a hawk or an eagle, only to return later in the guise of a son or a grandson.”
Much more could be said of this excellent piece of historical fiction, but suffice to say, it roundly deserves five stars for its unique ability to entertain as well as inform. You will never look upon the cavemen in museum dioramas in quite the same way again.
Well done, Mr. Burgauer. Another masterwork of writing, at once inventive and illuminating.
4 stars out of 5
“ . . . the author has quite cleverly interweaved his narrative with a science lens to help us make sense of the Neanderthal’s actions . . . so the tag of science fiction/fantasy stands in this enjoyable tale.”
— December 9, 2016, “The Book Reviewers” Full Media Ltd.
The Night of the Eleventh Sun by Steven Burgauer
Existence as a Neanderthal is explored through the life of a clan leader: hunting, family problems, a declining clan, mysterious strangers and keeping the spirits happy are just some of the issues facing Strong Arms in this enjoyable tale.
A typical science fiction book will project you so many years into the future and wow you with all that has been achieved or dismay you with the awfulness that is our possible destiny. Not so for Steven Burgauer’s latest book, The Night of the Eleventh Sun, which takes us back to the dawn of our time.
But it is not us that are his focus; we are a mere bit part in this tale. Rather it is our rival hominid species, the Neanderthal, that takes centre stage. Hold on a minute, I hear you utter, does that not make it historical fiction rather than sci-fi? Well, possibly, but the author has quite cleverly interweaved his narrative with a science lens to help us make sense of the Neanderthal’s actions. Clearly much of the science resides in the theoretical realm; ideas are pieced together from fragmented clues collected by decades of patient anthropological endeavours, so the tag of science fiction/fantasy stands.
Initially there is a simplicity to the narrative that leads you to think that this might be pitched at a younger audience, but don’t be fooled. Once the voracious sex lives of the Neanderthals are covered you know that this is definitely not for children! It is clear from what we learn about the everyday lives of the clan that their lives were similar to our own clan ancestors: use of tools for hunting and preparation, plants for healing, creativity, abstract thinking and philosophising. However, there is a question mark forever lurking whilst you read: why did they not endure? The clan in the story is one in decline, weakened by infighting, high infant mortality and threats from other, more successful and “different” clans. Any, or all of these reasons may explain the Neanderthal’s demise, but it is too easy to dismiss them as a species that wasn’t “fit” enough to survive; partly as they continue to exist genetically within many of us but also, as the book demonstrates well, we have much still to learn about their cultural legacy.