A retro review completing Harry Harrison’s Eden trilogy.
This one is from March 30, 2012.
Review: Return to Eden, Harry Harrison, 1988.
In the third, melancholy book of Harrison’s alternate history trilogy where the intelligent descendants of dinosaurs, the Yilanè, uneasily coexist with humans, the theme is succession.
Series hero Kerrick wants his son to learn the Yilanè language so there will be more than one human who can communicate between the mutually hostile races. The war between the races threatens to resume again when the humans raid Yilanè cities for hèsotsan, lizards engineered to fire poisonous darts. Things escalate further when the series villain, the unusually ambitious and crafty Vaintè, leaves her torpid, mindless exile on the beaches of Africa, to resume her genocide against humanity.
Enge, the leader of the Daughters of Life, tries to ensure the religious order’s survival. They are the first such in Yilan history but despised and feared and termed the Daughters of Death for their refusal to drop dead as is the custom when ordered by the leader of a Yilanè city. Founded on something like Buddhist principles and the first to exhibit to others of their kind, they are threatened not only by some members’ too rigid adherence to monastic contemplation but an inability to procreate with the intelligent, but not Yilanè-enough race inhabiting the area around their city.
And the greater question is which race will end up with the Earth – the sophisticated bioengineers — but caste-bound — Yilanè or tool using humans who, unlike the Yilanè, universally use language.
Kerrick, the only person in this world with intimate knowledge of both races, is the classic caught-between-two-worlds figure. Even at the story’s end, his ambivalence is never entirely vanquished. Harrison ends his series on a complete enough resolution even though the final climactic scenes are a bit too reliant on coincidence in order for Harrison to end this fast paced volume, the shortest of the series.