Literary Reviews

Literary Reviews

“Fans of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear and other stories of prehistoric peoples’ lives and adventures will relish Moctu and the Mammoth People: An Ice Age Story of Love, Life and Survival, the story of a Cro-Magnon boy who not only battles a tribal rival for leadership and love, but also encounters and is captured by a fearsome group of Neanderthals.

This is no casual story. Award-winning geologist and author Neil Bockoven took two years to review all the current genetic and archeological research about these primitive peoples (our earliest ancestors), and this attention to detail is reflected in a story line that captures not only Moctu’s experiences, but the nature of the physical and tribal world in which he operates. Solid science drives this story and – uniquely for a novel – it is annotated in an addendum to the book. Bockoven also has been featured in a number of scientific journals, and is a member of the Archaeological Institute of America, the Archaeological Conservancy, and an Impact Member of the Center for Study of the First Americans.

This background lends authority and authenticity to the story, elevating it above and beyond most tales of the times.

As for the tale itself, Moctu and the Mammoth People is a riveting study in contrasts as Moctu confronts the cannibalistic Pale Ones (Neanderthals), rivals and murderous plotters, enslavement by primitives who hold the key to one skill that could propel civilization forward, and the possibility of building a presence and family under new conditions.

When he comes full circle to confront his tribe’s corruption, Moctu faces further conflicts revolving around an interspecies confrontation and the turmoil surrounding his own heart and choices.

Moctu’s vivid discoveries of other peoples and purposes beyond his tribe’s approach to life lends a realistic and thought-provoking feel to a story replete with exquisite detail of the physical and emotional landscapes of the times: “He wedged himself in the crook of two large boulders, and with his sharpened stick in front of him, he stared up above, recognizing the Warrior Stars directly overhead. He was strangely comforted by the sight. Maybe it was a good omen. As a youth, he’d been told of them by Tabar, and their appearance tonight resurrected warm memories that seemed to heighten his sense of freedom.”

The result is an intriguing, exciting and moving saga that takes the time to build early history and psychological tension alike. More than a light read about Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal confrontations, Moctu and the Mammoth People does an outstanding job of considering the evolutionary process of learning and change by focusing on a primitive soul whose very existence and entire belief system are challenged by outsiders and new ideas.

Jean Auel’s fans, in particular, will find Bockoven’s approach delightfully well detailed, backed by scientific and archaeological facts.”

Diane Donovan
Editor of California Bookwatch


“Neil Bockoven shows us that technology has been crucial to the survival of every human society, beginning with revolutionary innovations like fire-starting and a mastery of the spear. His new novel is nearly revolutionary as well, cleverly melding anthropology with the techniques of historical fiction. Moctu and the Mammoth People is unique, fascinating and deeply-sourced.”

Mark McDonald
Former Award-Winning New York Times Foreign Correspondent and Author of the novel Off the X


“Most of us, if we think of Neanderthals and early humans at all, picture primitive, grunting savages. The reality, we are coming to realize, was vastly different. Neil Bockoven takes a scientific base and adds inspiration and imagination to create an epic tale of struggle and survival, of passion, betrayal and vengeance. It’s a tale that highlights our ancestors’ lives and loves, their fears and feelings – and, yes, their very humanity.”

Kieran Mulvaney
Author of The Great White Bear, At the Ends of the Earth, The Whaling Season and Witness