Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Zan-Gah: Review and Giveaway

The Flintstones and the Rubbles were among my favorite cartoon characters as a child. I grew up watching The Flintstones, but other than watching that lovable cartoon set in the Stone Age, my interest in prehistoric times was quite limited. I'd never read any prehistoric fiction, and truthfully, the idea of prehistoric young adult literature didn't hold any great appeal for me. Initially, I was reluctant to read the Zan-Gah books, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, published in 2007, and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, published in 2009. I decided to give this genre and these books a chance, though, because the first book in this series won The Eric Hoffer Award, and the series won a Mom's Choice Gold Award.

"Luxury was unknown, and strangers could be envious of a scrap of fur or a bit of food. Tools and weapons, crude as they were, were valued and guarded. A stone blade, which took a week's labor to make, might induce an uncouth ruffian to take a life in order to possess it. It is hard to imagine how much simple things were prized and coveted in that frightful time. Darkness was indeed darker to them then, coldness colder, and the cruelest passions somehow crueler and more deeply passionate."
~Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, Allan Richard Shickman

Instantly, magically, I was drawn into this darker, colder, crueler world. Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, is the coming-of-age story of Zan, a young man who becomes a leader by using his intellect and intuition as well as his physical strength. Zan, distraught over the long absence of his twin, Dael, blames himself at least in part for his brother's disappearance, and ventures out into hostile territory to find him, risking his own life.

Author Allan Richard Shickman creates a primeval world that's savage, vivid, believable, and deeply moving. I'd never encountered prehistoric characters in fiction before, and quickly, I genuinely cared about them, especially Zan, the protagonist, as well as Dael, Lissa-Na, Pax, Rydl, Sparrow, Chul, and many others, who truly come to life. I could visualize the various clans, the Ba-Coro, the Noi, and the wasp people (who emulated the ways of this stinging insect and used poison-tipped spears). The author is a master storyteller, and the adventures are exciting and unlike any I've ever read before. Early in Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, there's a hunt for a lion who has killed a child, and the tribesmen form a huge circle, nearly 15 miles around, in order to surround and capture their prey. Descriptions of how people would huddle together in caves for warmth during sleep (still holding their weapons), or chew animal skins in order to soften them for use, illustrate how difficult and comfortless life was back then, and how life was often a mere struggle for survival. In spite of all the hazards and hardship, though, which were a part of daily life, there's still love and friendship between people, which helps to mitigate the brutality of this world.

After I read the first book, I couldn't wait to read the sequel, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country (in which Zan takes a different journey), which is as gripping as the first. These books cover many topics and themes--survival, coming of age, war, violence, friendship, love, roles of men and women, the need for order, and more. Although these books are for young adults, older readers will also enjoy them. I highly recommend Zan-Gah.

Exciting news! The publisher is generously offering a set of these two books to one winner as a giveaway. This Zan-Gah giveaway is open worldwide!
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, March 22. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, March 23. Good luck!

Special thanks to Bonnie from Earthshaker Books for sending me these books.


  1. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you Susan.

  2. I'd love to be entered in this.


    I'm already a follower.

  3. I'd like to read this!
    KawaiiNeko2008 at aol dot com

  4. This sounds great!! Already a follower :) your blog is amazing! I love it!

  5. I am glad to hear these are really good. I have them in my collection and I was worried that they might not be my type of thing, but you have changed my mind. Great review.

  6. Oh, I would love to read these.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    My contact: carlos_durao AT hotmail DOT com

  7. I'd love to read these books, as would my daughter.

    I'm a follower.

    polo-puppy-fluffy at hotmail dot com

  8. Dar, thank you very much!

    Vivienne, I really enjoyed these books a great deal and think you will, too. I found them exceptional.

    Thanks for all the comments. More are welcomed.

  9. I wrote the Zan-Gah books for young adults and teens, but I am delighted to find that adults like reading them too. That's because I maintain a high level of intensity, and I refuse to "dumb down" as though my readers were stupid. I have a theory that kids can read anything they really want to read, so I tried to write books that would grip their little souls. What makes these novels "young adult"? First, they are about young adults growing up, and second, they contain no bad language or graphic sexual situations. If Thomas Hardy, who wrote little else than love stories, can leave out graphic sex, so can I. Anyway, the product has been books that adults can read to, or with, their kids. Mom's Choice gave me a Gold Medal for Young Adult Series because, for all their fiery intensity, these stories are family-friendly. Am I proud? You betcha.

    Allan Richard Shickman

  10. I'm glad you enjoyed these Suko, I have them as well.
    I look forward to reading them too.
    Great review!

  11. Allan, thank you for taking the time to comment! My 12-year-old daughter is looking forward to reading your books soon. :)

    Naida, thanks. I look forward to your thoughts on these riveting books.

    Additional comments welcomed.

  12. I have known Allan for years, and always think of him with a volume of Shakespeare in his grip! It is his wide range and depth of knowledge that he brings to his characters, and we are all richer for the experience. Thanks Allan...keep writing!

  13. Just like you were, Suko, I am reluctant to read about prehistoric subject matter and probably wouldn't have it on my book list if you hadn't written such an intriguing review. I wonder, do you think it might be turned into a movie, since it did get acclaim and win a couple of awards? It might just be different enough to attract another type of audience. Thanks for introducing me to a new writer with new worlds of possibilities to explore.

  14. Did I hear "MOVIE"? It is every fiction author's dream (with the notable exception of J. D. Salinger) to have his novel made into a film. If you know how to bring this about, please let me know. Sounds like a good idea, and to tell you the truth, a good many readers have suggested it.

    A. R. Shickman

  15. Anon, thanks for your comment.

    Karen and Allan, I had the same thought about Zan-Gah, and if it were made into a movie, I'd be the first in line to see it. I think it could be a blockbuster!

  16. Great giveaway!

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

  17. These sound like very interesting books-please enter me in the very generous give-away for them-

  18. Please count me in.
    These seem really interesting.


  19. I love the Flintstones!

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  20. I'm a follower.

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  21. I'd love the enter! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  22. I tweeted:


    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  23. These books sound like they would be right up my alley! I haven't read any fiction that focuses on the prehistoric era, but my daughter is currently reading The Clan of the Cave Bear series and has recommended them to me. I loved your review! Isn't it awesome when a book defies your expectations and turns out to be wonderful?? Very insightful review, you have made me want to read these, so I will definitely be entering your giveaway, and thanks for hosting it!!


  24. I am also a follower of your blog!!

  25. Oh, this is really interesting.
    Please sign me up for the giveaway!

    joanapatriciadias AT gmail DOT com

  26. Pre-historic adventures?
    I just love that!
    Count me in, please.

    educhico AT gmail DOT com

  27. These seem wonderful!

  28. Still room for me?
    I find these Era very hard to work on properly, but a very interesting one as well!

    jafantunes AT sapo DOT pt

  29. Do count me in, please.

    catarina.magoito [@gmail.com]

  30. That's got to be a curious read!
    39.5susy {at} gmail.com

  31. This sounds amazing.

    goncalo DOT mil AT gmail DOT com

  32. Hey there!

    I am really interested in pre-historic fiction, in whatever form it comes.
    So that's why I'm entering.


  33. Sounds unique to say the least. I put both on my TBR. Will probably be interesting.


  34. google friend connect follower---Kitty

  35. I am glad you liked it! I really liked it too.
    I am on the 2nd book now.. and hope to finish it soon!! Great review!

  36. Glad to see you enjoyed these. I think The Girl would like them. Thanks for the giveaway. Oh, and I'm already a follower.

    Diary of an Eccentric
    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

  37. I have read both books.. And then I gave them to my 11 year old great nephew.
    They are hard to put down ! Look forward to the next one.

    a" Booster" regular

  38. Please count me in! They sound amzing and it is worlwide!

    I'm already a follower and I have tweeted about it



  39. WOW! All of a sudden the Zan-Gah orders have started pouring in. I don't know what happened. It must be all of those blog reviews I have been getting lately. Not a single order for a while, and suddenly I am selling Zan-Gah by the case! I may even have to go to press again (3rd printing!). My thanks to you, to my many reviewers, and to all of my new readers. People are paying attention.

    Allan R. Shickman

  40. Allan, thank you for the opportunity to read and review Zan-Gah--and also for the wonderful comments.


  41. The third book of the Zan-Gah series, Dael and the Painted People, is nearly finished. Watch for it this summer at the new web address:


    I hope you will pay us a visit.

    Allan R. Shickman

  42. Allan, thanks for the notice! I look forward to reading your newest book.


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