#Bookreview – Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray

Book reviews

What Amazon Says

Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, Survival of the Fittest is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.

Chased by a ruthless enemy, Xhosa leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands following a path laid out decades before by her father, to be followed only as a last resort. She is joined by other fleeing tribes from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant, all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, tragedy, secrets, and Nature itself, Xhosa is forced to face the reality that her enemy doesn’t want to ruin her People. It wants to ruin her.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia, where ‘survival of the fittest’ was not a slogan. It was a destiny. Xhosa’s People were from a violent species, one fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened their lives except for one: future man, a smarter version of themselves, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

My review

Survival of the Fittest is the second of Jacqui Murray’s prehistoric man books that I have read. The first, Born in a Treacherous time, is the story of a prehistoric woman, Lucy, and her struggle for survival in the harsh conditions of a continuously changing landscape and set of increasing adverse circumstances. Lucy journeys to find a safer home for her loved ones.

Survival of the Fittest is set at a slightly later date and features Xhosa, the unusually adaptable and innovative daughter of the leader of a large group called “the People”. Xhosa has been allowed to learn to use weapons and hunt with the warriors of the group and has a strong relationship with Nightshade, a giant of young warrior, who is her father’s Lead Warrior at the commencement of the story. Early in the story, a hunting group including Xhosa’s father, Xhosa herself and Nightshade are attacked by a savage group of a different people called “the Others” and Xhosa’s father is killed during the resulting skirmish. These leads to a battle for leadership between Xhosa and Nightshade which results in a lot of unresolved issues and conflicts between the pair.

The Others are more advanced that the People and have sharp stone tipped spears which fly much further than the People’s heavier and less innovative weapons. It soon becomes apparent that the People are in grave danger from the threat posed by the Others who covet their land, which is rich and desirable. Xhosa wants to leave and search for a new home for the People, following the cairns left by her father when he made a journey years before. Nightshare wants to stay and fight. Before a decision is made, the dynamics of the People change due to the arrival of another group, led by Pan-do and his young and unusual daughter, Lyta.

This book is well researched and every sentence demonstrates the author’s excellent knowledge of her subject and this time period. The story is similar in some respects to the Earth Children series but I find it more realistic and I don’t have to suspend my belief nearly as much while reading this book.

The characters in this new story are engaging and interesting. Xhosa is an unusual woman of high intellect and great physical strength. Her father has encouraged her to follow a different path from the other women of the tribe and learn to fight and lead like a man. Xhosa is driven by her need to do the best she can for her people and ensure the survival of the tribe. She realises that this goal means she has to be prepared to uproot the group from their current home and strike out in search of a new home. She also knows that the journey will not be easy and that many will be sacrificed along the way. Xhosa is a good leader and is prepared to take the necessary steps to do this.

Nightshade is a conflicted personality. He comes across as loyal, in many ways, to Xhosa but also jealous of her position within the tribe and irritated by her leadership methods and decisions. I never felt comfortable that Nightshade was truly behind Xhosa and felt she should be wary of him which, of course, she isn’t.

Pan-do was my favourite character in the book. He is the perfect leader, binding the group together and providing for distraction and light relief when needed to prevent the group from becoming overwhelmed and despairing. He is also cunning and clever and saves Xhosa, Nightshade and the People from certain death on more than one occasion. Pan-do is open minded and is devoted to his daughter who is a bit of a psychic and has visions. This quality of Pan-do’s extends to other people within the tribe who have unusual insight.

This book will appeal to readers who enjoy a well-researched and believable historical novel with a solid plot and well developed and interesting characters.

Purchase Survival of the Fittest

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Survival of the Fittest (the Crossroads Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition


42 thoughts on “#Bookreview – Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray

    1. Hi Darlene, you are write that Jacqui’s writing is very vivid. I think it is reasonable that women are portrayed as strong leaders at this time as, my understanding is, that women were treated well and looked up to in their roles as the creators of life.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Robbie, a superb and thorough review. You give wonderfully detailed analysis of the main characters in the book and the writing style … although I have both of Jacqui’s prehistoric books on my Kindle, I’m tempted to start with this one as a result of reading your post! I recently read my first ever book in this genre, ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ and was surprised by how engaging and compelling a read it was … I am sure Jacqui’s will be equally so! Can’t wait!


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