from the dustjacket of the Crown first edition
AN OLD TALE CARVED OUT OF STONETranslated from the Russian by Maria Polushkin
A noted Soviet archeologist has written this story about a tribe living four thousand years ago in Neolithic Siberia. When the shaman's responsibility for finding fish and game falls to seventeen-year-old Liok, he accepts it reluctantly, knowing that he has never seen Roko, Friend of the Hunters, or heard the spirit voices which are the proof of a true shaman. Relying on his own observation and ingenuity, Liok successfully finds game for the hunters, and for a while all but the elders are convinced that his power is real. Liok's unconventional ways puzzle his people, however, and when they discover a token he has carelessly lost from his necklace, Liok flees inland. As a weapons maker for a more advanced tribe, Liok gathers flint in an area forbidden by custom. This time his flaunting of tradition causes his wife to be sacrificed, and grief-stricken Liok begins the long journey home, hoping his people will accept the new ways he has learned which are based on reason rather than magic.
A haunting story of which Kirkus Reviews said, "... the reluctant shaman whose innovations bring him up against a people ruled by custom is an unusually solid link between modern and ancient world views ... the background of ritual and superstition is richly detailed, the psychology of the tribesmen who want better ways of doing things but find their only security in tradition is convincing....
A. LINEVSKI is a highly respected archeologist in the Soviet Union. An Old Tale Carved Out of Stone is set in the area which interests him most, Neolithic Siberia. He has drawn not only on the stone carvings, dating back to Neolithic times, which still line the rocky shores of the White Sea, but also upon the journals of seventeenth and eighteenth century travelers to Siberia, who were amazed to discover tribes living virtually in the Stone Age.
MARIA POLUSHKIN'S most recent translation for young adult readers, A Late Born Child, was a nominee for the 1973 Mildred Batchelder Award. She is a former children's book editor and now lives with her husband in East Hampton, New York.