Home: Alternate History Books

 Native American
 Parallel Worlds
 Time Travel
 World Conquest

 Stone Age
 Bronze Age
 Dark Ages
 Middle Ages
 American Revolution
 American Civil War
 British Empire
 World War I
 World War II
 Cold War / World War III

 Alien Space Bats
 Alternate History
 Alternate Timeline
 Double Blind What If
 Our Timeline
 Point of Divergence
 Secret History

 Against the Day
 Against the Tide of Years
 Age of Tolerance
 Agent of Byzantium
 Almost America
 Alternate Americas
 Alternate Empires
 Alternate Generals
 Alternate Generals II
 Alternate Generals III
 Alternate Gettysburgs
 Alternate Heroes
 Alternate Kennedys
 Alternate Outlaws
 Alternate Presidents
 Alternate Skiffy
 Alternate Tyrants
 Alternate Warriors
 Alternate Wars
 American Empire: Blood and Iron
 American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold
 American Empire: The Victorious Opposition
 American Indian Victories
 Anno Dracula
 Anvil of Necessity
 Aztec Century
 Back in the USSA
 Battle of the Bulge
 The Best Alternate History Stories
 The Big One
 Black Powder War
 Bloody Red Baron
 A Book of Alternate Worlds
 Bring the Jubilee
 Britannia's Fist
 The Burning Mountain
 By Any Other Fame
 Camelot Revisited
 A Change of Regime
 Children of Apollo
 The Children's War
 Clash of Eagles
 Cold War Hot
 Colonization: Aftershocks
 Colonization: Down to Earth
 Colonization: Second Contact
 The Company of the Dead
 The Confederate States of America
 Cracken at Critical
 The Crystal Empire
 A Dangerous Energy
 A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
 Days of Infamy
 Death is Lighter Than a Feather
 Designated Targets
 Desperate Times
 The Difference Engine
 A Different Flesh
 Disaster at D-Day
 A Disturbance of Fate
 Dixie Victorious
 The Domination
 The Dominion's Dilemma
 Dragon America
 El Sombra
 Empire of Fear
 Empire of Ivory
 End of the Beginning
 Fiends of the Eastern Front
 Fiends of the Rising Sun
 Final Impact
 For Want of a Nail
 The Foresight War
 Fox at the Front
 Fox on the Rhine
 From The Heart Of The Storm
 Gettysburg: An Alternate History
 The Ghosts of Antietam
 Grant Comes East
 Grantville Gazette
 Grantville Gazette II
 Grantville Gazette III
 Grantville Gazette IV
 Gray Tide in the East
 The Great Game
 Great War: American Front
 Great War: Breakthroughs
 Great War: Walk in Hell
 Guns of the South
 The Hammer and the Cross
 Hannibal's Children
 His Majesty's Dragon
 History Revisited
 Hitler Options
 Hitler Triumphant
 Hitler Victorious
 Homeward Bound
 How Few Remain
 The Human Front
 Human Nature
 If Hitler Had Won
 If It Had Happened Otherwise
 If The South Had Won The Civil War
 In the Courts of the Crimson Kings
 In the Morning
 In the Presence of Mine Enemies
 The Iron Dream
 Iron Maiden
 Island in the Sea of Time
 Judgment of Tears
 Lee At Chattanooga
 Lest Darkness Fall
 Leviathan Rising
 The Lion is Humbled
 Lion's Blood
 The Lion's Way
 Luftwaffe Victorious
 MacArthur's War
 Making History
 The Man in the High Castle
 The Man With the Iron Heart
 Marching Through Georgia
 McGwire the Pitcher
 Midas Sheffield & Co.
 Ministry of Space
 Moon of Ice
 A More Perfect Union
 More What If?
 The Moscow Option
 Naked Presidents
 The Napoleon Options
 Never Call Retreat
 New Zealand As It Might Have Been
 A Nomad of the Time Streams
 On the Oceans of Eternity
 One Lamp
 Operation Lucifer
 The Other Teddy Roosevelts
 Pacific Empire
 Pearl Harbor
 The Peshawar Lancers
 Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas
 The Plot Against America
 President Gore
 Prime Minister Portillo...
 The Probability Broach
 The Proteus Operation
 A Rebel In Time
 Rebel Nation
 Red Sun
 Resurrection Day
 Return to Eden
 Ring of Fire
 Ring of Fire II
 Rising Sun Victorious
 Roads Not Taken
 Ruled Britannia
 Russian Amerika
 The Separation
 Settling Accounts: Drive to the East
 Settling Accounts: The Grapple
 Settling Accounts: In at the Death
 Settling Accounts: Return Engagement
 Severed Wing
 The Shadow of the Storm
 The Sky People
 The Sound of His Horn
 Spirit of Thunder
 Stars and Stripes Forever
 Stars and Stripes In Peril
 Stars and Stripes Triumphant
 The Stone Dogs
 Things Unborn
 Third Reich Victorious
 Throne of Jade
 Through the Night
 To Bring the Light
 The Tranquility Alternative
 A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
 The Trinity Paradox
 Triumph of the Third Reich
 The Two Georges
 The Ultimate Solution
 Under the Yoke
 Unmaking the West
 Unnatural History
 Virtual History
 The Way It Wasn't
 Weapons of Choice
 West of Eden
 What If?
 What If? 2
 What If? Australian History...
 What If The Babe
 What Ifs? Of American History
 What Might Have Been
 What Might Have Been: Vol 1
 What Might Have Been: Vol 2
 What Might Have Been: Vol 3
 What Might Have Been: Vol 4
 Winter in Eden
 A World of Difference
 Worlds of the Imperium
 Worldwar: In the Balance
 Worldwar: Striking the Balance
 Worldwar: Tilting the Balance
 Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance
 The Year the Cloud Fell
 The Years of Rice and Salt
 The Yiddish Policemen's Union
 Zulu Heart
 1634: The Baltic War
 1634: The Bavarian Crisis
 1634: The Galileo Affair
 1634: The Ram Rebellion
 1635: Cannon Law
 1635: The Dreeson Incident
 1812: The Rivers War
 1824: The Arkansas War
 1942: A Novel
 1945: A Novel
Alternate History Books   >   Books   >   West of Eden


West of Eden

    Stone age humans versus intelligent reptiles.

Prequels & Sequels:

This book is part of a three book series (trilogy):
  1. West of Eden
  2. Winter in Eden
  3. Return to Eden

Review of West of Eden:

This book and its two sequels are based on a wonderful, if arguably not very plausible idea, namely that the asteroid that hit the Earth 65 million years ago did not do so, the dinosaurs did not become extinct, and now, in the present day, intelligent reptiles come into conflict with stone age humans (supposedly evolved from New World primates).

The intelligent reptiles species in the novels are known as the Yilané. In the story, they are trying to expand into North America, and thus entering into conflict with humans. The author, Harry Harrison, has done an wonderful job of creating an imaginative society for the Yilané, for example, their society is matriarchal and makes extensive use of biological technologies, especially genetically engineered devices; the Yilané's submarines are modified ichthyosaurs, their boats are modified squids, their guns are modified monitor lizards, and their microscopes are frogs. In the novels, the Yilané's main role is to be the enemy for humans - I actually would have liked to find out more about them.

There are many good things about these books, they are interesting to read, fast-paced, and you want to know what happens next. That said, there were things that I felt were not sufficiently thought through. It's obvious that Harry Harrison did put a lot of research into some areas (there's a quite detailed appendix for example), which makes these points even more annoying.
  • The Yilané are supposed evolved from mosasaurs, a group of large marine reptiles that in reality went extinct at about the same time as dinosaurs. I don't know why Harry Harrison made this decision, as it seems very odd, especially since he could have chosen any one of numerous species of dinosaur as an ancestor instead.

    Many readers also make the mistake of describing the Yilané as dinosaurs - they're not! Not all large reptiles were dinosaurs! (I don't recall Harry Harrison making this mistake in the text).

  • If the Yilané were evolved from mosasaurs (whose limbs had evolved into flippers), how did they back-evolve hands? Dollo's Law states the evolution is not substantively reversible because it's too statistically improbable. (To be fair, there have been some challenges made to Dollo's Law).

  • Why are the dinosaurs depicted as slow-moving cold-blooded reptiles? Even in the 1980s, when these novels were written, a view of the dinosaurs as warm-blooded creatures was becoming more mainstream.

  • Why are the dinosaurs (and apparently all reptiles in the story) poisonous to humans? In our timeline, humans have no trouble eating turtle, alligator, iguana or snake.

  • I may well be mistaken, but I think that some of the dinosaurs featured were already extinct long before the KT boundary (65 million years ago when the asteroid hit the Earth).

  • Despite mammals being confined to a small corner of the world, and presumably having evolved by a completely different route (for example, no large mammal species is supposed to have evolved in the Old World), they seem surprisingly similar to our timeline's mammals.

  • Personally I couldn't quite accept the Yilané society. They are an advanced technologically sophisticated species, but do not use fire as part of their technology. Similarly, despite having relatively advanced technologies like submarines, they don't seem to have previously explored North America - it's worth remembering that our timeline's humans were able to occupy the whole of the Americas and Australia using nothing more than stone age technology.
It is possible to put aside most of these points when reading, because you get caught up in what is a fast-paced adventure novel. One other thing that I did miss however was the trademark humor that we often see in many of Harry Harrison's works.

To summarize, I would say this is a good read, but perhaps not quite as good as it could have been. I'd certainly recommend it even though I did have some concerns about the scientific accuracy and plausibility of the story.

Dino Diego - Video Discussion


Copyright (C) 2007-2024, Answers 2000 Limited


Disclosure: Our company's websites' content (including this website's content) includes advertisements for our own company's websites, products, and services, and for other organization's websites, products, and services. In the case of links to other organization's websites, our company may receive a payment, (1) if you purchase products or services, or (2) if you sign-up for third party offers, after following links from this website. Unless specifically otherwise stated, information about other organization's products and services, is based on information provided by that organization, the product/service vendor, and/or publicly available information - and should not be taken to mean that we have used the product/service in question. Additionally, our company's websites contain some adverts which we are paid to display, but whose content is not selected by us, such as Google AdSense ads. For more detailed information, please see Advertising/Endorsements Disclosures

Our sites use cookies, some of which may already be set on your computer. Use of our site constitutes consent for this. For details, please see Privacy.

Click privacy for information about our company's privacy, data collection and data retention policies, and your rights.

Contact Us   Privacy   Terms of Use   Advertising/Endorsements Disclosures

In Association With Amazon.com
Answers 2000 Limited is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
In Association With Amazon.co.uk
Answers 2000 Limited is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.
As an Amazon Associate, our company earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon, the Amazon logo, Endless, and the Endless logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

All trademarks are property of their respective owners.
All third party content and adverts are copyright of their respective owners.