Book two in the New York Times–bestselling author’s world history–spanning epic that began with Isle of Woman.
Piers Anthony’s Shame of Man is a towering saga of remarkable scope, retelling the story of humanity in a daring and exciting way. At once grand in scope and intimate in human detail, Shame of Man recounts the stunning journey of a single family reborn again and again throughout history. Beginning in the earliest origins of our ancient ancestors who emerged from the Eden of Africa millions of years ago, Shame of Man follows two lovers—Hugh, a dreamer and musician, and his beloved Ann, a beautiful dancer—as they struggle to preserve their family and their way of life during some of the most turbulent periods of our savage past.
Their saga takes them from the caves of prehistoric Europe to the Holy Land in the time of King David, through the imperial court of third century Japan, and Damascus in the early days of Islam, to Central Asia in the era of Genghis Khan, and the fallen paradise of Easter Island, concluding with a harrowing glimpse of our future, in the wreckage of a world devastated by global ecological catastrophe. Through their eyes we experience humanity’s greatest triumphs, and witness its greatest shame, the relentless exploitation of nature that now threatens our very survival.
That Anthony has attempted to write a multicultural work is laudable, if bemusing. Yet Anthony clearly cares about this book and, as in Isle of Women, the first volume in this series, imbues its serious, ambitious text with the frenetic action and joie de vivre for which he is known. Covering several thousand years, Anthony presents sets of similarly named characters in assorted situations and cultures. The always left-handed but never sinister Hugh and his wife Ann (and variant names thereon) are the good couple, while Bub and Sis do ill from Neanderthal times up through the near-future. Anthony can't quite manage to present any character who comes off as truly evil-Bub never rises above caricature, while Sis has several redemptive moments-but the effort here is honest, one whose spiritual antecedent appears to be Will Cuppy's The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. There are moments when the Anthony that many condemn comes through, mostly in the early sections (for example, when a woman whose baby is killed before her eyes immediately has sex with the killer), but, overall, this is an encouraging work. There's enough action to satisfy Anthony's Xanth readers, while those who stopped reading him around the time of Macroscope may be pleasantly surprised by what they will find here.