A legend of Past and future. By Mike Resnick
My wife picked this up at a book sale, and introduced me to a great new author.
Mike Resnick really has a talent for storytelling. This one is told in 12 parts, each taking place in a different time or place in the past and future. Each section starts with a monologue from the mind of a Kilimanjaro elephant, the largest land mammal. It follows his journey at the end of his life to Mount Kilimanjaro, the African mountain of god, to his death. Each segment of the book shares the elephant as its common theme, and more importantly for the title, the Ivory Tusks of this, the greatest of elephants.
The elephant is called by many names throughout the book, Malimba Temboz, (the mountain that walks), Tembo Laibon, (King of the Elephants) Mrefu Kulika Twiga (Taller than Giraffes) Bwana Mutaro (Master Furrow). The tusks of the Kilimanjaro Elephant, which are currently in the Museum of Natural History, locked in a vault in London, are lost to the ages by 6303 AD but the last member of the Maasai tribe commissions a search for them. Without ruining the story, the search takes Duncan Rojas, the senior researcher of “Braxton’s Records of Big Game” through the history of the Ivory all the way back to the death of the elephant and the reason why the last of a forgotten race is spending millions just to find this elephant’s tusks.
The depth of the detail of the African veldt seamlessly blends with the fantastic starscapes of the future. Each character is painted with depth and richness that refreshing to see.
I feel more in touch with Africa after reading this novel. My parents were missionaries to South Africa from 1986-1990. I turned 6 immediately after we arrived back in the states. I was very young, but my impressionable young mind has vivid memories of the complex blends of culture, animism, and connection to the land that the people have. I found myself reliving my past, remembering things and places that I had not thought of for a long time.
This story has a profound power to draw in the reader, each segment of the story pulling toward the end, the solution to the mystery, the culmination of the story.