IN THE BEGINNING: THE EARLY DAYS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
by Jaime Reyes
It is 40,000 BCE, and Neanderthals believe in spirit gods. Og is an ancient, exceptionally intelligent Neanderthal. As he sits in his cave sheltered from the vicious storm that rages outside, he knows there must be a better way to survive. Now all he has to do is convince his tribal troupe that he has the answers to their fears and apprehensions.
After he convinces Chief Olo that he can appease the spirit gods and end the storm by performing a ritual he learned from his father, Og puts on a colorful show with rattles, bones, and face paint. When the storm subsides and it becomes evident that Og displays some power over the elements, he begins to receive respect from most tribal members—except the insecure chief, who is threatened by him. But when Og saves the chief ’s life, he makes way for Og to become the tribe’s first fully anointed priest and create a legend whose idea of persuasive idolization will spread throughout the old and new world and carry on into the future.
In the Beginning shares the compelling tale of a Neanderthal man’s journey as he becomes spiritual leader of his clan and passes his knowledge on to his descendants so they can continue to benefit.
Jaime Reyes does a great job with creating a setting and environment for the story. The story is as simple as it is powerful… I would think, In the Beginning, is a good read for younger generations who only begin to ask questions and doubt everything around them.
Reyes has a simple writing style, akin to an old legend such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The style is very simple, light on dialogue and focused on the action. … there are many detailed battle scenes that narrate the protagonist’s precise thought process in the heat of battle, down to each parry and sidestep.
The book’s premise is intriguing, and the story offers some rewards.
BLUE INK REVIEWS
This story is set in a difficult era to create a work of fiction… As Reyes points out in some of the book’s supplementary material, there’s still so much we don’t know about human life back then.. This took more imagination than most book settings and takes historical fiction to a whole new extreme… However, when a book makes you imagine what the world might have been like a long time before you and I came on the scene, it’s fascinating, indeed.
It’s the greatest story ever told, the origin of our belief in gods—not in just Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or any other specific religion but in religion itself… Jaime Reyes, author of In the Beginning, presents an enticing theory in his fictional tale. I loved the idea of a Neanderthal having begun the concept of religion.. The story did not disappoint. The plot is simple yet strong; it makes perfect sense. Every part of this novel, from the history of Neanderthals to tiny moments of character development, play an important role. Reyes does well in planting minor seeds in the readers’ heads only to return to them and make them greatly more significant later on. Better yet, I could not always predict which of these small details would be key a few chapters later. This fact alone is enough to keep the reader going, just to see how a minor character or seemingly mundane event might return with a vengeance.
“Reyes’ book is both scholarly nonfiction and enjoyable fable. In postulating the family of Og and its adventures and incremental advances in such crucial necessities as weaponry, food preservation, and construction, he intends to show how not only religion but civilization could have developed. His story will enthrall all thoughtful readers. Importantly, the concepts behind it may comprise material for lively discussions, suggesting that the basis of religion and spirituality grew out of serendipity, active curiosity, and a simple human longing for the understanding and control of natural forces.”
RECOMMENDED BY THE US REVIEW OF BOOKS
At first glance I thought this would be a non-fiction novel about spirituality, but it turned out to be a wonderful fictional account of the beginning of religion. The author envisions the sparks of belief in deities as far back as the Neanderthals. His imagination alone in the creation of gods is enough to keep a reader interested, but it is only one facet of an incredibly interesting read… I think that Jaime Reyes has not yet reached his peak in storytelling. He is a natural and needs only to polish a few structural areas of his writing. I look forward to reading more by this author, and I hope that he will continue to share his imagination with the world. It is hard to place this book in a single genre because it casts such a wide net. While there are some aspects of this book that I didn’t love, I deeply enjoyed the story. In actuality, I would love to see this book adapted into a movie. Until that time, I endorse this book as a fantastically fun read that lays somewhere between fiction and reality and plays with themes of love, violence, and one man’s theory of the origins of religion”
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