Stone Age Fantasy: A Simple Guide (2024 Edition)

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Fans of the fantasy genre know that there are countless ways to categorize subgenres like stone age fantasy in this classification of literature. There are so many great elements of fantasy that it is impossible to combine them all into one book. Magic, the supernatural, and the mythical are each massive topics. Thus, it can be helpful to break fantasy down into smaller subgenres. It makes choosing something to read simpler since you can select subgenres you prefer and avoid the ones you don’t. 

Stone Age fantasy is a genre that is not very popular, but it definitely has a loyal fan base. If you are familiar with Iron Age or Bronze Age fantasy, you will find that there are many similarities between them. Each of these time periods came one after the other with clear advancements in technology and weaponry. And although they each have their own defining features, they often have similar tones and themes in them.  

Stone Age

The Stone Age is a very large time period, lasting about 3.4 million years. Experts often disagree about when the Stone Age truly ended, but most will agree that it was sometime between 4,000 and 2,000 BCE. Regardless, the exact dates or years in which a Stone Age fantasy story takes place aren’t that important.

The defining traits of the Stone Age are the use of stone to do just about everything. Prehistoric humans used stone to hunt for food, make weapons, and build homes. Everything these humans needed to do to live they did with stone. The Stone Age ended when humans began to do these tasks with metals rather than stone. The Iron Age followed the Bronze Age which followed the Stone Age. Each of these time periods used their respective metal to advance the technology and living status of the humans of the time. 

Though we often think of the Stone Age as a time when cavemen and dinosaurs coexisted, current scientific evidence doesn’t support this idea. Dinosaurs seem to have roamed the earth long before any human-like species exited. The image of a caveman in the Stone Age is, however, quite accurate. Many of the humans who existed during this time were cave-dwellers. Regardless, not all stone age fantasy stories adhere to this scientific idea. Thus, many stone age fantasy stories do have dinosaurs in them.

Stone Age Fantasy 

stone age fantasy fanart

Stone Age fantasy is a genre that many don’t know about. When we think of fantasy novels, we often think of the Middle Ages (or a middle-age-like period) as the predominant time period. And while medieval-like time periods are quite popular in fantasy, fantasy stories can occur in any time period. 

For a novel to be a fantasy, it must contain elements of magic or the supernatural. And in a Stone Age fantasy, supernatural elements might be less pronounced than they are in other sub-genres. But they are still important. Even without driving the story, magic still exists and plays a role in this type of novel. 

A Stone Age fantasy will blend elements of fantasy into the Stone Age. Often, this is seen as people talking with spirits or learning about magic, but it could be just about anything. Dragons and elves may not be a common occurrence, but that doesn’t mean they won’t pop up every now and then. 

Examples of Stone Age Fantasy

Now that you have an understanding of Stone Age fantasy, you may want to know of some stone age fantasy stories to read. There are quite a few excellent Stone Age fantasy novels out there. Though they can be a bit tricky to find if you don’t know what to look for. Take a look at the examples of Stone Age fantasy below. 

The Clan of the Cave Bear

One of the most popular fantasy novels set in the Stone Age is The Clan of the Cave Bear. It is a 1980 novel by Jean M. Auel. The Clan of the Cave Bear is the first novel in the six-novel Earth’s Children series. The series focuses on the interactions between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon humans and their relationships.

The Clan of the Cave Bear begins with a Cro-Magnon little girl who was just orphaned by an earthquake. She finds a group of Neanderthals who are also facing issues due to the earthquake. The Neanderthals reluctantly take the little girl in, and she grows up among them. She learns about the spirits and the healing methods that they believe in, and she is thought of as good luck for the group of Neanderthals. This novel is heartbreaking, fascinating, and probably unlike anything you have read before. 

West of Eden 

Another great Stone Age fantasy novel that is worth picking up is West of Eden by Harry Harrison. This novel tells of an alternate universe in which the Earth was not struck by an asteroid, and dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures continued to live and evolve. The novel goes on to tell the story of the Stone Age humans interacting with the new creatures that exist in the world. 

This novel is full of wars, mythical creatures, and epic adventures. There is likely something for almost any reader in this book. The fantasy elements of this novel are at the forefront of the story more than in The Clan of the Cave Bear, so it is a great stepping stone for someone who enjoys fantasy to branch out into other genres. 

Stone Age Fantasy: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about!

And if you want to read more about fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!

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