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So, too, does his fear of being imprisoned for stealing the object. It should come as no surprise, in a novel that opens with crime scene tapes and exploding museums, that the story of Theo and the painting is a story of betrayal, suspicion, double-dealing and shoot-outs. To say any more about the events of the novel would be to deprive a reader of the great joy of being swept up by the plot. The novel isn't, of course, all action and suspense. Some of its most memorable moments occur in stillness.

Now, transfigured — cold and glorious like deities with their disguises flung off — it was as if they'd flown through the roof and into the sky to assume their true, celestial homes. Tartt may already have displayed her great gift for plot in her debut, but the emotional register of The Goldfinch is of a different order from either of her previous works.

It would be wrong, however, to think that all the emotions are centred around loss. Not for Tartt the kind of clever riffs, halfway between standup comedy and op-ed columns, which are too commonly found in contemporary fiction. And … all love. Topics Donna Tartt Book of the week. Fiction reviews. Reuse this content. He would smash at least one shaggy skull.

Viran looked back at Deter, who staggered under the weight of the big basket full of herbs he had strapped to his broad back. Roc and Raul walked close behind Deter, equally loaded up. All three youths were big and strong, chosen for missions like this one, but they had been traveling far too long and it began to show in their movements.

They must have been hiding in the trees, waiting silently for the Humans to walk into their trap. Neanders were not too smart, but they were cunning. At least a dozen of them dropped into their midst.

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Viran swung his big hammer and smashed it onto a shaggy head. He uttered a triumphant war cry as his opponent crumbled to the ground. Beside him Rim pulled his bloodied spear out of a thick, hairy body. Another huge shadow loomed in front of Viran, long sharp teeth gleamed in a gaping mouth.

An angry roar erupted beside him. Pulling back his hammer, he drove the wooden handle into another of the creatures. He heard the dull thud of the impact, and then a pair of muscular hairy arms wrapped themselves around his chest in a crushing grip. He almost gagged when the stench of the Neander rose up into his nostrils. Even though big and strong, Viran felt helpless in the embrace of the big brute. Twisting and thrashing, he tried to dislodge the creature.

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When he thought his ribs would crack, the pressure suddenly lifted and he slipped out of the deadly embrace. He looked up to see Horgan grinning at him, his axe still embedded in the hairy back of the Neander. Viran became aware of the sudden silence and realized the fight was over.

He stared down at the lifeless bodies of their attackers. Picking up his war-hammer, which had dropped from powerless fingers, he looked at Horgan.

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Horgan laughed. A shadowy figure dropped from the branches, then three more. Small humanoid creatures with large, black eyes. This puzzled him. Tree-devils never attacked Humans. He shouldered his beefy body past Viran. We are being summoned.

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The little creature stared at him with his large round eyes, then it turned and began walking back on the narrow path. The other three followed him.

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One looked back at the Humans, lifted a long arm and made a beckoning gesture. Muttering, they dropped their baskets and, reluctantly, they followed their leader. The herbs and berries would keep. The baskets were woven from tough vines and covered with thick skins taken from sea bulls. As they walked behind the four small creatures Viran heard twittering voices and soft rustling in the branches above. When he looked up, he saw small dark shadows flitting through the trees. The Tree-devils took the narrower path, and they followed it for quite some time.

The path became wider, ended in a clearing. Before them lay the ruins of some kind of building. Moss covered the wide steps that led to a gaping opening. Creeping vines clung to crumbling pillars and rough stone walls. The two moons threw double shadows as they bathed the ancient ruins with their silvery light. Viran realized suddenly that the Tree-devils were gone. The team leader stared at the dark opening that led into the interior of the ancient building.

Gripping his war-hammer tight in his right fist, Viran followed the big man. The others tagged along with little enthusiasm. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness inside, they saw a large chamber. Moonlight spilled through openings in the slime covered stone walls. As if by design the light illuminated a chair carved from stone in the center of the chamber. The chair was occupied. At first Viran mistook it for another statue, but then the figure moved and rose. Viran gasped. Tall, her red, flaming hair falling across bare shoulders and spilling down her back, her breasts large and round, and her legs long and slim, she looked like a vision out of a dream.

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She stepped fully into the moonlight, and Viran moaned when he saw her perfect naked body and her beautiful face. I am The Mother of Light. I am a goddess.

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