[[quoteright:275:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/harrison_westofeden_6465.jpg]]

''West of Eden'' is a 1984 science fiction novel by Creator/HarryHarrison, followed by two sequels: ''Winter in Eden'' and ''Return to Eden''.

Set in an AlternateHistory where dinosaurs never went extinct (outside of North America, where modern mammals and eventually humans evolved), the story centers around the conflict between humans and the Yilanè, a race of intelligent amphibious reptiles. The main character, Kerrick, is a human who was raised by Yilanè from childhood after his tribe was wiped out by them, but eventually flees and returns to his people, where he must reacquaint himself with a life he no longer remembers and deal with the suspicions and fears his strange ways cause, while the fallout from his escape reverberates throughout the Yilanè city and influences the fate of its leader.

In ''Winter in Eden'', Kerrick and his lover Armun travel into the frigid northlands and meet the playful, promiscuous Paramutan people, while the cultural and military shifts resulting from the previous book's events continue amongst the Yilanè, threatening to completely destabilize their ways of life.

''Return to Eden'' revolves around the tensions between the humans and Yilanè reaching a boiling point, as Kerrick and his people confront his former captor, now dangerously deranged and bent on the destruction of him and all his kind.

Not related to the book (or film of it) ''Literature/EastOfEden''

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!!This book series contains examples of:

* ActualPacifist: The Daughters of Life are fundamentally opposed to harming any life form that might be intelligent enough to understand life and death. When Vaintè manipulates some of them into becoming foot soldiers in her hunt for Kerrick, they seize up and die after killing humans in the same way that a regular Yilanè would when exiled from the city.
* [[AlternateHistory Alternate Prehistory]]: The K-T extinction event never occurred; the dinosaurs are still around, and intelligent mosasaurs rule most of the world, with mammals abundant only in North America.
* AlternativeNumberSystem: Played with. Yilanè numbers are in base 10, but since they only have 8 fingers in total (two fingers and two opposable thumbs per hand) their counting skips from 7 directly to 10.
* BadassBoast: The scientist Ambalasei thinks rather highly of herself:
-->Fat gilded-beetle to be crushed! Decayed worm from the lowest dungpit! Before you stands Ambalasei highest of the high, eistaa[[labelnote:Translation]]Leader of a city.[[/labelnote]] of science, intelligence of the world, possessor of infinite powers. I should sentence you to death for your ill-speaking. I consider that now.
* BeautifulAllAlong: Once she discovers that Kerrick isn't going to mock her for her disfigurement, Armun quickly takes him for a lover and husband, gaining confidence and prestige as a result.
* BittersweetEnding: To ''Return to Eden'', and to the triolgy as a whole. [[spoiler:Vaintè is finally killed, and thus the Yilanè's active efforts to wipe out Kerrick's people are at an end. However, she took the male Nadaske with her in death; Enge and Kerrick part as friends but know that they will likely never see each other again; and Kerrick's epilogue, when he is a middle-aged if not elderly man, has him worrying that the ever-increasing Tanu population will inevitably lead to conflict between the two species again and wondering if it's too late to warn the Yilanè]].
* BizarreAlienBiology: The Yilanè are intelligent mosasaur descendants that change the colors of their palms as part of their language, can independently move their eyes, and reproduce like [[MisterSeahorse seahorses]]. Their bio-engineered tools are even more bizarre, including living dart guns; microscopes that are actually highly modified ''frogs''; squid and icthyosaur vehicles...
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: The Yilanè's BizarreAlienBiology leads to them having a strange moral compass. For example, lying is impossible (and the concept never even occurs to them [[spoiler:until Vaintè learns about it from Kerrick]]), and they are absolutely loyal to their communities to the point of dying upon exile; exiles who ''don't'' seize up and die are completely insane by Yilanè standards.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: Nearly all the dinosaurs depicted are referred to by their Yilanè names ("epetruk" for ''T. rex'', "nenitesk" for ''Triceratops'' and so on.)
* CategoryTraitor: The general Yilanè take on the Daughters of Life. Their beliefs allow them to not die when commanded so by an eistaa, and this complete rejection of the eistaa's power is seen as a betrayal of the very nature of Yilanè society.
* {{Cavemen}}: Co-existing with dinosaurs, but there's an [[AlternateHistory in-story reason for this]].
* ChainedHeat: After Kerrick's first escape attempt, he is leashed to a fargi with an unbreakable binder to prevent him from running away again.
-->'''Vaintè''': Joined together, forever inseparable. I am told our ustuzou runs very fast. Tell me, ustuzou, how fast can you run pulling this little fargi?
* DeathByChildbirth: Male Yilanè have a hard time coming out of the torpid state they enter when carrying eggs, and a third trip to the birthing beaches is pretty much a death sentence. [[spoiler:Imehei]] dies after his first birth.
-->'''Nadaske''': Once you may live, twice you may die, thrice you are dead.
* DistinguishingMark: Armun has a harelip and cleft palate, and has been a target for derision all of her life because of this and how it affects her speech. When Kerrick first meets her (not long after escaping from Alpèasak) he finds it interesting because it makes her sort of look and sound like a Yilanè, and later comes to find it just a part of her that he loves as much as everything else.
* EncyclopediaExposita: Some editions of the book carry a brief index of Yilanè bio-technology and history, as well as brief sections on Tanu and Paramutan culture.
* TheExile: [[spoiler:Vaintè]] becomes one at the end of ''Winter in Eden'', cast out [[spoiler:by Lanefenuu for challenging her orders to stop the war on the ustuzou and for not dying when ordered to do so]] and marooned somewhere on the coast of Entoban*[[note]]Africa[[/note]], far south of Ikhalmanets[[note]]a city in the Canary Islands[[/note]] or any other nearby Yilanè city.
* FantasticCasteSystem: A Yilanè's status is largely determined by how well the language is mastered. Fargi[[note]]Yilanè who are still in the learning process[[/note]] are second-class citizens and used as servants by those with a better grasp of the language.
* {{Fictionary}}: Yilanè, Tanu, Sasku and Paramutan glossaries are included alongside the aforementioned EncyclopediaExposita.
* GladIThoughtOfIt: Ambalasei pulls this on Enge after [[spoiler:learning about the primitive Yilanè and deciding to advance efforts to talk with them]], to Engeís barely-concealed irritation.
* GuiltFreeExterminationWar: Explored. The majority of Yilanè just see massacring ustuzou (humans) as pest control, and most humans return the favor. Vaintè at first considers useful ustuzou like Kerrick to be worth keeping around as tools (and later becomes psychotically obsessed with their destruction), but the Daughters of Life recognize ustuzou as sapient beings worthy of life and respect. Kerrick (after rejoining the humans) rejects the position that Yilanè are AlwaysChaoticEvil, and draws a demarcation between Yilanè who are killing humans and Yilanè who humanity can coexist with, a sentiment few of his cohorts agree with.
* [[InterspeciesRomance Interspecies Sex]]: "Romance" isn't the right word for it, but we don't have a simple trope for interspecies rape.
* KillItWithFire: This is an important plot point in the climaxes of the first two books. In ''West of Eden'', [[spoiler:Kerrick and some of the other hunters burn Alpèasak, killing the vast majority of the Yilanè on their continent]]. In ''Winter In Eden'', [[spoiler:Kerrick uses the threat of torching Ikhalmanets as leverage to force Lanefenuu to call off Vaintè and her war on the ustuzou]].
* {{Koan}}: Franchise/SherlockHolmes' saying about the truth being what's left when the impossible is eliminated is [[ShoutOut invoked almost word for word]] in Vaintè's thoughts as she tries to process [[spoiler:the lie Kerrick told which led to his first escape attempt, or rather, the very concept of being able to say something and it not be the truth]].
* LadyLand: Yilanè culture is ruled by the females; they control politics, science, and the military, and have free access to the entire city. Males are artisans, poets and ultimately brood mares, kept isolated in a particular part of the city and rarely interacting with females beyond breeding or on the birthing beaches.
* LanguageOfTruth: The nature of Yilanè language and thought processes makes them incapable of lying...[[spoiler:until Vaintè discovers the concept after seeing Kerrick do it]].
* LiveMinkCoat: Since the Yilanè are ectothermic, to keep warm in cooler parts of the day they use cloaks which are another one of their bioengineered animals.
* LivingShip: Yilanè sail the seas using genetically modified icthyosaurs with a compartment in their dorsal fin, as well as modified squid as smaller boats.
* LivingWeapon: Alpèasak is guarded by all kinds of living traps, but the one that gets the most mention is the hèsotsan, a genetically modified monitor lizard that shoots poisoned darts and is the Yilanè's main personal weapon. The concept is taken further in ''Winter in Eden'', as rather than marching an army against the ustuzou, ever-encroaching and fireproof poisonous plants are used to slowly push them into a trap.
* LizardFolk: The Yilanè, human-sized bipedal mosasaurs directly descended from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tylosaurus Tylosaurus]].
* LookBehindYou: Vaintè has Kerrick use this as a distraction [[spoiler:to murder another eistaa's agent and make it look like the work of Kerrick's people]].
* MaleToFemaleUniversalAdaptor: Yilanè have reptilian genitalia, including hemipenes on the males. However, the female genitals are compatible ''enough'' with human equipment that Vaintè uses Kerrick for sex repeatedly. Since Kerrick was raised by Yilanè from before puberty, he has no concept of normal sexual relations and enjoys these copulations, but once he returns to the Tanu, he starts looking back on his time with Vaintè in [[{{Squick}} disgust and horror]].
* MaliciousMisnaming: Ambalasei's exasperation with the Daughters of Life leads her to address them with unflattering spins on their name, such as Daughters of Lassitude and Daughters of Talk.
* MisterSeahorse: Yilanè reproduce in a similar manner to, you guessed it, seahorses.
* MutualKill: At the climax of ''Return to Eden'', [[spoiler:Nadaske stabs Vaintè in the neck with Arnwheet's skymetal knife, but she shoots him with her hèsotsan as she dies]].
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: Hardwired into Yilanè biology. If a Yilanè is exiled from its city, the mental shock triggers an out-of-control variant of a hibernative state that quickly kills the exile. Some Yilanè, however, are loyal to something other than their city, and their shutdown reflex will occur in response to different stimuli. This is how the first Daughter of Life was able to survive and spread her teachings. The Yilanè are not quite sure how to cope with this.
* MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch: Enge and the other Daughters Of Life believe that anything that has enough intelligence to understand the concepts of life and death is deserving of the chance to grow and thrive. This philosophy runs extremely counter to the normal, utilitarian-minded Yilanè mindset, and as a result the Daughters are seen as subversive lunatics, shunned at best and outright persecuted at worst. Vaintè uses them as basically slave labor and, later, as cannon fodder in her hunt for Kerrick; Enge only survives similar treatment because she and Vaintè were broodmates and she has certain skills that Vaintè finds useful.
* OrganicTechnology: ''Everything'' used in Yilanè society is a product of genetic engineering. Even the ancient Yilanè began by hunting and defending their males using ''living crabs'' instead of stone tools, though one scientist suggests that early on, the Yilanè did indeed use "artefacts." In ''Winter in Eden'', [[spoiler:Ambalasei and Enge discover a tribe of primitive Yilanè that still use tools, but are making the first strides toward some of the biological manipulations commonplace to normal Yilanè]].
* OutsideContextProblem: Some more scholarly Yilanè know what fire is, but Yilanè society as a whole is completely ignorant of it, as they have engineered living things to account for everything that fire could do for them. [[spoiler:Kerrick, after realizing this, leads a group of Tanu and Sasku men to Alpèasak and burns the city.]]
* ThePhilosopher: The Daughters of Life like to spend a long time ruminating on Ugenenapsa's teachings, how to fit things in their everyday lives into those teachings, and how to spread them to others. Unfortunately, this leads to very little actually getting done, which aggravates Ambalasei to no end.
* ThePowerOfHate: Vaintè is eventually exiled herself but fails to die, thanks to her obsession with destroying humanity.
* PrehensileTail: The Paramutan have short but flexible tails which have some uses, including (for the males) covering their privates when they run around naked.
* TheProudElite: Many Yilanè that have achieved high status are arrogant and love to lord their knowledge and rank over those below them.
* PunctuationShaker: Translated Yilanè speech uses four particular symbols to noted specific sounds: ' (a glottal stop), < (tock), and ! which is both (click) and a lip smack.
* RazorFloss: The stringknife is a single-molecule fiber used as a cutting tool by the Yilanè.
* ReallyGetsAround: The Paramutan are as frisky as bonobos, and Armun has to fend off Kalaleq frequently, although he always stops when she resists as to him itís all in good fun rather than any serious attempt to assault her.
* RejectionRitual: The banishment of a Yilanè from her city is a low-key version; it can be something fairly formal sounding or something equivalent to a "Get out."
* ReptilesAreAbhorrent: The Yilanè inspire hatred and disgust from any of the humans that encounter them aside from Kerrick, although they are equally abhorrent to the Yilanè.
* SlaveLiberation: In ''Winter in Eden'', Ambalasei does a variant, [[spoiler:rescuing Enge and the Daughters of Life imprisoned in her city's orchard groves and fleeing with them to an as-yet-undiscovered land]].
* SlidingScaleOfAlternateHistoryPlausibility: "Soft" to "completely implausible," depending whether you see the "the meteor missed Earth" premise as an AlienSpaceBats element or not.
* StarfishAliens: The Yilanè are ''somewhat'' humanoid in shape, but quite different in physiology and psychology. The main conflict of the trilogy stems from them and humans being mutually repulsed by their differences.
* StarfishLanguage: The Yilanè speak in concepts rather than actual words, and the language itself is a '''complicated''' combination of spoken sounds, postures, gestures with [[HandSignals the hands]], jaw, and tail, and color signals, described in ''West of Eden'' as having thousands of separate pieces and 125 billion combinations. Many Yilané never even get the hang of it and are basically ignored by the rest of the community. Ysel, the girl that was captured with Kerrick, doesn't pay attention to the language lessons they're given and is killed when she completely botches her attempt to talk and unwittingly insults Vaintè. Kerrick, lacking a tail, can't accurately make certain movements, but he can fake it well enough to get by, and Enge teaches him a version of the language used for low-light communication which helps even more.
* StarsAreSouls: The Tanu believe that the stars are the tharms of dead hunters.
* StartingANewLife: After their escape, Ambalasei, Enge, and the Daughters of Life from Ikhalmanets eventually do this [[spoiler:somewhere on the northern coast of what would be Brazil, where they discover a primitive tribe of Yilanè and begin studying them]].
* StockDinosaurs: Quite a few ([[CallARabbitASmeerp complete with Yilanè names]]), but the Yilanè themselves are mosasaurs, not dinosaurs.
* ThunderboltIron: The knives Kerrick and his father wear are made of "skymetal."
* TookALevelInJerkass: Herilak goes from respecting Kerrick and his knowledge of the hated murgu in ''West of Eden'' to treating him like a traitor and angrily leaving with the other Tanu in ''Winter of Eden'' after Kerrick refuses to [[spoiler:abandon the ruins of Alpèasak or kill the two males who survived the fire]]. He even hits Ortnar over the head when Ortnar objects to this, knocking him out for two days and causing a brain injury that later leads to him having a stroke. By ''Return to Eden'', though, Herilak has realized what an ass he's been and made his peace with both men.
* TranslationConvention: A given, as the English language doesn't actually exist in the setting. The Yilanè have no written records because of how their language works, and any such translation of their speech is a particular challenge, which is acknowledged in the appendices in ''West of Eden''. "Fish of great size abound. Desire to catch/eat. Will small/soft go with us?", for example.
* WhatIfTheBabyIsLikeMe: Armun fears that any children she bears will also have her facial deformity. [[spoiler:They don't.]]
* WouldHurtAChild:
** This goes both ways in ''West of Eden''. Humans killing a Yilanè male and newborns is what incenses the Yilanè into their extermination efforts. When Kerrick's tribe is slaughtered, Vaintè's examination of a still-living infant human ends with her throwing it against a boulder in revulsion after it screams and pisses down her arm.
** At the climax of ''Return to Eden'', [[spoiler:Vaintè uses the threat of killing Kerrick's son Arnwheet to draw Kerrick into a position where she can shoot him]].

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