Fast Paradise

Two summer treks across the High Arctic separated by a millennium.

The first: Qaya, a young Inuit girl in the year 1000, making her coming of age journey to hunt the great polar bear, Nannuraluk. The second: 1963 college archaeology students on a dig 500 miles from the North Pole with their professor, hoping to uncover and preserve lost secrets of early Inuit and their encounters with Norse explorers.

What starts as a routine archaeology expedition turns spiritual, if not supernatural, when the students uncover carvings in animal skin depicting the story of this young Inuit as she travels across the forbidding—and foreboding—landscape. Slowly they start to decipher the ancient language Qaya uses to carve her animal skins; the language of prehistoric Nannurmiut, People of the Bear.

The students are determined to retrace the young woman’s steps to find out what happened to her. Breaking away from their professor’s orderly dig site, they set off on their own journey across unmapped country as stark and beautiful as it was for Qaya—and as menacing and indifferent as on the first Day of Creation.

Will they survive the frozen wilderness and discover what happened to Qaya, or will her legacy be lost for another thousand years?

Beautifully penned and meticulously researched, Eric Mayer combines decades of studying prehistoric Inuit and learning from those who have explored the High Arctic, with a poetic imagination of what it would be like to come of age in the first millennium in a place where polar bears ruled the world.