This is a review of “The Shelters of Stone” by Jean M. Auel. It is the 5th book in the Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Plains of Passage“.
Ayla and Jondalar have arrived at the Ninth Cave of The Zelandonii, home of Jondalar’s people. Jondalar is worried that people will not accept Ayla, and will shun her for being raised by Neanderthals (or ‘Flatheads’- a derogatory term). Add to that, her healing prowess and strange accent and ability to talk to and enthrall animals, Ayla does seem strange and not-quite real.
Indeed, Ayla does face some ill-will, mostly from Jondalar’s ex lover Marona, but most of the Zelandonii people are welcoming to Ayla, and in awe of her skills. She is considered to be beautiful and kind. Ayla is pregnant. While many do not, she believes that men play a role in the making of a baby. She tries to convince Jondalar of this, but he remains uncertain.
Ayla befriends Zelandoni, formerly known as Zelona, another ex-lover of Jondalar and the spiritual leader for the Zelandonii people. Her roles are many and varied, but foremost she is doctor, counsellor and priest. Zelandonii believes that Ayla should become her acolyte.
Still, apart from their acceptance of her, Ayla can see that Jondalar’s people do believe Neanderthals to be lesser than them. They call them “Flatheads” and believe them to be stupid. Even though they have clan members that resemble the Neanderthal people, and are most likely of Neanderthal descent, they believe “The Flatheads” to be little more than animals.
Ayla goes a long way into changing this opinion. She shows them the language used by the Neanderthal people and many see that her healing art is quite advanced.
Jondalar spends the entire novel waiting for the day when he can formally marry Ayla. They marry, and Ayla gives birth to their child.
An interesting book, with a strong spiritual aspect, and some lessons in morality. I highly recommend it!