Tag Archives: Jean M. Auel

The Land of Painted Caves

This is a review of “The Land of Painted Caves” by Jean M. Auel. It is the 6th and final book in the Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Shelters of Stone“.

This book has three parts. In Part 1, Ayla is still an acolyte to the Zelandoni. She goes on a tour of the places sacred to the healing order (the painted caves). Travelling with her are Jondalar and their newborn daughter Jonayla. Their animal companions are with them too. This tour is vital in her training to become a spiritual leader.

Part 2 is set some years later than Part 1. She is taken on a more extensive tour, and is spending much more time away from her family to fulfill her healing duties. This is putting some strain on her and Jondalar.

Part 3 contains most of the storyline. She ends her training by succumbing to “The Calling” and becomes a fully fledged Zelandoni. She then makes her way to The Summer Meeting, where all of the caves of The Zelandonii people meet. On her arrival she discovers Jondalar with another woman…

Ayla feels deeply betrayed, and a large rift is created between the two. She falls into a depression that she cannot seem to shake. Will these two reconcile? Or will this be the end of Jondalar and Ayla?

Full of some amazing and intricate descriptions of prehistoric cave paintings, this book is a treat for those interested in Archaeology. However, it is quite lengthy and The Mother’s Song does get quite old as it is repeated numerous times. A good book to end a wonderful series.


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The Shelters of Stone

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!


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The Plains of Passage

This is a review of “The Plains of Passage” by Jean M. Auel. It is the 4th book in the Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Mammoth Hunters“.

In this novel, Ayla and Jondalar journey along the Great Mother River from the home of the Mamutoi to Jondalar’s people, The Zelandoni. With them, are their animal companions: horses Whinny and Racer and Wolf, the well… wolf. During their journey, Ayla and Jondalar meet various groups of people.

People that Jondalar and Thonalan met on their journey are revisited, and we get to see how Ayla interacts with all of the different people she meets. Ayla finds it particularly difficult to leave the River People.

Ayla soon discovers that not everyone views the Neanderthals as people as she does, but that most of the Cro-Magnon view them as little more than animals. Ayla shows them that they communicate with one another, just as they do, but with signs in place of words and sounds.

Before their journey has ended, Ayla and Jondalar find themselves imprisoned by a dangerous people. Can they escape and continue on to Jondalar’s people? Or will they be trapped?

An interesting and thought-provoking book.


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The Mammoth Hunters

This is a review of “The Mammoth Hunters” by Jean M. Auel. It is the 3rd book in The Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Valley of Horses“.

Ayla and Jondalar set out to find other people. They head in the direction of the Mamutoi people. This is where Jondalar was headed with his brother Thonalan before Thonalan’s demise. When they reach them, they find a warm, friendly and forthright group of people. They welcome Ayla and Jondalar into their home and teach them many things.

Ayla is even adopted by the Mamutoi, having no people to call her own. However, Jondalar is not the only male to have noticed Ayla’s beauty. Ranec, with his skin dark as coal, has fallen for Ayla and wishes to make her his own. Ayla, not fully understanding the customs of these new people goes with him one night after he requests her presence in his bed. Jondalar is very hurt by this, and stops speaking to her.

Ayla, at a loss as to what she has done wrong, is hurt by Jondalar’s avoidance of her. In her old group, (of Neanderthals) if a man requested you be his bed mate, you had to comply with his wishes. The two become more and more estranged and more and more miserable.

Can they sort out what’s wrong between them before it is too late?

A good book, although at times I wanted to slap the both of them!


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The Valley of Horses

This is a review of the book “The Valley of Horses” it is the 2nd novel of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Clan of the Cave Bear“.

This book begins where the last novel ended. Ayla has just been exiled from the Neanderthal clan, leaving her small son behind. She begins her search for her own people, the Cro Magnons, those the Neanderthals call “The Others”.

In a parallel narrative, the novel follows the adventures of Jondalar (Cro Magnon Male of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii) and his half brother Thonolan. Jondalar is accompanying his brother on his traditional Rite of Passage called the Great Journey.

Ayla travels on alone, searching for “The Others”. As winter approaches, she decides to settle down in a valley, to shelter for the winter. She is very lonely, and after killing its mother for food, she decides to befriend and take in a small filly whom she names Whinny. While in the valley she also discovers and raises a Cave Lion cub, whom she names Baby.

Jondalar and Thonolan make a home for themselves with some River People, Thonolan even mating a local woman and getting her pregnant. But when Thonolan’s mate dies during childbirth, he cannot bear to stay, and so they continue on to the Mamutoi People, The Mammoth Hunters.

As Jondalar and Thonolan journey into the valley where Ayla resides, they stumble into a Cave Lion’s den. Fortunately, the lioness is the mate of Baby, and Ayla is able to save Jondalar, however Thonolan is killed. Ayla utilizes the skills she had learned in her time as a clan Medicine Woman and nurses Jondalar back to health.

Jondalar and Ayla attempt to communicate with one another. Soon they find themselves falling in love. They decide to leave the valley at the end of the novel to seek out other people.

An interesting novel to read. The reader learns more about the people (especially the Cro Magnons) of Prehistoric Times.


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The Clan of the Cave Bear

This is a review of Jean M. Auel’s novel “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, it is the first novel in the Earth’s Children Series.

As a student of Archaeology, I loved this book. I know that this novel is considered to be a cult classic, but before this year, I’d never read them or even heard of them!

This book is set in Prehistoric times. Ayla is a Cro-Magnon human. As a small child, a devastating earthquake leaves her without parents and family. She wanders aimlessly, narrowly escaping being eaten by a cave lion. She is found by a group of Neanderthals and taken in by their kind-hearted medicine woman Iza.

Ayla is somewhat shunned because she is different. Her mind works differently, and she prefers to communicate vocally, while the Neanderthal Clan prefer to communicate mostly in silence, with hand signals. She finds it hard to fit in, and struggles with the submissiveness of clan life as woman.

Broud, son of the clan’s leader Brun, despises Ayla, he is cruel to her and forces her to do many things against her will. He delights in her misery. Soon she finds herself to be pregnant by Broud. She bears her son Durc with a lot of difficulty. Ayla finds herself intrigued with the world of the clan man. She teaches herself to hunt.

She learns to hunt efficiently with a sling and stones, and does so in secret. Soon her secret is uncovered and she finds herself in a huge amount of trouble, banished with her son, she is only allowed back into the clan of she can survive for an amount of time on her own.

An intriguing and touching, thought-provoking book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.


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