Tag Archives: Ayla

Earths Children [book 6]


I finally got it finished. After a very hectic day, its done and dusted. I woke on Tuesday and made a very deliberate decision that come what may, I was finishing that damned book. I only had circa 50 pages left, nothing to me is that. I read books in two days sometimes. Very rarely does a book take longer than a week to read. But this one, it was released on 29th March and I had it the day after. Its taken about 3 weeks and has been purgatory. What am I talking about?

The Land Of Painted Caves, Jean M Auel.

The final chapter in a series named Earths Children. The first book, Clan Of The Cave Bear, was released in 1980, so its been 31 years in the making and to be honest, the way it has finished has been a major disappointment to me.

I read the first book in Canada in ’88. I was alone all week, working, and wanted something to occupy my mind in the evenings once I had showered and eaten. I didn’t like television back then either and still feel the same way about it. So I looked over the book shelf and found Clan Of The Cave Bear. Hmm, right up my street, nearly. I love historical epics as well as sci-fi. So this was all about the survival of man during the Ice Age.

Basic plot: Heroine is orphaned at 5 and is raised by “Flatheads” what we would know as Neanderthals. It’s all about her battle to adapt to a different race of people and some of the ways she survives in the harsh environment. I found it engrosing and a very enjoyable read. Slowly but surely, I have read the other 4 books as I have found them with my regular sojourns into book shops and all in all, I have enjoyed the series and was so pleased to hear of a release date for the last instalment. So far, we have Ayla [heroine] who meets Jondolar [hero] and their exploits in survival. They finally have a child, Jonayla, and three horses, Whinney, Racer and Grey, and a wolf [Wolf]. All the animals have been raised for infants by Ayla and love her as much as she loves them. There was also a lion cub, Baby, but he went back to the wild in book 3 or 4, cant be sure of which.

After an arduous journey, Ayla and Jondolar arrive at the Zelandonii territories, where Jondolar was raised and the final book is all about how their lives changed due to living with a cave of 200 odd people. Jean creates her usual intricate settings and describes the landscapes, the cave paintings, ceremonies with great detail and accuracy. After reading 5 times that Jondolar has deep blue eyes, the colour of glacial ice, I think that too much time and effort goes into all the descriptions. The first five books have been full of incidents, failings, challenges, successes, discoveries, and more and always left me wanting more. Sadly, in my opinion, the final book fails to deliver. It peters out rather boringly when you expect it to go out with less of a whimper. I felt that describing the construction of a lodge or travelling tent was only required once to understand it, not at any given point on a journey to somewhere.

Even the bad guys seem lessened in this book. Ayla has met some very dubious people in her journey across Ice Age Europe and has suffered plenty. But the less than favourable characters in The Land Of Painted Caves just about make some form of impact on the story. But the level of threat, compared to the other 5 books, is minimal and doesn’t leave an impression with the reader. We are presented with another episode of a lovers tiff between Ayla and Jondolar, which goes the exact same way as in The Mammoth Hunters, only with role reversal. I do believe that they would have both learnt a lesson about poor communication in that book, only for it to be repeated.

I am not sure how many adjectives you can find to describe a cave painting. Having had to read through endless descriptions, I think I now know how and why these effigies exist and that whoever made them was obviously skilled at what they did.

There also seemed to me, to be a rather large jump in time. Reading of the birth of their first child, then finding yourself reading about a four-year old child is slightly odd.

If I read the Mothers Song, one more time, I think I could recite it backwards. I lost count of how many times that is mentioned and gone into with depth. Maybe that was my imagination?

I also lost count of how many times Ayla defends the ‘Flatheads’ and explains they are people, just different, and not animals, like some describe them as. If you read that Iza, Aylas surrogate mother, was a medicine woman, would you require that description every time she was mentioned? Or Creb, the Clans Mog-ur [witch doctor/spiritual leader] described again and again.

My personal opinion is. Jean M Auel had some illness over the last few years, which could explain the excruciating length of time between books in this series. During that time, maybe she lost her way a little and then struggled to get it back. I am not sure the exact length of time between book 5 and book 6, but its a long time. The first three books were all released in the 1980’s. The last three books took 21 years to complete. 12 years between book 4 and 5 and 9 years between book 5 and book 6 has had a great effect on the series.

I am pleased that Jean was finally able to complete the series, but I have to admit I have been left somewhat deflated by the final book. I have stuck with this series for 23 years and to s read the final book was a huge effort, not very enjoyable and I feel kind of cheated in a way.

Read as a one-off, you might enjoy the book. I doubt you could fully understand the character though as they are developed over a long period of time. As a final book in the series, for followers, disappointing is probably an understatement.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Earth%27s_Children

A great explanation of what the series about if you do wish to know more.


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Book Review [part two]


I am not a great believer in reviews of any kind, but I love my books and reading in general and this series has been so long, I can’t let it slip away unnoticed.

I am about halfway in the last installment of the Earths Children series by Jean M Auel. The 6th and final book is titled, The Land of Painted Caves and I have to say its slow going and not that spellbinding either, which is very disappointing.

Jean does her usual descriptive narrative on the surroundings, describing in detail [some would say too much detail] and building a picture of what she wants our imaginations to see. Followers of Earths Children already know and understand the region in question and a lot of its history as well and already have pictures in our minds of what the periglacial period must have been like to the Cro-Magnon inhabitants of what we now know as France. Going into pages of diatribe about the settings involved is only necessary to new readers. If new readers are reading book 6 before the rest of the series, then they are missing out. For us loyal followers, I think that maybe Jean concentrates too much on particular landscapes and outlooks.

I am waiting for something to happen in this book and so far, not much has happened at all. The nearest we get to danger is a raft ride over some white water. There have been glimpses of the characters who show a dislike of our fair heroine, Ayla, but as yet, none have made a move to harm or discredit her in any way. I hope this changes.

So far, the focus has been on Ayla, Jondalar and their daughter Jonayla and Ayla’s becoming an Acolyte of the Zelandoni who is first among those who serve the Mother. Followers know what I am talking about. Suffice to say, Ayla is training to become a spiritual leader of the Ninth Cave and maybe all of Zelandonii. The story takes a huge leap forward of about 4 years with no real explanation of anything that happened in between. Thats a little odd. I am now at a point where Jonayla is about 4-5 years old and Ayla is on her Donii tour of the sacred sites, mainly painted caves. It is fascinating to read about some of these places and try to picture what they are like. But reading for the sixth time how some animal was drawn on the walls of a cave is becoming tiresome.

So far, there have been few incidents to comment on and no real undertones of how dangerous life was then. It’s slowly developed into the daily diary of incidents that are not that exciting to read about.

I only hope that this book improves and when I finish it I can say with satisfaction that I enjoyed the ending of this saga that stretches back to 1980 when the first book, Clan of the Cave Bear was written. I just have a feeling that this series is just fading out slowly instead of going out with a bang. The next 300 pages will see if I am right or wrong on that. I seriously hope I am wrong.



Bit the Bullet


I had forgotten. How could I forget? I have only been waiting 3,4 maybe 5 years for this momentous of occasions, so how could I forget?

I hang my head in shame and feel desolate that I could forget. Its unforgivable really.

The journey started for me in the summer of 1988. Yes, that long ago and finally, at last, the journey is now complete and I feel a kind of elation that something  I had begun to doubt would ever reach completion suddenly came upon me and I had forgotten all about it.

Ok, I shall put you out of your misery and tell just what the hell it is that I have missed and how a simple little e mail saved the day.

I forgot that today was the release date of this saga. I have waited and searched for so long to find out what was happening to the Earth’s Children series and when the day arrived, I went and forgot it. But tothe credit of Amazon, bless them, they sent me an e mail about an hour ago and there, in all its glory was The Land of Painted Caves, by none other than Jean M Auel and I went right ahead and ordered it, complete with free shipping and it should arrive in the next few days. I cant wait. I have not anticipated something, anything, this much in a long time and I almost, almost missed the boat.

When it arrives, if you dont see or hear anything of me for a couple of days, you will know why. Canada, 1988 is where it all started and now its going to finally end in North East England and book 6 will be read, cover to cover sometime over the next 7 days and I can sit back and relax at a job well done.

Thankyou Miss Jean M Auel, thankyou kind people at Amazon, soon, it will all be over, the story complete and the fate of my all time favourite character, Ayla will finally be known. In preparation, last week I re-read book 5 of the series just to reaquaint myself with Ayla and Jondolar again after what has seemed a very very long break.

If you think it sad that a 4o something grandad could like a series like this, rmember I was a bored 23 yr old when it all started. If you have never read any of the 5 previous books, you dont know what you are missing and I suggest you go and buy/rent/steal Clan of the Cave Bear now! Yes, now, not tomorrow, now, go on, go! do it, my money is on you not regretting it.