Rated of 5
I'd like to thank many of you for your reviews. I thought I was the only one disappointed with the content of some of this series...
I thought Clan of the Cave Bear was amazing and wonderful. It brought me to a very different place, time and people and sucked me in. Most of all, I could feel these people. Both their differences and their similarities to people of today.
So I read the second book, The Valley of Horses. Also, quite cool. How would any of us deal with being isolated and alone for so long? The little details in this book were very real and human- befriending animals and carving a face into snow (remember Wilson in Cast Away?) Then finally meeting someone and not being able to speak, let alone falling in love and getting romantic. Lots more fun in this book, but...
The Mammoth Hunters. Here's where I found I could no longer read through another description of plants or Ayla's and Jondalars sex-capades. Forgive me, but the sex scenes got trite in the second book and didn't improve in this third book. Although, there were more sex scenes, making me wonder if this was deemed necessary in order to sell the book. Last but not least, the long winded 'break up' between Jondalar and Ayla was unbelievable and tedious.
But I had hope, really. My fertile imagination was already imagining all the possibilities for the fourth book. I read one reviewer in this discussion who had some great ideas for the last book. While his story line wouldn't be mine, it was more interesting than what I read in Mammoth Hunters or Plains of Passage.
Plains of Passage is agonizing and boring. We meet various societies, most of which are slight variations of each other. If you cut out the sex scenes, the plants, the repetition, and consolidate the groups of people into one (because that's all you've got, one basic societal frame work) you probably have a 35 page book filled with short adventures. Only two scenes worth keeping in this book: the abduction of Jondalar by the 'evil' women and saved by Ayla (too funny) and their encounter with the Clan couple.
I'm about half way through Shelters of Stone. So far it is a summary of the previous books. Obviously the author thinks I'm an idiot and can't possibly remember anything from the previous books (or within three pages of this book). After 400 pages, filled mainly with repeated introductions of long winded names and the wonders of the great Ayla, the only interesting/ new things could have been written in a 15 page short story. Though I must admit, meeting the love of Jondalar's life (before Ayla) and finding she's the size of a small cow made me giggle. Ayla insisting on wearing boy's long underwear and puberty belt is also rather funny, but is this worth 400 pages?
They say it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings... well, Jondalar's ex-girlfriend did that around page 340 so there's only 543 pages to go. That seems to sum it up.
(I won't be reading the next book unless I hear something good about it... there are too many great books out there to waste time re-reading this same stuff over and over and over and over and over and over....)
Rated of 5
by Maria Magdanel
i just think all her books are sooo interesting, and since i plan to be an archiologist, it's really taught me a lot about those ancient people.
Rated of 5
by Cara Randall
I just finished "Shelters of Stone", and all I can say is it's "pretty good". I am not one of those who really enjoys the continual exhaustive discussion about how every leaf, blade of grass and rock appears in the story, and I frequently start skimming when I arrive at those paragraphs. It also irritated me how I had to hear a retelling of the same discoveries made by Jondalar and Ayla OVER AND OVER within the same book, each time they met a new people (for example) we had to hear once again of how she met the animals, how she tamed them, and how they learned to make fire. While I'm sure that would be necessary to retell in real life when new people were met, I don't think it really added to the interest of the book to go over it so many times in detail.
The book is fun because of the background tension between Zelandoni Who Is First and Ayla, and her struggle to not become part of the mystical group of magicians/healers/spiritualists called the Doniers (Zelandoni). Waiting for Ayla's child to come, and reading about how Jondalar's people learn to accept her is very interesting. But endless discussion of fire rocks, spear throwers and other discoveries made on Ayla's and Jondalar's journey were tedious. In fact, considering that Ayla is just one of thousands of Others with interesting talents and learning abilities, it gets a bit far-fetched for me to swallow that Ayla has invented and created virtually every worthwhile discovery made by the Cro Magnon people. Ever notice that? She discovered how to make fire with stones, make a spear thrower, tame animals, stitch people together who have serious injury, and has guessed the true origin of babies is not from "mixing spirits, but from sex. In fact, pretty much anything that Ayla does she does perfectly, except sing. It does get old because of its predictability, and eventually when I was reading about the latest discovery attributed to Ayla that was done perfectly and would be passed down in story and legend, la la la, I started saying to myself, "Of course! She's Ayla...everything she does is perfect." and I didn't say it happily. It got on my nerves. She even started the tradition of wearing white to a wedding...naturally. A little of that goes a long way.
When I was ten years younger and reading this series, it was easier to believe in all of Ayla's perfections. Now, ten years later and three children of my own, I know life just isn't that smooth. Ayla does everything the best, knows what people are thinking, can "sense" what they really mean just by looking at their posture and the way they make unconscious gestures, has a perfect husband who loves her completely (in that unrealistic "romance-novel" kind of way that we all know is pretty much a farce in the real world)-even sexually they are perfect together, and of course she is so talented and wonderful that the Doniers consider her to be "too dangerous" not to have in their control. If Ayla was just a bit more "average cavewoman" it would be easier for me to relate to her character.
But I did like learning what happened after they reached the Zelandonii, and the way other people got accustomed to her. I do like the threatening undercurrent going on from some of the other characters who don't like Ayla for one reason or another. That was a nice touch and will make reading the next book very interesting. The ending was just awful, however. It didn't leave a person feeling at all satisfied, it left me a little upset. It seemed as if the author just decided to stop writing, almost in the middle of a conversation. I know the purpose was probably to leave me wanting more, and I will read the next book, but I would have anyway. That was a poorly-written way to try to get that to happen. The only reason I will read the last book is to finish out the story I have waited so long to see the ending of. "Clan of the Cave Bear" is one of my favorite books and favorite movies. It started out as brilliant and is ending up interesting, at best, overdone at worst. Instead of being a somewhat talented, struggling, downtrodden-but-victorious-heroine, she's becoming too perfect, almost some kind of deity herself. And the pages in "Shelters of Stone" of how the environment looked as Ayla and Jondalar wander about the area are just painful after awhile. But I will wade through the last book to pick out the good bits and finally find out what happens, because at its heart the Earth's Children's Series concept is brilliant, and will carry you through even the writing and plot difficulties.
Rated of 5
by AN ACTUAL GUY
I am male, yet, after resisting the entire series for years on the basis these were women's books, I picked up the first in a hotel lobby. I got caught up in the characters and I was hooked. I've read all five books in the past two months. I couldn't help but notice that nearly nothing happened in the first 300 pages of Plains of Passage. One felt like they were with A and J traversing the monotonous steppes, etc, and more desperate than they were for them to meet some people. Part of what held the interest, though, was the odd suspense in waiting to see what might spontaneously develop.
With this new book, Shelters of Stone, we should be getting to the payoff from that long journey. Yet with an introduction to a new society, we again find that almost nothing happens -- except more apparent set up. Somewhere, there is a real story waiting to come out. I'd almost have Ayla hop on the lion again just to see somebody react. Auel needs to let some good ghost writers in on the action. Plot for next book: The flatheads get riled up and open up a can of prehistoric whoop-ass on the Zelandonii. Only Ayla's intervention prevents early disaster, but the Zelandonii, already suspicious of her clan loving proclivities in the tide of rising inter-genus friction, misinterpret her actions in appeasing and communicating with the clan. The conflict erupts violently while cave leaders are together on a special hunting trip. Ayla is there as their medicine woman, sent by Zelandoni in her place because Zelandoni is ill. The conflict erupts in the territory of the 14th cave. Some leaders are killed. Zelandoni of the 14th, already emboldened by Zelandoni's illness and seeking opportunity for herself as her presumptive successor, fosters putting the blame on Ayla, Zelondoni's acolyte. In fact, her interference prevents Ayla from saving more of those attacked -- on both sides of the conflict. Zelondoni Fourteenth is supported by the Fifth and coniving acolyte Madroman, trusted with relaying the events in question to the other Zelandoni. The hunting trip with the leaders was intended to allow them to get to know Ayla and see how invaluable she could be. Ayla herself hoped to build some consensus to allow her to approach the local flatheads to act as ambassador and ease tensions. But Ayla is blamed for the violence. Only Zelandoni's timely intervention, conferred through the spirit world, prevents the local authorities at the 14th cave from imposing sentence of death by exposure. Ayla does not even try to save herself until contacted by Z in the spirit world, under guise of Creb, b/c Ayla blames herself for not saving more of the wounded in the confrontation and/or not preventing it. The interaction also helps restore Zelandoni. But Ayla's activities remain restricted as the conflict deepens. Jondalar is forced to live among the Clan to get back to Ayla, the only hope for his people -- and his efforts brand him as a traitor among his own people -- until he reunites with A and all is dramatically set to right. Meanwhile, Jonayla is left to the care of Lanoga(?), who has to protect the infant from her own parents, who want to use the conflict to rise from their own low status, with the stunning and timely aid of her young lame-arm would-be mate, trained well by Jondalar in use of the spear thrower. In the end, the Zelandonii learn a valuable lesson about what it means to be human and develop a deep understanding for their doomed counterparts of the Clan, who simply cannot adapt. The conflict resolves when the people of the clan, unable to cope with the Zelandoni's interaction in peace any better than in war, strike out on their own to find a niche in the increasingly far between lands untrodden by the Others, or to die in the search -- but only after the Zelondii take part in a ritual giving them access to Clan memories, forever changing those in attendance and ensuring Ayla's own future position as First. [Jean: please fill in 500 pages of repetitive herbal remedy lore, endless flint knapping details and at least 23 sex scenes, and we should have another best seller. -- Thanx, Tim.]
Rated of 5
I was so thrilled that the book came out - I listen to the book on tape during my commute to work. I have listened to all of them on tape. I have to say that I found the research interesting, in fact enough to do a little research on the Web myself. My disapountment is that it became more a text book than fiction - the ending made me want to drive off the road....but...I will listen to the next book...I am not sure that if I were reading it instead of listening I wouldn't have paged ahead -
Rated of 5
After waiting 10 years for this book, I was disappointed that Auel felt she needed to include EVERY piece of information she'd learned in that time in the book. It was more a platform for what Auel learned through her exhaustive research rather than a continuation of Ayla's story. For the first time in this series, I found myself just paging through some of the heavy-handed showing of Auel's knowledge that did nothing to further the story. I hope she doesn't wait another 10 years, however, because --yes--I will read the last book in the series and do not care to 'just page through' any of it.
U.S. ebook sales up in 2012, but rate of growth is slowing(May 16 2013) In 2012, trade book sales (i.e. non academic book sales) rose 6.9%, to $15.049 billion, and e-book sales continued to grow, although the rate of growth...