Summary and book reviews of The Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel

The Shelters of Stone

Earth's Children #5

By Jean M. Auel

The Shelters of Stone
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2002,
    720 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2003,
    720 pages.

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Book Summary

The Shelters of Stone opens as Ayla and Jondalar, along with their animal friends, Wolf, Whinney, and Racer, complete their epic journey across Europe and are greeted by Jondalar's people: the Zelandonii. The people of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii fascinate Ayla. Their clothes, customs, artifacts, even their homes—formed in great cliffs of vertical limestone—are a source of wonder to her. And in the woman Zelandoni, the spiritual leader of the Ninth Cave (and the one who initiated Jondalar into the Gift of Pleasure), she meets a fellow healer with whom to share her knowledge and skills.

But as Ayla and Jondalar prepare for the formal mating at the Summer Meeting, there are difficulties. Not all the Zelandonii are welcoming. Some fear Ayla's unfamiliar ways and abhor her relationship with those they call flatheads and she calls Clan. Some even oppose her mating with Jondalar, and make their displeasure known. Ayla has to call on all her skills, intelligence, knowledge, and instincts to find her way in this complicated society, to prepare for the birth of her child, and to decide whether she will accept new challenges and play a significant role in the destiny of the Zelandonii.

Jean Auel is at her very best in this superbly textured creation of a prehistoric society. The Shelters of Stone is a sweeping story of love and danger, with all the wonderful detail—based on meticulous research— that makes her novels unique. It is a triumphant continuation of the Earth's Children® saga that began with The Clan of the Cave Bear. And it includes an amazing rhythmic poem that describes the birth of Earth's Children and plays its own role in the narrative of The Shelters of Stone.

Chapter 1

People were gathering on the limestone ledge, looking down at them warily. No one made a gesture of welcome, and some held spears in positions of readiness if not actual threat. The young woman could almost feel their edgy fear. She watched from the bottom of the path as more people crowded together on the ledge, staring down, many more than she thought there would be. She had seen that reluctance to greet them from other people they had met on their Journey. It's not just them, she told herself, it's always that way in the beginning. But she felt uneasy.

The tall man jumped down from the back of the young stallion. He was neither reluctant nor uneasy, but he hesitated for a moment, holding the stallion's halter rope. He turned around and noticed that she was hanging back. "Ayla, will you hold Racer's rope? He seems nervous," he said, then looked up at the ledge. "I guess they do, too."

She nodded, lifted her leg over, slid down from the mare's back, and took the ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist - Kristine Huntley

Although readers will undoubtedly be cheered by the arrival of the fifth book, it lacks the drive and sense of questing of the previous books, since Ayla and Jondalar have reached their destination. But that won't deter fans of the series, so expect this to be in high demand.

Publishers Weekly

Bursting with hard information about ancient days and awash in steamy sex (though lacking the high suspense that marked Ayla's debut), Auel's latest will not only please her legions of fans but will hit the top of the list, pronto.

Library Journal - Karen T Bilton

Auel's imaginative and well-researched re-creation of Cro-Magnon life holds the story together despite the lack of plot and character development. Readers who hang on until the last hundred pages will be rewarded with new and interesting plot developments, an obvious setup for the next novel in the series.

Kirkus Reviews

Auel shows her riches of research, with suspenseless but readable passages of flora, fauna and landscape..... Auel clearly has one more installment to add to her Ice Age saga. Her fans can swim through this behemoth and hope that the next volume doesn't take 12 years.

Reader Reviews
Jen

Missed the target!
As a huge fan of Clan & Valley, I have to agree with the other reviewers that Mammoth, Plains & Shelters fell short. I have been hooked by the storyline of the first two books. Shelters (and Plains) is like a meal that looks delicious but ...   Read More

JULIE

Shelters of Stone - too long in the preparation
I found this a book a disappointment. It took many years to prepare, and was eagerly awaited by her millions of fans and the research was second to none. BUT, it did not have the suspense nor the excitement of the previous books. There were no real ...   Read More

Katie Gettings

Why???
I have religiously read this series since I was a young girl. The only thing that we can seem to agree on is that the first book was the best. I will read the final book. Just so I can finish this whole thing out. I also had to read the books in ...   Read More

Another Actual Guy

a love-HATE relationship
My experience with this series can be compared to a drug addiction. I don’t like it but I need more. As a young adolescent I traversed the Jack London/Louis L'Amour historical novel landscape. One day I decided to venture into pre-historical ...   Read More

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