The Land of Painted Caves (Earth's Children #6)

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Overview

The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children® series, THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors.
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The Land of Painted Caves (Earth's Children #6)

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Overview

The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children® series, THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors.
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  • The Land of Painted Caves
    The Land of Painted Caves  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In 1980, Jean Auel began her Earth's Children series with her novel The Clan of the Cave Bear. Now, more than 30 years and 45 million copies later, she brings this six-volume Ice Age epic to a reassuring conclusion with The Land of Painted Caves. In this evocative, carefully researched fiction, Cro-Magnon shaman Ayla and her heroic mate Jondalar struggle with environmental upheavals, and threats from wild animals and hostile hunters. Transcending difficulties, this loving, loyal couple find peace and respite in unexpected places and move resolutely towards a more secure future. (P.S. There is good reason why this novel is so eagerly anticipated: The Land of Painted Cave is the first Earth's Children installment in nine years.)

Publishers Weekly
Thirty thousand years in the making and 31 years in the writing, Auel's overlong and underplotted sixth and final volume in the Earth's Children series (The Clan of the Cave Bear; etc.) finds Cro-Magnon Ayla; her mate, Jondalar; and their infant daughter, Jonayla, settling in with the clan of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonaii. Animal whisperer and medicine woman Ayla is an acolyte in training to become a full-fledged Zelandoni (shaman) of the clan, but all is not rosy in this Ice Age setting; there are wild animals to face and earthquakes to survive, as well as a hunter named Balderan, who has targeted Ayla for death, and a potential cave-wrecker named Marona. While gazing on an elaborate cave painting (presumably, the Lascaux caverns in France), Ayla has an epiphany and invents the concept of art appreciation, and after she overdoses on a hallucinogenic root, Ayla and Jondalar come to understand how much they mean to one another, thus giving birth to another concept—monogamy. Otherwise, not much of dramatic interest happens, and Ayla, for all her superwomanish ways, remains unfortunately flat. Nevertheless, readers who enjoyed the previous volumes will relish the opportunity to re-enter pre-history one last time. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Auel's prehistoric series debuted to rave reviews and a movie deal in 1980 with The Clan of the Cave Bear. Nine years after The Shelters of Stone, the final book will be released accompanied by a massive promotional blitz (including academic and library marketing). Ayla is the mate of Jondalar, the mother of Jonayla, their infant daughter, and an acolyte of the First of the Zelandonii, the spiritual leaders of the caves of her husband's people. But all is not well with Ayla. She is separated from her husband and daughter while training for her new position, which takes a terrible physical toll on her health, and her innovative ideas and unusual history create conflict among the people. Long, well-researched, sometimes repetitive descriptions of cave paintings, food gathering, hunting, family relationships, and religion will appeal to those with an interest in prehistory. Others may wish there was a bit more story and a bit less anthropology. VERDICT Though one must occasionally suspend disbelief that one young woman, no matter how intelligent, can really be responsible for introducing concepts such as animal husbandry, sign language, and the role of men in sexuality and conception, the book is compelling and will be in high demand by Auel's fans.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK
From the Publisher

“Among modern epic spinners, [Jean M.] Auel has few peers. . . . She deftly creates a whole world, giving a sense of the origins of class, ethnic, and cultural differences that alternately divide and fascinate us today.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“[Ayla] remains plucky, inquisitive, inventive, brave, loyal. . . . There is real sweetness in the saga’s finale, when Ayla’s legacy to the world—both hers and ours—is made clear.”—The Washington Post
 
“[Auel builds] her characters up to legendary proportions throughout The Land of Painted Caves. . . . [Ayla’s] journey has engrossed fans and turned the series into a bestselling phenomenon.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Prehistory comes to astounding life. . . . [Jean M.] Auel’s descriptive powers are top-notch.”—USA Today

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517580516
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Series: Earth's Children Series , #6
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 85,871
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean M. Auel

Jean M. Auel is an international phenomenon. Her books have sold over 45 million copies worldwide. Her extensive research has earned her the respect of archaeologists and anthropologists around the world and she has honorary degrees from four universities and colleges. She lives with her husband, Ray, in Oregon.

Biography

Born in Chicago in 1936, Jean Marie Untinen married Ray Bernard Auel after high school, raised five children, and attended college at night while working for an electronics firm in Portland, Oregon. Shortly after earning her MBA in 1976, she was inspired by a story idea so powerful it effectively consumed her for the next few years. In a single creative burst, she conceived a sweeping epic set in prehistoric Europe and featuring a unique heroine: a young Cro-Magnon woman named Ayla, raised as a misfit in a society of inhospitable Neandertals. Auel quit her job, immersed herself in research, and began writing nearly nonstop.

At first, Auel imagined she had the makings of a single book. But when she completed her first draft (more than 450,000 words!), she realized that the story fell naturally into six parts, each one demanding a novel all its own. She worked feverishly on the first installment, revising parts of it as many as 20 and 30 times. Published in 1980, The Clan of the Cave Bear became an instant bestseller, marking the start of the thrilling, totally original Ice Age saga, Earth's Children.

The series owes much of its appeal to Auel's feminist protagonist Ayla, a preternaturally resourceful woman with all the skills and abilities of men but without their warlike qualities. She is the first to ride a horse, tame a wolf, and make fire from flint; she understands the healing power of herbs; and, as the novels progress, she develops mystical, even shamanic powers. Readers were understandably intrigued.

Although Auel writes speculative fiction, she receives high marks for historical accuracy. In the interest of creating an authentic Ice Age setting, her research has led her in interesting, unpredictable directions. She has read extensively, traveled to archeological sites around the world, and learned through various sources how to knapp flint, tan hides, construct snow caves, and prepare medicinal herbs. What emerges in her writing is a precise evocation of time and place that provides a realistic and enthralling backdrop to Ayla's adventures.

Good To Know

Jean's last name is pronounced like "owl."

Before becoming a bestselling novelist, Jean worked as a clerk, a circuit board designer, a credit manager, and a technical writer.

Jean's extensive research into Ice Age Europe has taken her to prehistoric sites in France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Germany.

When Jean first gazed at the Paleolithic paintings on the walls of Altamira's caves, she was so moved she began to cry.

Jean's advice to aspiring writers of historical fiction: "Write what you love to learn about."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jean Marie Untinen Auel (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Portland, Oregon
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      M.B.A., University of Portland, 1976
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1

The band of travelers walked along the path between the clear sparkling water of Grass River and the ­black-­streaked white limestone cliff, following the trail that paralleled the right bank. They went single file around the bend where the stone wall jutted out closer to the water’s edge. Ahead a smaller path split off at an angle ­toward the crossing place, where the flowing water spread out and became shallower, bubbling around exposed rocks.

Before they reached the fork in the trail a young woman near the front suddenly stopped, her eyes opening wide as she stood perfectly still, staring ahead. She pointed with her chin, not wanting to move. “Look! Over there!” she said in a hissing whisper of fear. “Lions!”

Joharran, the leader, lifted his arm, signaling the band to a halt. Just beyond the place where the trail diverged, they now saw ­pale-­tawny cave lions moving around in the grass. The grass was such effective camouflage, however, that they might not have noticed them until they were much closer, if it ­hadn’t been for the sharp eyes of Thefona. The young woman from the Third Cave had exceptionally good vision, and though she was quite young, she was noted for her ability to see far and well. Her innate talent had been recognized early and they had begun training her when she was a small girl; she was their best lookout.

Near the back of the group, walking in front of three horses, Ayla and Jondalar looked up to see what was causing the delay. “I wonder why we’ve stopped,” Jondalar said, a familiar frown of worry wrinkling his forehead.

Ayla observed the leader and the people around him closely, and instinctively moved her hand to shield the warm bundle that she carried in the soft leather blanket tied to her chest. Jonayla had recently nursed and was sleeping, but moved slightly at her mother’s touch. Ayla had an uncanny ability to interpret meaning from body language, learned young when she lived with the Clan. She knew Joharran was alarmed and Thefona was frightened.

Ayla, too, had extraordinarily sharp vision. She could also pick up sounds above the range of normal hearing and feel the deep tones of those that were below. Her sense of smell and taste were also keen, but she had never compared herself with anyone, and ­didn’t realize how extraordinary her perceptions were. She was born with heightened acuity in all her senses, which no doubt contributed to her survival after losing her parents and everything she knew at five years. Her only training had come from herself. She had developed her natural abilities during the years she studied animals, chiefly carnivores, when she was teaching herself to hunt.

In the stillness, she discerned the faint but familiar rumblings of lions, detected their distinctive scent on a slight breeze, and noticed that several people in front of the group were gazing ahead. When she looked, she saw something move. Suddenly the cats hidden by the grass seemed to jump into clear focus. She could make out two young and three or four adult cave lions. As she started moving forward, she reached with one hand for her ­spear-­thrower, fastened to a carrying loop on her belt, and with the other for a spear from the holder hanging on her back.

“Where are you going?” Jondalar asked.

She stopped. “There are lions up ahead just beyond the split in the trail,” she said under her breath.

Jondalar turned to look, and noticed movement that he interpreted as lions now that he knew what to look for. He reached for his weapons as well. “You should stay here with Jonayla. I’ll go.”

Ayla glanced down at her sleeping baby, then looked up at him. “You’re good with the ­spear-­thrower, Jondalar, but there are at least two cubs and three grown lions, probably more. If the lions think the cubs are in danger and decide to attack, you’ll need help, someone to back you up, and you know I’m better than anyone, except you.”

His brow furrowed again as he paused to think, looking at her. Then he nodded. “All right . . . but stay behind me.” He detected movement out of the corner of his eye and glanced back. “What about the horses?”

“They know lions are near. Look at them,” Ayla said.

Jondalar looked. All three horses, including the new young filly, were staring ahead, obviously aware of the huge felines. Jondalar frowned again. “Will they be all right? Especially little Gray?”

“They know to stay out of the way of those lions, but I don’t see Wolf,” Ayla said. “I’d better whistle for him.”

“You don’t have to,” Jondalar said, pointing in a different direction. “He must sense something, too. Look at him coming.”

Ayla turned and saw a wolf racing ­toward her. The canine was a magnificent animal, larger than most, but an injury from a fight with other wolves that left him with a bent ear gave him a rakish look. She made the special signal that she used when they hunted together. He knew it meant to stay near and pay close attention to her. They ducked around people as they hurried ­toward the front, trying not to cause any undo commotion, and to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Joharran said softly when he saw his brother and Ayla with the wolf quietly appear with their ­spear-­throwers in hand.

“Do you know how many there are?” Ayla asked.

“More than I thought,” Thefona said, trying to seem calm and not let her fear show. “When I first saw them, I thought there were maybe three or four, but they are moving around in the grass, and now I think there may be ten or more. It’s a big pride.”

“And they are feeling confident,” Joharran said.

“How do you know that?” Thefona asked.

“They’re ignoring us.”

Jondalar knew his mate was very familiar with the huge felines. “Ayla knows cave lions,” he said. “Perhaps we should ask her what she thinks.” Joharran nodded in her direction, asking the question silently.

“Joharran is right. They know we’re here. And they know how many they are and how many we are,” Ayla said, then added, “They may see us as something like a herd of horses or aurochs and think they may be able to single out a weak one. I think they are new to this region.”

“What makes you think so?” Joharran said. He was always surprised at Ayla’s wealth of knowledge of ­four-­legged hunters, but for some reason it was also at times like this that he noticed her unusual accent more.

“They don’t know us, that’s why they’re so confident,” Ayla continued. “If they were a resident pride that lived around people and had been chased or hunted a few times, I don’t think they would be so unconcerned.”

“Well, maybe we should give them something to be concerned about,” Jondalar said.

Joharran’s brow wrinkled in a way that was so much like his taller though younger brother’s, it made Ayla want to smile, but it usually showed at a time when smiling would be inappropriate. “Perhaps it would be wiser just to avoid them,” the ­dark-­haired leader said.

“I don’t think so,” Ayla said, bowing her head and looking down. It was still difficult for her to disagree with a man in public, especially a leader. Though she knew it was perfectly acceptable among the Zelandonii—after all, some leaders were women, including, at one time, Joharran and Jondalar’s mother—such behavior from a woman would not have been tolerated in the Clan, the ones who raised her.

“Why not?” Joharran asked, his frown turning into a scowl.

“Those lions are resting too close to the home of the Third Cave,” Ayla said quietly. “There will always be lions around, but if they are comfortable here, they might think of it as a place to return when they want to rest, and would see any people who come near as prey, especially children or elders. They could be a danger to the people who live at Two Rivers Rock, and the other nearby Caves, including the Ninth.”

Joharran took a deep breath, then looked at his ­fair-­haired brother. “Your mate is right, and you as well, Jondalar. Perhaps now is the time to let those lions know they are not welcome to settle down so close to our homes.”

“This would be a good time to use ­spear-­throwers so we can hunt from a safer distance. Several hunters here have been practicing,” Jondalar said. It was for just this sort of thing that he had wanted to come home and show everyone the weapon he had developed. “We may not even have to kill one, just injure a couple to teach them to stay away.”

“Jondalar,” Ayla said, softly. Now she was getting ready to differ with him, or at least to make a point that he should consider. She looked down again, then raised her eyes and looked directly at him. She ­wasn’t afraid to speak her mind to him, but she wanted to be respectful. “It’s true that a ­spear-­thrower is a very good weapon. With it, a spear can be thrown from a much greater distance than one thrown by hand, and that makes it safer. But safer is not safe. A wounded animal is unpredictable. And one with the strength and speed of a cave lion, hurt and wild with pain, could do anything. If you decide to use these weapons against those lions, they should not be used to injure, but to kill.”

“She’s right, Jondalar,” Joharran said.

Jondalar frowned at his brother, then grinned sheepishly. “Yes she is, but, as dangerous as they are, I always hate to kill a cave lion if I don’t have to. They are so beautiful, so lithe and graceful in the way they move. Cave lions don’t have much to be afraid of. Their strength gives them confidence.” He glanced at Ayla with a glint of pride and love. “I always thought Ayla’s Cave Lion totem was right for her.” Discomfited by showing his strong inner feelings for her, a hint of a flush colored his cheeks. “But I do think this is a time when ­spear-­throwers could be very useful.”

Joharran noticed that most of the travelers had crowded closer. “How many are with us that can use one?” he asked his brother.

“Well, there’s you, and me, and Ayla, of course,” Jondalar said, looking at the group. “Rushemar has been practicing a lot and is getting pretty good. Solaban’s been busy making some ivory handles for tools for some of us and hasn’t been working at it as much, but he’s got the basics.”

“I’ve tried a ­spear-­thrower a few times, Joharran. I don’t have one of my own, and I’m not very good at it,” Thefona said, “but I can throw a spear without one.”

“Thank you, Thefona, for reminding me,” Joharran said. “Nearly everyone can handle a spear without a ­spear-­thrower, including women. We ­shouldn’t forget that.” Then he directed his comments to the group at large. “We need to let those lions know that this is not a good place for them. Whoever wants to go after them, using a spear by hand or with the thrower, come over here.”

Ayla started to loosen her baby’s carrying blanket. “Folara, would you watch Jonayla for me?” she said, approaching Jondalar’s younger sister, “unless you’d rather stay and hunt cave lions.”

“I’ve gone out on drives, but I never was very good with a spear, and I don’t seem to be much better with the thrower,” Folara said. “I’ll take Jonayla.” The infant was now thoroughly awake, and when the young woman held out her arms for the baby, she willingly went to her aunt.

“I’ll help her,” Proleva said to Ayla. Joharran’s mate also had a baby girl in a carrying blanket, just a few days older than Jonayla, and an active boy who could count six years to watch out for as well. “I think we should take all the children away from here, perhaps back behind the jutting rock, or up to the Third Cave.”

“That’s a very good idea,” Joharran said. “Hunters stay here. The rest of you go back, but go slowly. No sudden moves. We want those cave lions to think we are just milling around, like a herd of aurochs. And when we pair off, each group keep together. They will probably go after anyone alone.”

Ayla turned back ­toward the ­four-­legged hunters and saw many lion faces looking in their direction, very alert. She watched the animals move around, and began to see some distinguishing characteristics, helping her to count them. She watched a big female casually turn around—no, a male, she realized when she saw his male parts from the backside. She’d forgotten for a moment that the males here ­didn’t have manes. The male cave lions near her valley to the east, including one that she knew quite well, did have some hair around the head and neck, but it was sparse. This is a big pride, she thought, more than two handsful of counting words, possibly as many as three, including the young ones.

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 1653 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1667 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Good but Lacks Focus

    I was fortunate enough to luck into an uncorrected proof, and I eagerly started reading. At the time, I didn't realize I could've virtually skimmed the first 300 pages and been none the worse to understand the story. The tale starts with our dear Ayla and Jondalar sharing the lives of the other Zelandonii with their daughter, Jonayla. Since Ayla is in training, the First plans a tour for her. They visit a local painted cave, Ayla and the others admire the artwork. They wonder what the animals, dots and handprints mean. Lather, rinse, repeat. I lost count of the number of caves Ayla and Co. visit during her tour. At many junctures, she asks what the art means. Nobody gives her a coherent answer, not even the artist Jonokol, who stops in one cave to create his own vision on the walls. By this time, I began to skim. The story doesn't really take off again until Part III, by which time Jonayla is six years old. No spoilers -- but had the first 2/3 of the book undergone better editing (maybe a cave or two, but so many? and what was the POINT?), the tale would basically have begun here. Many threads from the prior books would come together, though some did not. I have no issue with this -- it's like life. But the book would have done better at 400 pages than 755. My opinion, and I've loved the previous books. This one would've been really terrific, had it not lost focus on story.

    92 out of 94 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2011

    So disappointed . . .

    I have been an avid fan of this series since I was in high school and I was thrilled when this book came out. Until I got halfway through it and realized it was the most boring, mishmash of stupid plot devices known to man. Was there any purpose to the "Donier Tour"? Did the Mother's song really need to be in the book six times in it's entirety? The only true plot development occurred in the last third of the book and it felt like an afterthought stuck on to appease people. I don't think that this book adequately finished the series and I'm disappointed that this is the way it has ended for the series.

    75 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Long and Repetitive

    This book should only be read by Ayla fans. Hallelujah this is billed as the last book of the series.

    The author takes a long and tedious road to tell us about Ayla finally becoming the woman she was meant to be. The story could have been told in 200 pages rather than 700. There is a lot of repetition from the previous books. But there is more than a fair share of repetition of scenes in the latest book. After all, once I've read about the "absorbsent pads" Ayla uses on her new baby, I don't need to read it ten more times.

    Savvy readers will have figured out Ayla's destiny by the time they finally labor their way to the middle of the book. There are the usual love triangles that are just as obvious. In this reader's opinion, this is middle school writing. I'm glad it's the last of the series as I don't think I could bring myself to read another.

    If you have read the other 5 books and have a need to complete the story, then go ahead. Oh...and don't let the thicknness of the book fool you. Most of you will read it quickly because, like me, you will find yourself skimming through page after page of fauna/flora descriptions and mind-numbing repetition of the countless introductions of the "woman who rules horses and the four-legged hunter called Wolf".

    57 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hope she got her soul back...

    When I read Clan of the Cave Bear in 1985, I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read-loved it and couldn't wait to read the next one. Valley of Horses, if possible was better. I was were ever to be stranded in the wilderness, I felt I could live off the land, pick berries and dig a pit!! It was a great read. Mammoth Hunters-at first I wasn't too crazy about it-became more of a romance novel, and Plains of Passage...well I know more about grass, soil and mammoth mating practices than I need too. But, still, it was a good book, and was still re-reading all of them, everytime a new one was coming out. Then, came the big one, the anticipated Great Book! What a huge disappointment. 750 pages of...soap opera. And only one year?? THe first time I read it, I actually though that Ms. Auel didn't write the book; it was just too childish and the style was wrong. Then, after re-reading it, came to the conclusion that she had, but was just getting bored with Ayla, and was filling pages to fill a contract. She is contracted for only 6 books, so Painted Caves will be the finale. How can she fit the rest of Ayla's life into just one more book? I'm just thankful that she gave us Ayla as she was in the first 4 books-it will leave me with my own image of how she lived the rest of her life.

    39 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2010

    Hope it's better than last installment

    I will not be rushing to immediately purchase this book. After the total disappointment of Shelters of Stone, I refuse to purchase until I can be sure it's not a repetition of books one through 5 with a bit of something thrown in all wrapped up in 700 plus pages. Like other fans of the Earth Children's series, I waited 12 years for SoS only to find a book that was basically made up of complete pages of the other books. There may have been 250 pages of new text in a 700 plus page book. This time I wait a few months then I'll decide whether or not to download onto my nook.

    37 out of 68 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    sadly disappointing.

    I was really looking forward to this book I had read the series over again as soon as I found out number 6 was being released. This series has been 30 years in the making and I loved them so much. Maybe that was reason enough not to get too excited about this one, maybe there was no way it could live up to my expectations. This wasn't a bad book and since this was an advance copy maybe the editors will fix some of the things that weren't really right with it and make it more enjoyable. The main thing is that nothing really ever happens. The advance copy was a 757 pages long trade paper and NOTHING all that exciting happened in all those pages. It was too many repeats of things already covered in the other books. The titles repeated again and again, the tea preparations, the Mothers song, another bunch of renegade men for Ayla to deal with. At least Jondalar does something unexpected but it wasn't a good thing and it made me not like him any more and it ruined that for me. The beginning starts out with Ayla still an acolyte, training to be a Zelandoni (a shaman or medicine woman) they go on a tour of sacred cave sites to see the paintings put there by the ancients. They go from cave to cave, page after page and talk about the different paintings and what they think they all mean. This takes up a good half of the book. Very little happens through the whole thing, in places it was like she thought about writing something and you thought ok something is going to happen now but then she would just stop where she was going and start in about tea or introductions, or how "pleasures" really do make babies. I would liked to have seen less repetition and less about her having to make water and using the night basket, her moon cycles, Wolf taking a dump in the caves, and about her holding her daughter up to make water, it was all WAY unnecessary. I would loved to have read more about them trying to start trade meetings with the clan with Ayla using their sign language, finding and raising more horses and showing other people how to train them. I also thought there should have been more about their daughter Jonayla, she's there, but her character just isn't explored enough for you to really get to know her. All in all, if you've read the whole series so far you'll want to read this one just to finish the story but don't be expecting anything much to happen, or for this to be a big wonderful finish. Now I wish she had just finished it with Plains of Passage or Shelter of Stones. If I ever read them again that's where I'm stopping.

    35 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2011

    Snore, snore, snore...oh FINALLY something happens!

    I was hugely disappointed in this book overall. As a huge "Clan Series" fan, I was thrilled to see this book finally hit the shelves, only to be bored to death by the first 400-500 pages or so. The entire first two-thirds of the book can simply be ignored, because the real "meat" doesn't happen until the last few hundred pages (reading it on a Nook makes it difficult to determine the exact page content). While I generally love Auel's descriptive style, I believe the entire donier cave tour (which was fully 2/3s of the book) was simply a waste of her time and mine. Little of it had relevance to who Ayla is or was to become. While the last third of the book was better, there were no surprises, and old story lines seemed to have been re-hashed. That being said, I still loved the story once things began to "happen" again. The ending was ambiguous at best, and left the field wide open for another sequel. I would love to see another book in the series that holds true to the older titles...with things actually happening throughout the story and, finally, an absolute ending. Characters who have been largely ignored or forgotten need a new voice...especially that of Jonayla, who it seems is the new hope of the Zeladonii, though she is largely ignored for the most part. The future of the Cave and its people need a definitive bridge to our current world. And the voice of Ayla needs to find her true power in her new life and span the bridge between her world and ours. One more and much better, please, Ms. Auel!

    25 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    what happened?

    Is this the same person who wrote 'Clan of the Cave Bear?' This author has to be an impostor writing under the name Auel. I say 'has to be' because i find it impossible to believe that Jean Auel would allow such a travesty to happen. If in fact Auel did write this novel, she must have been under duress of some kind. A gun to the head? Debilitating illness? Lobotomy? Financial strain? Did a real life Ayla run off with her man? What happened? Does Jean hate us or what? How many times do we need to hear about what was eaten, how it was eaten, who ate it, where the food came from, and what kind of dish they ate it in? I get that they're big tea drinkers and there's lots and lots of caves, with lots and lots of animals drawn in them. I just don't think 700 pages were needed to establish that. It pains me deeply to say this, but this book rambles like your grandpa talking about the war.

    20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Beyond disappointing, I actually got mad reading it...

    My father introduced me to the Earth's Children series when I was in middle school, and I LOVED it: the writing, the characters, the way the book was able to transport me directly into the series. Sadly my father passed away before Shelters of Stone was published, but I remember with great fondness the excitement we both felt when Plains of Passage was issued. So obviously, I have strong sentimental ties to this last book, beyond enjoying a fantastic story. *POTENTIAL SPOILERS* Admittedly, I read it on my Nook, which changes the experience from a traditional book, but even taking that into consideration, there didn't seem to be any flow to the story. It takes place in 3 parts, but the 3 don't tie together well AT ALL. As others have mentioned, the second part of the book is the Donier Tour, and the only point I think Jean was trying to make was how much research she did on the caves in the area. New characters were introduced, and then dropped rather quickly, without the full character development we got in the first few books of the series. It was, "here's a new cave, here's new people, moving on now..." While I found the endless repetition of the previous books boring, I knew enough to skim through those sections. It was the last third of the book that really irritated me (no other word for it). A major character all of a sudden acts in a way that is completely inconsistent with the other books in the series, and it was done abruptly and I felt cheated of the wonderful story/character development that had been going on through out the series. As others have mentioned there were several plotlines that were hinted at, then left hanging at the end. I know Jean said this was the last book in the series, but it seemed like a deliberate attempt to set up another book. If it wasn't, than I think it was a horrible way to end a series that so many people loved for so long. There were many potential storylines that could have been used (interaction with the local Clan, reconnecting with her son/old Clan, etc.), which would have been better than what she actually published. My recommendation, if you have been a fan of the series you may need to read the book to give yourself the conclusion you have been waiting for, but it may leave you sadly disappointed.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    Disapointing

    After awaiting the final book in this series for several years to come out I must say it was disappointing. 700+ pages of rehashing old stories from the other books and a tour of the painted caves that really explained nothing. And the only thing learned was knowledge of how children are conceived?

    Auel waited too long to write this book and semed to forget what made these books a good read. Ayla's adventures along with Jondular. What about her son Durc and the Clan? What about the Others and Clan members interaction? THeres was whole lot I think she could have written about to complete the story of Ayla.

    Sorry I was sadly disapointed. :(

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    So dissappointing

    I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I am 300 pages in and don't think I can finish it. It is so boring and repetative.

    I absolutely loved the rest of the series and just find this book so lacking in everything that makes the others so great. It's like another person wrote this one using notecards from the old books.

    If zero stars was an option, I would have chosen that.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The unfortunate result of wild success

    The problem with the latter volumes of the Earth's Children novels is the same we've seen with other series that start out with a bang and then wander off. Anne Rice's Vampires, Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta mysteries and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander spring to mind. The problem is they may not have started as series. The author, talented as she may be, did not start out to create a multi-volume saga, but one great book. But what happens when the book becomes a phenomenon? Suddenly fans, publishers, booksellers, agents and your mom are pestering you day and night, "WHEN's the next one!!??" The author may wonder, dismayed, "WHAT next one?" Then she goes back to her desk and pulls together those ideas that had to be cut from the first one and writes a second book. A good writer can sustain this for a while, til all the juice has been squeezed from the initial (admittedly great) idea. But by this time the fans are even more numerous, the money even bigger, your mom even prouder, your agent greedier. And they all demand "WHERE'S THE NEXT ONE!!?? The amount of time between books grows longer as the author struggles to meet the expectations of hysterically devoted fans. So cut poor Jean Auel a break. The Land of Painted Caves is probably a book she never intended when she wrote the outstanding Clan of the Cave Bear so many years ago.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Disappointing and dull

    After waiting 9 years or so for this final (?) installment in the series, I was sadly disappointed. There were warning signs...some of Auel's previous books were bogged down in needless and repetitive retellings of events that her readers were already totally familiar with (and I'm looking at you, "Plains of Passage"); but Land of Painted Caves takes it down to a whole new level.
    By page 450 or so I actually found myself skimming the pages, skipping past endless descriptions of one cave after another, one plant's medicinal and culinary properties after another, one rendition of The Mother's Song after another and God only knows how many of Ayla's flashbacks to her experience with the Clan Mogurs and their scary ceremony (we get it, she was scared. move on).
    Readers of Auel's books have come to love her strong characters-this book weakens and flattens them into voices for anthropological theories with no real motivations or feelings of their own. The have become Ayn Rand characters, simple vehicles for theories and statements. Ayla's continuing development into modern human's intelligent Eve is the driving plot line and rather than interesting and enlightening it becomes tedious and worn out.
    I have nothing but admiration for Auel's exhaustive research and even her theories, but I was looking forward to a good story about great characters and a strong resolution. Instead, I'm filing this in the "done and over" section and moving on.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Everyone has a different opinion

    I read Clan of the cavebear for the first time when I was about 10 years old. In my honest opinion, it is one of the best series I have ever read in my entire life. I understand and see where other readers are coming from when they say that shelters of stone and maybe even some of the others were kind of repetitious. I do not argue the fact that there was a lot of the same stuff from the first few books, but I sincerely enjoyed all of them, and the repetitious stuff wasnt always used in the same context or situation as the last book. For those of you who caught it, you should be proud, not everyone is sharp enough to see that they've already read it. Personally, i enjoy reading about how she did stuff becuz it makes it more real to me. I enjoy finding out what Ayla is up to, who she meets, what challenges she faces and most of all, I want to find out what happens to her in the future. I realize that many people have different opinions, different tastes and their reaction to this series will be different than everyone elses but I think this book should be given a chance. I cant wait for it to come out.

    8 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2010

    It's been too long a wait!

    I don't care if the descriptions are time consuming to read through i LOVE the story.

    8 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A beautiful series!! With only one flaw...

    I first picked up The Clan of the Cave Bear 23 years ago at 12 years old. I fell in love with the strength of the characters, escpecially Ayla, and the beautiful, meticulous setting of prehistoric time. I've read the books several times during the many intervening years with only the dreadful The Shelters of Stone being the new novel in the 20 years since The Plains of Passage. The first 4 novels are truly works of art that any dedicated reader should have in their library and I sincerely hope that this final novel recaptures that magic. I can't help but wonder if the span of so many years left the author adrift on who her characters were and where their story was heading in The Shelters of Stone. The quick bio of this novel is headed exactly in the obvious direction that the last 100 pages hinted at in the previous novel and that does cause me some concern. I love this series so I'm willing to lay faith in Ms. Auel's capable hands that The Shelters of Stone was an abberation of story-telling that was buried under the astounding and impressive research of the prehistoric world. I will purchase this novel immediately and not wait several months to see how the reviews pan out. I owe this author that much for the beauty and majesty of her first 4 novels of Earth's Children.

    8 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    BEATS the BEST OF THE BEST!!

    I have been waiting patiently for book six and now I can mark on my calendar for the release date. Time to re-read all five books again!! I can never get tired of them!!

    7 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    If you thought Shelters of Stone was bad, you haven't read bad yet.

    This is a two part book. The first two parts are utterly devoid of anything called plot or conflict. Repetitive descriptions of cave after cave and meeting characters you don't care about and are quickly forgotten. Her last book had a cheat sheet in the back to help keep tract of the hundreds of characters with similar names that you were introduced to. Here that is missing. It is incredibly boring.

    In part three the pace picks up but it more like watching a soap opera than reading anything interesting. It involves two incidences of using hallucinigenic plants, some infidelity, and a lot of misunderstandings.
    Most books that I buy I usually re-read several times. This book I will not.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    very disappointed

    over the years ive read and reread this series, always loved it and wished for another book to either continue or wrap it up so i was so excited about this. But sadly i was disappointed too, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs and pages of recapping events from previous books, description after description of cave paintings etc etc...and Ayla and Jon having ANOTHER dramatic fight?? come on, that was done in the Mammoth Hunters and it was as melodramatic then as it is reading about it AGAIN. it felt like the author had run out of ideas or was cashing in on the franchise almost. I enjoyed reading about Aylas promotion and Jonayla, i also enjoyed reading about various events such as the murderer that threatened Ayla and how he was dealt with, the rest just seemed to be borrowed from previous books and was quite frankly - boring :(
    I had hoped to find the author delving into things she had hinted at in previous books, such as the Others trying to trade with the Clan and the complications arising from this, and maybe even Ayla finding her son through this
    It was so very very bland, I do hope there will be another installment that ties up the obvious loose ends and indulges the fans a bit more

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2011

    Publishers Weekly reviewer must be a male under 25 years

    I have been a Jean Auel fan from the outset, have read and re-read her entire series. Her descriptive writing style, depth of characters, and attention to scientific detail is what defines her genre. Not all of us want that fast-paced Dan Brown style where the entire book covers 48 frenetic hours of chase scenes and explosions!

    6 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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