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The Plains of Passage (Earth's Children #4)

The Plains of Passage (Earth's Children #4)

4.3 314
by Jean M. Auel, Sandra Burr (Read by)

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Jean M. Auel’s enthralling Earth’s Children series has become a literary phenomenon, beloved by readers around the world. In a brilliant novel as vividly authentic and entertaining as those that came before, Jean M. Auel returns us to the earliest days of humankind and to the captivating adventures of the courageous woman called Ayla.



Jean M. Auel’s enthralling Earth’s Children series has become a literary phenomenon, beloved by readers around the world. In a brilliant novel as vividly authentic and entertaining as those that came before, Jean M. Auel returns us to the earliest days of humankind and to the captivating adventures of the courageous woman called Ayla.

With her companion, Jondalar, Ayla sets out on her most dangerous and daring journey--away from the welcoming hearths of the Mammoth Hunters and into the unknown. Their odyssey spans a beautiful but sparsely populated and treacherous continent, the windswept grasslands of Ice Age Europe, casting the pair among strangers. Some will be intrigued by Ayla and Jondalar, with their many innovative skills, including the taming of wild horses and a wolf; others will avoid them, threatened by what they cannot understand; and some will threaten them. But Ayla, with no memory of her own people, and Jondalar, with a hunger to return to his, are impelled by their own deep drives to continue their trek across the spectacular heart of an unmapped world to find that place they can both call home.

Editorial Reviews

Thrilling... This magical book is rich in details of all kinds... but it it the depth of the characters' emotional lives... that gives the novel such a stranglehold.
Los Angeles Times
Pure entertainment at its sublime, wholly exhilarating, best... Auel, a superb raconteur, has crafted a consistently engaging adventure story with a solid historical underpinning.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The long-awaited fourth installment of the Earth's Children series is as warm and inviting as its campfire milieu. sure fire bestseller. Auel again describes her characters' travails, a passionate interest of millions of readers, in impeccably researched detail. The continuous recitation of flora and fauna, coupled with flashbacks to events in the previous books, becomes somewhat tiresome, however. (Would that our ``memory'' were as instinctual as that of the Clan.) The saga continues the cross-continental journey of Ayla, her mate Jondalar and their menagerie to his homeland. En route, they encounter a variety of problems, yet manage to find panaceas for each. Their enlightened compilation of skills, inventions, therapies and recipes transforms the voyagers into spirit-like personas providing The Others with constant awe. A brief encounter with the Neanderthal Clan rekindles the unique charm of the first (and strongest) book. Such locutions as ``out of the cooking skin into the coals'' or ``Mother's path of milk'' for the Milky Way are coyly anachronistic. Nonetheless, this volume is as welcome as letters from a long-lost friend. A novel 1.25 million first printing; major ad/promo; first serial to Ladies' Home Journal; BOMC main selection; author tour. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
YA-- Auel follows the successful formula of the other books in this series--man's emergence from primitivism to civilization. Ayla and Jondalar continue their journey, accompanied by Whinny, Racer, and Wolf, closely observing the terrain and prudently, even inventively, developing ``modern'' techniques to deal with danger and evil. Perhaps most interesting is Ayla's triumph over the matriarchal despot Attaroa; the reverberating echoes of the women's movement's attendant strengths and weaknesses lend a nice touch of irony. The love scenes are not quite as steamy as in the other books. The conclusion is too abrupt, coming just as the characters reach their destination, but The Plains of Passage is still satisfying.-- Joan L. Reynolds, West Potomac High School, Fairfax County, VA
Los Angeles Times
Pure entertainment at its sublime, wholly exhilarating, best... Auel, a superb raconteur, has crafted a consistently engaging adventure story with a solid historical underpinning.
Houston Chronicle
Has an ending so good I will be standing in line when book five gets here.
From the Publisher
"Pure entertainment at its sublime, wholly exhilarating, best... Auel, a superb raconteur, has crafted a consistently engaging adventure story with a solid historical underpinning."
— Los Angeles Times

"Thrilling... This magical book is rich in details of all kinds... but it it the depth of the characters' emotional lives... that gives the novel such a stranglehold."

—Boston Sunday Herald

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Earth's Children Series , #4
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 5.40(h) x 2.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The woman caught a glimpse of movement through the dusty haze ahead and wondered if it was the wolf she had seen loping in front of them earlier.

She glanced at her companion with a worried frown, then looked for the wolf again, straining to see through the blowing dust.

"Jondalar Look!" she said, pointing ahead.

Toward her left, the vague outlines of several conical tents could just be seen through the dry, gritty wind.

The wolf was stalking some two-legged creatures that had begun to materialize out of the dusty air, carrying spears limed directly at them.

"I think we've reached the river, but I don't think we're the only ones who wanted to camp there, Ayla," the man said, pulling on the lead rein to halt his horse.

The woman signaled her horse to a stop by tightening a thigh muscle, exerting a subtle pressure that was so reflexive she didn't even think of it as controlling the animal.

Ayla heard a menacing growl from deep in the wolf's throat and saw that his posture had shifted from a defensive stance to an aggressive one. He was ready to attack! She whistled, a sharp, distinctive sound that resembled a bird call, though not from a bird anyone had ever heard. The wolf gave up his stealthy pursuit and bounded toward the woman astride the horse.

"Wolf, stay close!" she said, signaling with her hand at the same time. The wolf trotted beside the dun yellow mare as the woman and man on horseback slowly approached the people standing between them and the tents.

A gusty, fitful wind, holding the fine loess soil in suspension, swirled around them, obscuring their view of the spear holders. Aylalifted her leg over and slid down from the horse's back. She knelt beside the wolf, put one arm over his back and the other across his chest, to calm him and hold him back if necessary. She could feel the snarl rumbling in his throat and the eager tautness of muscles ready to spring. She looked up at Jondalar. A light film of powdery dirt coated the shoulders and long flaxen hair of the tall man and turned the coat of his dark brown mount to the more common dun color of the sturdy breed. She and Whinney looked the same. Though it was still early in the summer, the strong winds oft the massive glacier to the north were already desiccating the steppes in a wide band south of the ice.

She felt the wolf tense and strain against her arm, then saw someone new appear from behind the spear holders dressed as Mamut might have dressed for an important ceremony, in a mask with aurochs's horns and in clothes painted and decorated with enigmatic symbols.

The mamut shook a staff at them vigorously and shouted. "Go away, evil spirits! Leave this place!"

Ayla thought it was a woman's voice shouting through the mask, but she wasn't sure; the words had been spoken in Mamutoi, though. The mamut dashed toward them shakini the staff again, while Ayla held back the wolf. Then the costumed figure began chanting and dancing, shaking the staff and high-stepping toward them quickly, then back again as though trying to scare them off or drive them away, and succeeding, at least, in frightening the horses.

She was surprised that Wolf was so ready to attack, wolves seldom threatened people. But, remembering behavior she had observed, she thought she understood. Ayla had often watched wolves when she was teaching herself to hunt, and she knew they were affectionate and loyal to their own pack. But they were quick to drive strangers away from their territory, and they had been known to kill other wolves to protect what they felt was theirs.

To the tiny wolf pup she had found and brought back to the Mamutoi earthlodge, the Lion Camp was his pack; other people would be like strange wolves to him. He had growled at unknown humans who had come to visit when he was barely half-grown. Now, in unfamiliar territory, perhaps the territory of another pack, it would be natural for him to feel defensive when he first became aware of strangers, especially hostile strangers with spears. Why had the people of this Camp drawn spears?

Ayla thought there was something familiar about the chant; then she realized what it was. The words were in the sacred archaic language that was understood only by the mamuti. Ayla didn't understand all of it, Mamut had just begun to teach her the language before she left, but she did gather that the meaning of the loud chant was essentially the same as the words that had been shouted earlier, though cast in somewhat more cajoling terms. It was an exhortation to the strange wolf and horse-people spirits to go away and leave them alone, to go back to the spirit world where they belonged.

Speaking in Zelandonii so the people from the Camp wouldn't understand, Ayla told Jondalar what the mamut was saying.

"They think we're spirits? Of course?' he said. "I should have known. They're afraid of us. That's why they're threatening us with spears. Ayla, we may have this problem every time we meet people along the way. We are used to the animals now, but most people have never thought of horses wolves as anything but food or pelts," he said.

"The Mamutoi at the Summer Meeting were upset in the beginning. It took them a while to get used to the idea of having the horses and Wolf around, but they got over it," Ayla said.

"When I opened my eyes that first time in the cave in your valley and saw you helping Whinney give birth to Racer, I thought the lion had killed me and I had awakened in the spirit world," Jondalar said. "Maybe I should get down, too: and show them I am a man and not attached to Racer like some kind of man-horse spirit."

Jondalar dismounted, but he held on to the rope attached to the halter he had made. Racer was tossing his head and trying to back away from the advancing mamut, who was still shaking the staff and chanting loudly. Whinney was behind the kneeling woman, with her head down, touching her. Ayla used neither ropes nor halters to guide her horse. She directed the horse entirely with the pressures of her legs and the movements of her body.

Catching a few sounds of the strange language the spirits spoke, and seeing Jondalar dismount, the shaman chanted louder, pleading with the spirits to go away, promising them ceremonies, trying to placate them with offers of gifts.

"I think you should tell them who we are," Ayla said. "That mamut is getting very upset."

Jondalar held the rope close to the stallion's head. Racer was alarmed and trying to rear, and the mamut with her staff and shouting didn't help. Even Whinney looked ready to spook, and she was usually much more even-tempered than her excitable offspring.

"We are not spirits,'' .Jondalar called out when the mamut paused for a breath. "I am a visitor, a traveler on a Journey, and she--he pointed toward Ayla--is Mamutoi, of the Mammoth Hearth."

The people glanced at each other with questioning looks, and the mamut stopped shouting and dancing, but still shook the staff now and then while studying them. Maybe they were spirits who were playing tricks, but at least they had been made to speak in a language everyone could understand. Finally the mamut spoke.

"Why should we believe you? How do we know you are not trying to trick us? You say she is of the Mammoth Hearth, but where is her mark? She has no tattoo on her face."

Ayla spoke up. "He didn't say I was a mamut. He said I was of the Mammoth Hearth. The old Mamut of the Lion Camp was teaching me before I left, but I am not fully trained."

The mamut conferred with a man and a woman, then turned back. "This one," she said, nodding toward Jondalar. "he is as he says, a visitor. Though he speaks well enough, it is with the tones of a foreign tongue. You say you are Mamutoi, yet something about the way you speak is not Mamutoi."

Jondalar caught his breath and waited. Ayla did have an unusual quality to her speech. There were certain sounds she could not quite make, and the way she said them was curiously unique. It was perfectly clear what she meant, and not unpleasant-he rather liked it-but it was noticeable. It wasn't quite like the accent of another language; it was more than that, and different. Yet it was just that: an accent, but of a language most people had not heard and would not even recognize as speech. Ayla spoke with the accent of the difficult, guttural, vocally limited language of the people who had taken in the young orphan girl and raised her.

"I was not born to the Mamutoi," Ayla said, still holding Wolf back, though his growl had ceased. "I was adopted by the Mammoth Hearth, by Mamut, himself."

There was a flurry of conversation among the people, and another private consultation between the mamut and the woman and man.

"If you are not of the spirit world, how do you control that wolf and make horses take you on their backs?" the mamut asked, deciding to come right out with it.

"It's not hard to do if you find them when they are young," Ayla said.

"You make it sound so simple. There must be more to it than that." The woman couldn't fool a mamut, who was also of the Mammoth Hearth.

"I was there when she brought the wolf pup to the lodge,'' JondaLar tried to explain. "He was so young that he was still nursing, and I was sure he would die. But she fed him cut-up meat and broth, waking up in the middle of the night as you do with a baby. When he lived, and started to grow, everyone was surprised, but that was only the beginning. Later, she taught him to do what she wished-not to pass water or make messes inside the lodge, not to snap at the children even when they hurt him. If I hadn't been there, I would not have believed a wolf could be taught so much or would understand so much. It's true, you must do more than find them young. She cared for him like a child. She is a mother to that animal, that's why he does what she wants."

"What about the horses?" the man who was standing beside the shaman asked. He'd been eyeing the spirited stallion, and the tall man who was controlling him.

"It is the same with the horses. You can teach them if you find them young and take care of them. It takes time and patience, but they will learn."

Copyright 2002 by Jean M. Auel

Meet the Author

Jean M. Auel leapt onto the literary stage with publication of The Clan of the Cave Bear, an international bestseller. Her stardom has been validated by the ever-increasing success of her Earth's Children series. She lives in Oregon, and is at work on the long-awaited fifth volume.

Brief Biography

Portland, Oregon
Date of Birth:
February 18, 1936
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
M.B.A., University of Portland, 1976

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The Plains of Passage (Earth's Children #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 314 reviews.
Jadxia More than 1 year ago
This is the dullest book out of the series, but necessary if you want to understand everything that happens in the next book. They travel, they have sex, and they scare villagers witness who mistake them for gods or spirits. In between, there are extended lessons in prehistoric anthropology and geology. Seems like the publisher didn't bother to spellcheck when this series was converted into eBook format. It's full of typos.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished re-reading Jean Auel's Earth's Children series 1-4 again!! Once I start one I can't put it down until I finish them all. Jean Auel makes Ayla and Jondalar seem so real that I truly miss them when I finish 'The Plains of Passage'. When will books 5 and 6 be coming out? I can't wait to see what happens next. 'The Clan of the Cave Bear', 'The Valley of Horses', 'The Mammoth Hunters', and 'The Plains of Passage' are excellent and I would (and have) recommend them to anyone.
LisaCurll More than 1 year ago
This has always been one of my favorite series - as a bookseller, I highly recommend it. The books are all very long and highly detailed - which is great if you like your books to take a while to get through. All about the history of humanity during the ice age - has really opened my mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked the first three books in the Earth's Children series, but I found Plains of Passage tedious and boring. The author focuses too much on prehistoric geography and biodiversity. Just tell the story already and stop regurgitating your research! I got so tired of her stepping out of her storytelling shoes and into her lecture on the history of the ice age shoes that I eventually just gave up and stopped reading. Very, very disappointing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all four books in this series several times. The Clan of the Cave Bears, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, and The Plains of Passage. The stories are extremely close to what the Planet environment was at that time. Being an avid reader, these books have captivated my imagination like very few books have. I am waiting patiently for the next books in the series to be published. When I hear that the book is out,I will be on the way to the book store. Outstanding storytelling. I recommend reading the books in the order they were written. Read them all!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the description of the natural world around the two main characters and their continually developing relationship. What bothers me is the endless, drawn-out rehashing of information we already know. I don't need Ayla's relationship and history with Whinny explained to me sixteen times.
acrossthesea More than 1 year ago
I've read all of the nook versions of the Earth's Children books & they all have many typos, but this book has the MOST! In some cases if I didn't have the book to refer to, I wouldn't be able to guess the the misspelled word. I hope that the book coming out this month doesn't have the same problem. I am trying to decide if I should skip the nook version & go for the book itself. I give five stars in memory of the book. I give one for the nook version because my hands didn't turn black from the ink from my old books.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
Ms. Auel, please. In the future, if you are going to sign a writing contract, only do it for two books. It seems that you gave up after the first two books, which were among the best books that I have ever read.
Humeangel More than 1 year ago
The entire book is a series of descriptions of the main characters "making pleasures" and the history and biology of every plant and animal they come across including anthropological explainations of how cave dwellers used each item. It's a study in boredom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and actually became a bit wiser due to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jean Auel's books are books are a joy to read. I read the books over and over again. I only wish I could find out when books five and six will be put in print. I have been waiting for the seaquel's to the Earth's Children's series ever since the fourth book came out. I hope to find out soon .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Plains of Passage was a fun and interesting read. I have thoroughly enjoyed the series and feel my education on earth science has much improved at the same time. Can't wait to read Book five, so I think I will start now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the story but the author adds far too much detail about the time and setting. She goes on and on about random details; the main characters have sex & the detailed descriptions go on for 7 pages. I skip multiple pages while reading because they really have little to do with the actual plot!
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ChuckMahoney More than 1 year ago
Good but not nearly as well written as the author's previous books.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wa loved it very good read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These books are getting progressively worse and worse. What's the deal with the sex? The sex scenes are longer than the relevant plot points. This entire boom was just walking and sex, walking and sex.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it ! there was alot about caves but over all it kept me reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago