The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children #2)

The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children #2)

4.4 404
by Jean M. Auel

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Here is an unforgettable odyssey into a world of awesome mysteries, into a distant past made vividly real, a novel that carries us back to the exotic, primeval world we experienced in The Clan Of The Cave Bear -- and to beautiful Ayla, the bold woman who captivates us with her fierce courage and questing heart. Cruelly cast out by the ancient Clan that adopted…  See more details below


Here is an unforgettable odyssey into a world of awesome mysteries, into a distant past made vividly real, a novel that carries us back to the exotic, primeval world we experienced in The Clan Of The Cave Bear -- and to beautiful Ayla, the bold woman who captivates us with her fierce courage and questing heart. Cruelly cast out by the ancient Clan that adopted her as a child, Ayla now travels alone in a land of glacial cold and terrifying beasts. She is searching for the Others, a race as tall, blond, and blue-eyed as she. But Ayla finds only a hidden valley, where a herd of hardy steppe horses roams. Here, she is granted a unique kinship with animals, enabling her to learn the secrets of fire and raw survival -- but still, her need for human companionship and love remains unfulfilled. then fate brings her a stranger, handsome Jondolar, and Ayla is torn between fear and hope -- and carried to an awakening of desire that would shape the future of mankind.

"Shiningly intense... Sheer storytelling skill holds the reader in a powerful spell." -- Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Fred Down
Auel may be creating one of the most believable characters in English fiction -- one to rank with Sherlock Holmes, Scarlett O'Hara and a handful of others." -- United Press International
From the Publisher
"Shiningly intense... Sheer storytelling skill holds the reader in a powerful spell." — Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Earth's Children Series, #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.07(w) x 9.17(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Chapter 1

She was dead. What did it matter if icy needles of freezing rain flayed her skin raw. The young woman squinted into the wind, pulling her wolverine hood closer. Violent gusts whipped her bearskin wrap against her legs.

Were those trees ahead? She thought she remembered seeing a scraggly row of woody vegetation on the horizon earlier, and wished she had paid more attention, or that her memory was as good as that of the rest of the Clan. She still thought of herself as Clan, though she never had been, and now she was dead.

She bowed her head and leaned into the wind. The storm had come upon her suddenly, hurtling down from the north, and she was desperate for shelter. But she was a long way from the cave, and unfamiliar with the territory. The moon had gone through a full cycle of phases since she left, but she still had no idea where she was going.

North, to the mainland beyond the peninsula, that was all she knew. The night Iza died, she had told her to leave, told her Broud would find a way to hurt her when he became leader. Iza had been right. Broud had hurt her, worse than she ever imagined.

He had no good reason to take Durc away from me, Ayla thought. He's my son. Broud had no good reason to curse me, either. He's the one who made the spirits angry. He's the one who brought on the earthquake. At least she knew what to expect this time. But it happened so fast that even the clan had taken a while to accept it, to close her out of their sight. But they couldn't stop Durc from seeing her, though she was dead to the rest of the clan.

Broud had cursed her on impulse born of anger. When Brun had cursed her, the first time, he hadprepared them. He'd had reason; they knew he had to do it, and he'd given her a chance.

She raised her head to another icy blast, and noticed it was twilight. It would be dark soon, and her feet were numb. Frigid slush was soaking through her leather foot coverings despite the insulating sedge grass she had stuffed in them. She was relieved to see a dwarfed and twisted pine.

Trees were rare on the steppes; they grew only where there was moisture enough to sustain them. A double row of pines, birches, or willows, sculptured by wind into stunted asymmetrical shapes, usually marked a watercourse. They were a welcome sight in dry seasons in a land where groundwater was scarce. When storms howled down the open plains from the great northern glacier, they offered protection, scant though it was.

A few more steps brought the young woman to the edge of a stream, though only a narrow channel of water flowed between the ice-locked banks. She turned west to follow it downstream, looking for denser growth that would give more shelter than the nearby scrub.

She plodded ahead, her hood pulled forward, but looked up when the wind ceased abruptly. Across the stream a low bluff guarded the opposite bank. The sedge grass did nothing to warm her feet when the icy water seeped in crossing over, but she was grateful to be out of the wind. The dirt wall of the bank had caved in at one place, leaving an overhang thatched with tangled grass roots and matted old growth, and a fairly dry spot beneath.

She untied the waterlogged thongs that held her carrying basket to her back and shrugged it off, then took out a heavy aurochs hide and a sturdy branch stripped of twigs. She set up a low, sloping tent, held down with rocks and driftwood logs. The branch held it open in front.

She loosened the thongs of her hand coverings with her teeth. They were roughly circular pieces of fur-lined leather, gathered at the wrist, with a slit cut in the palms to poke her thumb or hand through when she wanted to grasp something. Her foot coverings were made the same way, without the slit, and she struggled to untie the swollen leather laces wrapped around her ankles. She was careful to salvage the wet sedge grass when she removed them.

She laid her bearskin wrap on the ground inside the tent, wet side down, put the sedge grass and the hand and foot coverings on top, then crawled in feet first. She wrapped the fur around her and pulled the carrying basket up to block the opening. She rubbed her cold feet, and, when her damp fur nest warmed, she curled up and closed her eyes.

Winter was gasping its last frozen breath, reluctantly giving way to spring, but the youthful season was a capricious flirt. Amid frigid reminders of glacial chill, tantalizing hints of warmth promised summer heat. In an impulsive shift, the storm broke during the night.

Ayla woke to reflections of a dazzling sun glinting from patches of snow and ice along the banks, and to a sky deep and radiantly blue. Ragged tatters of clouds streamed far to the south. She crawled out of her tent and raced barefoot to the water's edge with her waterbag. Ignoring the icy cold, she filled the leather-covered bladder, took a deep drink, and ran back. After relieving herself beside the bank, she crawled inside her fur to warm up again.

She didn't stay long. She was too eager to be out, now that the danger of the storm had passed and the sunshine beckoned. She wrapped on foot coverings that had been dried by body heat and tied the bearskin over the fur-lined leather wrap she had slept in. She took a piece of dried meat out of the basket, packed the tent and hand coverings, and went on her way, chewing on the meat.

The stream's course was fairly straight and slightly downhill, and the going was easy. Ayla hummed a tuneless monotone under her breath. She saw flecks of green on the brush near the banks. An occasional small flower, bravely poking its miniature face through melting patches of snow, made her smile. A chunk of ice broke loose, bumped along beside her for a pace, then raced ahead, carried by the swift current.

Spring had begun when she left the cave, but it was warmer at the southern end of the peninsula and the season started earlier. The mountain range was a barrier to the harsh glacial winds, and maritime breezes off the inland sea warmed and watered the narrow coastal strip and south-facing slopes into a temperate climate.

The steppes were colder. She had skirted the eastern end of the range, but, as she traveled northward across the open prairie, the season advanced at the same pace. It never seemed to get warmer than early spring.

The raucous squeals of terns drew her attention. She glanced up and saw several of the small gull-like birds wheeling and gliding effortlessly with wings outstretched. The sea must be close, she thought. Birds should be nesting now—that means eggs. She stepped up her pace. And maybe mussels on the rocks, and clams, and limpets, and tide pools full of anemones.

The sun was approaching its zenith when she reached a protected bay formed by the southern coast of the mainland and the northwestern flank of the peninsula. She had finally reached the broad throat connecting the tongue of land to the continent.

Ayla shrugged off her carrying basket and climbed a craggy outcrop that soared high above the surrounding landscape. Pounding surf had cleaved jagged chunks of the massive rock on the seaward side. A bevy of dovekies and terns scolded with angry squawks when she collected eggs. She broke open several and swallowed them, still warm from the nest. She tucked several more into a fold of her wrap before climbing down.

She took off her footwear and waded into the surf to wash sand from mussels pried loose from the rock at water level. Flowerlike sea anemones drew in mock petals when she reached to pluck them from the shallow pools left stranded by the receding tide. But these had a color and shape that were unfamiliar. She rounded out her lunch with a few clams instead, dug from the sand where a slight depression gave them away. She used no fire, enjoying her gifts raw from the sea.

Surfeited on eggs and seafood, the young woman relaxed at the foot of the high rock, then scaled it again to get a better view of the coast and mainland. Hugging her knees, she sat on top of the monolith and looked out across the bay. The wind in her face carried a breath of the rich life within the sea.

The southern coast of the continent curved in a gentle arc toward the west. Beyond a narrow fringe of trees, she could see a broad land of steppes, no different from the cold prairie of the peninsula, but not a single sign of human habitation.

There it is, she thought, the mainland beyond the peninsula. Where do I go now, Iza? You said Others were there, but I don't see anyone at all. As she faced the vast empty land, Ayla's thoughts drifted back to the dreadful night Iza died, three years before.

"You are not Clan, Ayla. You were born to the Others; you belong with them. You must leave, child, find your own kind."

"Leave! Where would I go, Iza? I don't know the Others, I wouldn't know where to look for them."

"North, Ayla. Go north. There are many of them north of here, on the mainland beyond the peninsula. You cannot stay here. Broud will find a way to hurt you. Go and find them, my child. Find your own people, find your own mate."

She hadn't left then, she couldn't. Now, she had no choice. She had to find the Others, there was no one else. She could never go back; she would never see her son again.

Tears streamed down Ayla's face. She hadn't cried before. Her life had been at stake when she left, and grief was a luxury she could not afford. But once the barrier was breached, there was no holding back.

"Durc . . . my baby," she sobbed, burrowing her face in her hands. Why did Broud take you away from me?

She cried for her son, and for the clan she had left behind; she cried for Iza, the only mother she could remember; and she cried for her loneliness and fear of the unknown world awaiting her. But not for Creb, who had loved her as his own, not yet. That sorrow was too fresh; she wasn't ready to face it.

When the tears had run their course, Ayla found herself staring at the crashing surf far below. She watched the rolling breakers spout up in jets of foam, then swirl around the jagged rocks.

It would be so easy, she thought.

No! She shook her head and straightened up. I told him he could take my son away, he could make me leave, he could curse me with death, but he could not make me die!

She tasted salt, and a wry smile crossed her face. Her tears had always upset Iza and Creb. The eyes of people in the Clan did not water, unless they were sore, not even Durc's. There was much of her in him, he could even make sounds the way she could, but Durc's large brown eyes were Clan.

Ayla climbed down quickly. As she hoisted her carrying basket to her back, she wondered if her eyes were really weak, or if all the Others had watering eyes. Then another thought echoed in her mind: Find your own people, find your own mate.

The young woman traveled west along the coast, crossing many streams and creeks that found their way to the inland sea, until she reached a rather large river. Then she veered north, following the rushing waterway inland and looking for a place to cross. She passed through the coastal fringe of pine and larch, woods which boasted an occasional giant dominating dwarfed cousins. When she reached the continental steppes, brush of willows, birches, and aspens joined the cramped conifers that edged the river.

She followed every twist and turn of the meandering course, growing more anxious with each passing day. The river was taking her back east in a general northeasterly direction. She did not want to go east. Some clans hunted the eastern part of the mainland. She had planned to veer west on her northward trek. She did not want to chance meeting anyone who was Clan—not with a death curse on her! She had to find a way to cross the river.

When the river widened and broke into two channels around a small gravel-strewn island with brush clinging to rocky shores, she decided to risk a crossing. A few large boulders in the channel on the other side of the island made her think it might be shallow enough to wade. She was a good swimmer, but she didn't want to get her clothes or basket wet. It would take too long for them to dry, and the nights were still cold.

She walked back and forth along the bank, watching the swift water. When she decided upon the shallowest way, she stripped, piled everything into her basket, and, holding it up, entered the water. The rocks were slippery underfoot, and the current threatened to unbalance her. Midway across the first channel, the water was waist high, but she gained the island without mishap. The second channel was wider. She wasn't sure if it was fordable, but she was almost halfway and didn't want to give up.

She was well past the midpoint when the river deepened until she was walking on tiptoe with the water up to her neck, holding the basket over her head. Suddenly the bottom dropped. Her head bobbed down and she took an involuntary swallow. The next moment she was treading water, her basket resting on top of her head. She steadied it with one hand, trying to make some progress toward the opposite shore with the other. The current picked her up and carried her, but only for a short distance. Her feet felt rocks, and, a few moments later, she walked up the far bank.

Leaving the river behind, Ayla traveled the steppes again. As days of sunshine outnumbered those of rain, the warming season finally caught up and outpaced her northward trek. The buds on trees and brush grew into leaves, and conifers extended soft, light green needles from the ends of branches and twigs. She picked them to chew along the way, enjoying the light tangy pine flavor.

She fell into a routine of traveling all day until, near dusk, she found a creek or stream, where she made camp. Water was still easy to find. Spring rains and winter melt from farther north were overflowing streams and filling draws and washes that would be dry gullies or, at best, sluggish muddy runnels later. Plentiful water was a passing phase. The moisture would be quickly absorbed, but not before it caused the steppes to blossom.

From the Hardcover edition.

Copyright 2002 by Jean M. Auel

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What People are saying about this

Mary K. Chelton
The author's fictionalized hypotheses about how humankind might have first ridden horses or invented a bow and arrow and the details of Ayla's surviva lare fascinating. Jondalar comes off as a big handsome well-endowed sexy bore. . . . The sex is certainly of bestseller quality but somehow trite in context, and the dialog is occasionally too modern for comfort. Perhaps a sequel to something as innovative and superb as Cave Bear can never measure up, and this one, while interesting to readers of the first book, still doesn't.

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The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children #2) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 404 reviews.
MagiV More than 1 year ago
So sad - I have all of this series in hard copy, but really wanted them on my new Nook, especially with the new Land of the Painted Caves coming out next month! I started reading at the beginning, and was immediately struck by how AWFUL the translation to eBook had been - NEVER occurred to me that B&N didn't get access to the electronic files which the printers use when printing up new books, right? - NEVER occurred to me these books were OCRed, which means that many times the words are incorrect or missing. There are formatting issues like italics where it does not belong, a sentence that runs right off the page of the Nook never wrapping around. Punctuation that was incorrect or completely missing. And, unlike the old classics, we have to PAY for this. I actually needed to use my hard copy to be sure of what I was reading - in each edition! I wrote a letter of disgust to B&N, and was told - in short, that my issues were being sent on to the publisher and when they made corrections, it would automatically be uploaded to my Nook - BUT, that I was not entitled to any kind of refund per B&N blah, blah, blah.... Very sad. I have many other books on my Nook that are 10 & 20 years old yet there are no "typos" in those books. Be warned!
Brigit More than 1 year ago
In this sequel to The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Ayla is forced to make a new home for herself after being forced out of the clan she grew up with. She finds a valley with a cave and starts using all of her skills and wits to survive. This book is as well-written and researched as the first. Ayla has an amazing ability with plants and their food and medicinal uses. She knows how to store food for winter and how to make tools, equipment and clothing. She has an inner strength that keeps her alive when most people would have given up. After all of her training as a medicine woman, she can't help but to nurse to health any ill or injured creature that crosses her path and, so it is the reason she makes some unusual lifelong friends. I love the descriptions in this book of the terrain, weather, animals, plants and how Ayla perceives everything in her new world. A very entertaining and informative book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MagiV's review dated Feb 8, 2011 says that at that time, there were lots of typos, punctuation and formatting errors - enough to ruin the eBook. I stayed away from this nook book until now because of this review, but finally bought it. I have read to page 36 and have found no typos, punctuation errors, or formatting issues, so I guess B & N did get access to the electronic files and has since come out with a clean copy. Don't not buy this book because you're afraid of poor quality text - that problem seems to have been solved. As to the book itself, I've always really liked Auel's Earth's Children series and this is my favorite volume because of the rich descriptions, based on Auel's research, of the way people lived in Paleolithic times.
Peppercat53 More than 1 year ago
As another reviewer has stated: the book is great and you should read it if you like historical fiction, but the copy into ebook format is horrible. There are a lot of punctuation errors, mispellings, and grammatical errors. I expected more from ebooks- this copy is pretty horrible. It's a good thing I've read the book before in paperback...
rockharder81 More than 1 year ago
I love the Earth's Children series. Fantastic detail, rich characters and enjoyable stories. However, I have noticed from one ebook to another, the copy is terrible. There are misspelliings, glaring grammar issues and punctuation problems. I hope they transcribe these books again and fix the problems. I would have bought hard copies if I had known there were so many problems in the electronic versions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Clan of the Cave Bear was, and still is, my favorite book. Perhaps I expected too much of the sequel, but I felt that it fell short of its predecessor. Ayla was an endearing character in the first book, a person who did things that went against what was expected of her, such as hunting, yet in this book she appeared to be too eager to please. Another dissapointment was the stressing of sex in the book. At times it seemed that it was all Jondalar cared about. I found myself skipping pages because it happened so ofted it became repetitive. However, despite the dissapointment, I did feel that this book was well researched and imaginative. Perhaps the book fell short because my hopes were too high.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The adventurous life of Ayla continues here in The Valley Of The Horses. This time she is no longer a child of 5 but 17 years old, living on her own for three years after being cursed and banished by the Clan who once adopted and accepted her. Here, we read the heart wretching moments of her loneliness, as well as her courage for survival. Although, some parts are a bit repetitive and flimsy, the experiementings, discoverings, trials and errors are an interesting read. I find Ayla's animal companions heart warming, her determination inspiring. In this book, we are also introduce to Jondalar, a handsome & charasmatic Zelandonii, who travelled with his brother Thonolan's, searching for adventure. The brothers story have some appealing moments but it dragged on a little too much for my liking. I find myself skipping pages, anticipating the meeting of Ayla and Jondalar, which unfortunately didn't occur until the chapter 19th of this book (and 10 chapters later, the book ended. Imagine that!). For me, it took too long for both characters to finally meet up. Also, Thonolan's story seemed to distract me, perhaps I just didn't grasp the point of his story in this book. Nevertheless, Jondalar is an exciting character for Ayla. I enjoyed this book more as soon as the two met up. They not only learned about each other but from each other. After breaking the communication barrier, they shared ideas, exchange customs and experiences... then came the acceptance and love. I find their relationship a challenge, as well as intriguing. However, I am sad to admit that this book didn't create a lasting impression on me. Compared to THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEARS, this one just didn't seem to completely move me nor did it captivated me. It is overall an average read, which I would still recommend especially to those who have started the Earth Childrens Series. I am hoping that the 3rd book of the series,THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS will be more to my liking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book continues the epic story of the beautiful Alya who is cast out of her clan. She walks the world alone until finding a a majestic valley filled with wild horses. She meets up with a handsom youth who was terribly injured in an attack by a cave lion. Does not understand his language but amazingly quickly learns. Jonolar shows her, her first loves. This book is wonderful on how Ayla survives just by using a sling and her incredible intellegence of the land. Great for people with a good imagination
Anonymous 7 months ago
I could not put this down! It is a little slow in some sections that are highly detailed but a fast skim gets the story moving again.
Anonymous 11 months ago
It's in my opinion, this one was better then the first, but.'s hard to rate it against the first. They were both amazing
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SEX SEX SEX AND SOME MORE SEX. It has lots o sex innit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The girl Ayla if remarkable howerver the auther descibes things that are unnessary for the story
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Entertaining read
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