The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1)

The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1)

by Jean M. Auel

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly—she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553250428
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1984
Series: Earth's Children Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 529
Sales rank: 25,142
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.45(d)
Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jean M. Auel is an international phenomenon. Her Earth's Children® series has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide and includes The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, The Shelters of Stone, and The Land of Painted Caves. Her extensive research has earned her the respect of archaeologists and anthropologists around the world. She has honorary degrees from four universities and was honored by the French government's Ministry of Culture with the medal of an "Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters." She lives with her husband, Ray, in Oregon.


Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1936

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


M.B.A., University of Portland, 1976

Read an Excerpt

The naked child ran out of the hide-covered lean-to toward the rocky beach at the bend in the small river. It didn’t occur to her to look back. Nothing in her experience ever gave her reason to doubt the shelter and those within it would be there when she returned.

She splashed into the river and felt rocks and sand shift under her feet as the shore fell off sharply. She dived into the cold water and came up sputtering, then reached out with sure strokes for the steep opposite bank. She had learned to swim before she learned to walk and, at five, was at ease in the water. Swimming was often the only way a river could be crossed.

The girl played for a while, swimming back and forth, then let the current float her downstream. Where the river widened and bubbled over rocks, she stood up and waded to shore, then walked back to the beach and began sorting pebbles. She had just put a stone on top of a pile of especially pretty ones when the earth began to tremble.

The child looked with surprise as the stone rolled down of its own accord, and stared in wonder at the small pyramid of pebbles shaking and leveling themselves. Only then did she become aware she was shaking too, but she was still more confused than apprehensive. She glanced around, trying to understand why her universe had altered in some inexplicable way. The earth was not supposed to move.

The small river, which moments before had flowed smoothly, was roiling with choppy waves that splashed over its banks as the rocking streambed moved at cross purposes to the current, dredging mud up from the bottom. Brush close by the upstream banks quivered, animated by unseen movement at the roots, and downstream, boulders bobbed in unaccustomed agitation. Beyond them, stately conifers of the forest into which the stream flowed lurched grotesquely. A giant pine near the bank, its roots exposed and their hold weakened by the spring runoff, leaned toward the opposite shore. With a crack, it gave way and crashed to the ground, bridging the turbid watercourse, and lay shaking on the unsteady earth.

The girl started at the sound of the falling tree. Her stomach churned and tightened into a knot as fear brushed the edge of her mind. She tried to stand but fell back, unbalanced by the sickening swaying. She tried again, managed to pull herself up, and stood unsteadily, afraid to take a step.

As she started toward the hide-covered shelter set back from the stream, she felt a low rumble rise to a terrifying roar. A sour stench of wetness and rot issued from a crack opening in the ground, like the reek of morning breath from a yawning earth. She stared uncomprehendingly at dirt and rocks and small trees falling into the widening gap as the cooled shell of the molten planet cracked in the convulsion.

The lean-to, perched on the far edge of the abyss, tilted, as half the solid ground beneath it pulled away. The slender ridgepole teetered undecidedly, then collapsed and disappeared into the deep hole, taking its hide cover and all it contained with it. The girl trembled in wide-eyed horror as the foul-breathed gaping maw swallowed everything that had given meaning and security to the five short years of her life.

“Mother! Motherrr!” she cried as comprehension overwhelmed her. She didn’t know if the scream ringing in her ears was her own in the thunderous roar of rending rock. She clambered toward the deep crack, but the earth rose up and threw her down. She clawed at the ground, trying to find a secure hold on the heaving, shifting land.

Then the gap closed, the roar ceased, and the shaking earth stilled, but not the child. Lying face down on the soft damp soil churned loose by the paroxysm that convulsed the land, she shook with fear. She had reason to fear.

The child was alone in a wilderness of grassy steppes and scattered forests. Glaciers spanned the continent on the north, pushing their cold before them. Untold numbers of grazing animals, and the carnivores that preyed on them, roamed the vast prairies, but people were few. She had nowhere to go and she had no one who would come and look for her. She was alone.

The ground quivered again, settling itself, and the girl heard a rumbling from the depths, as though the earth were digesting a meal gulped in a single bite. She jumped up in panic, terrified that it would split again. She looked at the place where the lean-to had been. Raw earth and uprooted shrubs were all that remained. Bursting into tears, she ran back to the stream and crumpled into a sobbing heap near the muddy water.

But the damp banks of the stream offered no refuge from the restless planet. Another aftershock, this time more severe, shuddered the ground. She gasped with surprise at the splash of cold water on her naked body. Panic returned; she sprang to her feet. She had to get away from this terrifying place of shaking, devouring earth, but where could she go?

There was no place for seeds to sprout on the rocky beach and it was clear of brush, but the upstream banks were choked with shrubs just sending forth new leaves. Some deep instinct told her to stay near water, but the tangled brambles looked impenetrable. Through wet eyes that blurred her vision, she looked the other way at the forest of tall conifers.

Thin beams of sunlight filtered through the overlapping branches of dense evergreens crowding close to the stream. The shaded forest was nearly devoid of undergrowth, but many of the trees were no longer upright. A few had fallen to the ground; more leaned at awkward angles, supported by neighbors still firmly anchored. Beyond the jumble of trees, the boreal forest was dark and no more inviting than the brush upstream. She didn’t know which way to go, and glanced first one way, then the other with indecision.

A tremble beneath her feet while she was looking downstream set her in motion. Casting one last yearning look at the vacant landscape, childishly hopeful that somehow the lean-to would still be there, she ran into the woods.

Urged on by occasional grumbling as the earth settled, the child followed the flowing water, stopping only to drink in her hurry to get far away. Conifers that had succumbed to the quaking earth lay prostrate on the ground and she skirted craters left by the circular tangle of shallow root — moist soil and rocks still clinging to their exposed undersides.

She saw less evidence of disturbance toward evening, fewer uprooted trees and dislodged boulders, and the water cleared. She stopped when she could no longer see her way and sank down on the forest floor, exhausted. Exercise had kept her warm while she was moving, but she shivered in the chill night air, burrowed into the thick carpet of fallen needles and curled up in a tight little ball, throwing handfuls over herself for a cover.

But as tired as she was, sleep did not come easily to the frightened little girl. While busy making her way around obstacles near the stream, she was able to push her fear to the back of her mind. Now, it overwhelmed her. She lay perfectly still, eyes wide open, watching the darkness thicken and congeal around her. She was afraid to move, almost afraid to breathe.

She had never been alone at night before, and there had always been a fire to hold the black unknown at bay. Finally, she could hold back no longer. With a convulsive sob, she cried out her anguish. Her small body shook with sobs and hiccups, and with the release she eased into sleep. A small nocturnal animal nosed her in gentle curiosity, but she wasn’t aware of it.

She woke up screaming!

The planet was still restless, and distant rumbling from deep within brought back her terror in a horrifying nightmare. She jerked up, wanted to run, but her eyes could see no more wide-open than they could behind closed lids. She couldn’t remember where she was at first. Her heart pounded; why couldn’t she see? Where were the loving arms that had always been there to comfort her when she woke in the night? Slowly the conscious realization of her plight seeped back into her mind and, shivering with fear and cold, she huddled down and burrowed into the needle-carpeted ground again. The first faint streaks of dawn found her asleep.

Daylight came slowly to the depths of the forest. When the child awoke it was well into the morning, but in the thick shade it was difficult to tell. She had wandered away from the stream as daylight faded the previous evening, and an edge of panic threatened as she looked around her at nothing but trees.

Thirst made her aware of the sound of gurgling water. She followed the sound and felt relieved when she saw the small river again. She was no less lost near the stream than she was in the forest, but it made her feel better to have something to follow, and she could quench her thirst as long as she stayed near it. She had been glad enough for the flowing water the day before, but it did little for her hunger.

She knew greens and roots could be eaten, but she didn’t know what was edible. The first leaf she tasted was bitter and stung her mouth. She spit it out and rinsed her mouth to remove the taste, but it made her hesitant to try another. She drank more water for the temporary feeling of fullness and started downstream again. The deep woods frightened her now and she stayed close to the stream where the sun was bright. When night fell, she dug a place out of the needled ground and curled up in it again.

Her second night alone was no better than her first. Cold terror lay in the pit of her stomach along with her hunger. She had never been so terrified, she had never been so hungry, she had never been so alone. Her sense of loss was so painful, she began to block out the memory of the earthquake and her life before it; and thoughts of the future brought her so close to panic, she fought to push those fears from her mind as well. She didn’t want to think about what might happen to her, who would take care of her.

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The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1) (Enhanced Edition) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 840 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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father read the books, and everytime he read a few chapters, he went into my room to tell me all about it. After he finished, he gave the books to me. I was fifteen, and layed them away for a year. After that year I found them again, and read the first page. I almost read the entire chapter there, down of the floor in front of my bookcase. I have never before and probably will never again fall in love with a book as much as I did with these. And especially The Clan of the Cavebear. I've just read it for the eleventh time (for real!) and still found things I missed the first times. These books opened my eyes to the full experience of reading a book. Not only reading, but seeing, feeling, living and breathing a book. I can absolutely recommend it to everyone, although you do have to consider all the extra text concerning the environment and animals present. I loved them, I love to learn, but others will find it difficult to read long descriptions. In any way, it is a book worth reading, more than most are!
FosterHope More than 1 year ago
I first read this book years ago, and it impacted by adult reading choices more than any other book I've read. This story draws you in, to another time, to another person, to another way of thinking. This book is less tedious than Auel's later books, more meat to the story, less descriptive fluff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to see that there is a sixth book in this series! I have read and reread all of them wishing she would do another, I finally got my wish. I highly recomend this series. An amazing story and very well writen!
turlisa More than 1 year ago
I first read Clan of the Cave Bear about 20 yrs ago. It was a book that I put aside and said I would read only if I got desperate enough to pick it up. Well I did, and imagine my surprise when I found it to be then and now one of my most favorite series ever. I have followed Ayla through the Clan to the Zelandonii and am anxiously awaiting the new book coming out in March, Land of the Painted Caves. I truly hope that this is NOT the end of the earth children series. It is long overdue. My only critisism of this eBook, and the series that continue is that they have been poorly proof read. I found mistakes everywhere, and was highly disappointed. Things like "Life" being typed as Ufe. "rime" instead of "time" and so on. Either way, if you can get past the typos, it is a very good read and I highly recommend it.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
This is easily one of the best books ever written. Captivating, exhilirating, informative, the list of accolades is too long to list. I read this book in two sittings. And I read it again. One of my top five favorite books of all time. And then you get to read Valley of the Horses, which is even better!!!!!!! But you can stop after Book 2 (Valley of the Horses), because starting with the third book (The Mammoth Hunters), Ms. Auel is simply completing a contract. The Mammoth Hunter is all humping and horticulture, soap opera drama, cold weather and that is it. Books 4-6 are even worse, and a total waste of time and money.
SophieSimon More than 1 year ago
Ayla is born to "the Others" but after a natural disaster she is orphaned, and found, almost dying, by the Clan of the Cave Bear. She is eventually adopted by the clan and has to adjust to her new family and environment. The challenge is overwhelming for such a little girl. She is often cast out and faces many trials, but she shows courage, strength and determination that make her unique as a character. Although she will never truly fit with the clan, she develops many special relationships with its members. The affection between Ayla and her new family-- Creb, the shaman, and Iza, the medicine woman-- is heart warming to read. Although perhaps she is not realistic as a character of the time period (prehistoric Europe), Ayla is a well-developed character with such a unique story. The reader really feels as if they understand her struggles, and well as those of the clan, who have their own primal culture unlike anything we've ever seen. I really enjoyed reading this novel.
Meg_Espey More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I have ever read. It gives wonderful descriptions of the hardships early people had to go through to stay alive. Ayla is a headstrong woman and I love that she can take care of herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have only read this book of the series but I am dying to get my hands on the others!!! I have never read a book that caused me to think so much about the way of the world and to cry as much as i did with this book. while I was reading this book I would stay up late into the night sobbing my eyes out for poor little Ayla. THIS IS TRULY THE MOST TOUCHING BOOK EVER WRITTEN!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read these books twice and loved it each time. They are wonderful and took me to another world and another time.
Britt_IA More than 1 year ago
I read this book long ago but was so excited to hear about the newer release by Jean for this series that I revisited. The second time around wasn't any less enjoyable. If you like historical fiction, this is the book for you. Romance, history, vivid characters, unique story line - I appreciate all of it.
Read_the_Journey More than 1 year ago
21 years ago this series began and I was so moved by the strength and insight of Ayla, it gave me courage as a girl becoming a woman in high school. I read this book more times than I can count and was personally incensed at the movie attempt; first for the dilution of Jean Auel's incredible written word and second for the revolting maudlin screen interpretation. If you were unfortunate enough to see only the movie, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT let it deter you from stepping into Ayla's time and travels to explore her world. I remember distinctly the joy of hearing paleontological discoveries that prove the detailed research she devoted to spin a tale of heart, history, and perseverance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series. With every book it just gets better. It took forever for her to finish this series it was worth it... all except the final book. I was 31 when the first book came out and I was 59 when the last book came out. The last book was aweful as in you wanted ro scream! I was outraged that I preordered it a year before it was released, paid top dollar for it and then it turned out to not only to be one of the worse books I've ever read but also the worse ending to a series I've ever read. Read all of the series and then stop at Shelters of Stone as I feel that reading the final book will ruin the series for you.
ToReadPerchancetoDream More than 1 year ago
Clan of the Cave Bear is the first book in Jean M. Auel's Earth Children Series. It was first published in 1980. I read this book sometime in the 1990s and remember liking it a lot. I didn't get the same warm fuzzy feelings reading it the second time around. I'm not sure if it's my 20 year age difference, the style of writing then vs now, or what it might be. The story is refreshingly unique and drew me in immediately. My interest waned as Auel spent so much time describing everything. Not just the environment, but the people as well. Show me, don't tell me. Let me see what a character is like by what they say and do instead of so much descriptive text. It made some of the characters fall flat. A saving grace in this novel is the relationships. It was obvious by their actions how much Iza and Creb cared for Ayla and how she loved them. The difference in their appearances didn't matter. That's a lesson we all need to remember. Clan of the Cave Bear is an intriguing story, not one you find everywhere in these days of vampires and zombies. I think it's worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this series many years ago and loved them all, am reading them again to refresh my memories and to enjoy them all over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic series! She uses great description and its fun to read about each character
TigerLionLeopard More than 1 year ago
From the first book in the series "The Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean M. Auel I have been an avid fan of the Earth's Children books. Always looked forward to the next book in the series.
Nook_Reader83 More than 1 year ago
I'd read many similar stories over the years, but somehow missed this series. When I noticed others' stories clearly referencing this series I decided it was time to read "the original" and I'm glad I did. Not a quick read, obviously, as it's huge. Guess it's a good thing I've always favored long stories for their (usually) greater capacity for character development. :)
Yaca More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from beginning to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I'm reading the series for the first time and am amazed by how good the story is. The characters are great, the descriptions are amazing, and the plot has a hook that I hardly ever see in a book. 5 stars!
Landry More than 1 year ago
Happy to have this one in my library. Highly Recommended.
Rayna Hathcox More than 1 year ago
The books have an amazing amount of detail and heartwarming story lines. It makes you want to just jump in and go through the story with the characters themselves! Every book is just as amazing as the first. (6 books in total, I have read every one multiple times)
Linda Montano More than 1 year ago
I started reading this as an homage to my dad- this was his favorite series... I only wish I'd started sooner because it is such an engaging story that captures your heart from the start. I am happily addicted to continuing Ayla's story and rooting for her until the very end- I'm halfway thru the series and am glad my dad loved her story and piqued my interest in the Clan of the Cave Bear books.
MirahLee More than 1 year ago
My Mother first bought me The Clan of The Cave Bear in 1989, about 6 years after it was first published. I was 10 years old. I read it, and fell in love. I've fallen back in love with the story each and every time I've read it, which I have faithfully done at least once a year for the past 22 years. I feel as if I've grown up with Ayla, and Auel's beautiful descriptions and storytelling continue throughout the series. I've treasured each and every book, and have waited in anticipation for YEARS for each new installment to come out. I've spent most of my childhood and all of my adulthood (so far, I'm only 31) awaiting the next chapter in the saga. I'm excited to read the final story, but sad that I won't have another one to look forward to as it is said this will be the final book. This is truly a literary masterpiece, for young and old alike. Thank you Jean Auel for bringing this story to us, and for giving me decades of enjoyment!