About a week ago I finally finished the last book in Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series. Whew! This is going to be my review of the whole series, book by book and some reviews will be longer than others. Mostly because I want to get this out before I forget.
So without further ado, here we go!
Clan of the Cave Bear
This was the first book I read and it is by far still my favorite of the entire series (with Valley of Horses as a close second)
The descriptions are vivid, the plot is solid and captivating. I get very caught up in this book. The characters are believable, the culture of the Clan and the imagination that is put into so many of the aspects (and the actual historical research) makes this book a very interesting read.
I come back to it again and again, and it never gets old or boring.
The author really used her imagination on the aspects of this period in time and a people we will never really know how they lived, the rituals they performed, or the hierarchy of the society.
It's thrilling and captivating.
Valley of Horses
The second book in the series again is very detailed in both geographical and technological aspects,giving the story "meat" and realism. The back and forth stories between Ayla and Jondolar doesn't bother me too much and I think it gives the book some variety and keeps in line with the first book in that it's not all from Ayla's perspective.
The detail and good story telling are what keep this book fresh and interesting. I do enjoy this book very much.
This is sort of an on the fence book for me.
While I do enjoy the aspect of Ayla learning to come to terms with a culture completely alien to her, with expectations and traditions, with coming to a new understanding a way of living and perceiving things...this is where things start to become a bit "Mary Sue" for my tastes...but it's not awful.
I enjoy the drama and mysticism.
I love the culture of the Mammoth Hunters. It explores aspects. Again, i like the imagination and research that went into the book to make a solid story.
Plains of Passage
And this is where the series starts to go a bit downhill. While I understand this was supposed to be a journey-type story...this was WAY too long to get to the conflict. Once the book FINALLY got to it, it was good. There were many things that could have been cut and it still would have been a good book. (The repeated stops for sex, the long explanations of the terrain. . .May I please refer the author back to her first two books, while when discussing traveling some distance it didn't have to be a detailed account. It was enough to get a lay of the land and to show the progress of the traveler(s). We got the point.)
The first book covered several years in the space that this book took to cover one. That was one thing that bothered me. Second, I didn't enjoy the fact that *every* people they met (or re-met in Jondolar's case...would it have hurt to have them meet some new people along the way other than that one group?) wanted Ayla to stay because she was so amazing. (insert eye roll here).
To be honest, this book and the following book most likely could have been condensed into one book and it still would have held up fairly well, and may have even been better.
Shelters of Stone
Not awful...but it's started to get a bit repetitive. Yes, we get it...Ayla has an accent (of course she does.) Yes, people are intimidated by Wolf and the horses...saying this once maybe twice would have been enough. Or at least use some EDITING. You don't have to go into detail about how Wolf is introduced to new people every time it happens.
It took way too long to get to the Matrimonial, which by the time it was described..it was very anti-climatic. But okay.
I thought the Zelandoni were too easily convinced that the Clan were not animals. Comparing their reactions to Jondolar's initial reaction in the 2nd book is a bit unbelievable. But the fact not everyone was swayed and there were still people who kept those initial ideas was good.
I did enjoy The Mother's Song. I thought it was very poetic and beautiful.
I also enjoyed the further expansion of the Zelandoni culture and it's hierarchy.
But overall this book was a bit..meh.
Land of Painted Caves
Let it be stated I can't stand this book, and I only finished it because I didn't want to leave the series unfinished. If I had read this book first, I never would have wanted to read the other ones..that's how boring it was.
There's not much good to say about this book. I'm having trouble thinking of something good to say about it.
Once again...this needed to be edited in the worst way possible
Like Shelters there was too much repetition of introductions, comments on Ayla's accent, her ability with animals, Jondolar's good looks, the repeating of The Mother's Song, which while pretty and innovative in the previous book, it gets really old, really fast. I found myself skipping over the repeated Song because it didn't need to be there. Trust me, a line as simple as "(Insert character here) began to sing The Mother's Song" or something along those lines would have been enough.
Again and again Wolf is introduced to people (yes, yes, we know!)
Or there are long repetitions of what happened in the previous books (yes, we KNOW. One or two sentences would have been enough. Several paragraphs...not necessary.)
Ayla's Child is Perfect
No child is this good. Jonayla never seems to do more than a mild pout. I don't care what time period you come from. No 4 year old is that good or understanding all the time.
Lack of Imagination
What made the first two books so engaging was the imagination put into them. This book lacked imagination in the most important area...THE PAINTED CAVES THAT IS BOOK IS NAMED FOR! While the descriptions are very detailed (yay..I like that) would it have killed Ms. Auel to put some imagination into how/why the paintings were made? I was imagining ceremonies or rituals that showed the painting of the caves, or a reason why they were painted..to be told (repeatedly..and with more repetitions of The Mother's Song) that they "don't know" who or why the caves were painted. I almost threw the book in frustration. Come ON, You're a fiction writer...use your imagination. I was expecting so much more, instead we get chapter after chapter that sounds like something that belongs in a non-fiction book about the caves.
Repeating plot lines.
Oh look, there's no real drama until the 3rd part of the book...and it's basically repeating the drama-fest from Mammoth Hunters but in reverse. And to be honest, I did not understand Ayla's reaction to Jondolar coupling with Marona. She grew up with the Clan where it was understood that sexual release wasn't always tied to romantic feelings. Even with her own people it wasn't that way, and she knew that. There could have been so many other avenues to explore for drama's sake, for conflict's sake...not a rehash of an earlier plot three books ago.
After finishing the last book, I gave it back to Half-Price books. I could not keep it in my house because it's that bad. It overcame my desire to have the series as a whole. And that's saying a lot.
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