This series of books is very special to me. My mother suggested I read it when I was in high school, and as soon as I read the first one (The Clan of the Cave Bear) I was hooked.
It is an immense saga set in prehistoric times, as cro-magnum's are coming into their own and neanderthals are dying out. Ayla is a cro-magnum, or an Other, but is raised by the neanderthals, or The Clan, after she is found by them as a young girl. The series documents her life; her trials and tribulations. She is made an outcast by the people she was raised by and goes on a journey to discover her true self and her people. Along the way she meets many wonderful characters, including Jondalar - her soul mate.
Ayla is also fated for some bigger role in the development of the human kind. She has some inkling that this is the case, but dreams of living a normal life with Jondalar and hopefully a family.
As yet, we don't know what will happen to Ayla, and that is because the series is incomplete.
There are five books in this series with the sixth and final book scheduled to be released next year. Auel began the series in the lat 1970's, so it is about time that we got to read the end. The novels are:
- The Clan of the Cave Bear,
- The Valley of Horses,
- The Mammoth Hunters,
- The Plains of Passage, and
- The Shelters of Stone.
The Clan of the Cave Bear was a really excellent book. It had the perfect blend of story and historical information. Unfortunately, as the books progressed, Auel seemed to become more concerned with showing off her knowledge of the era in which the story was based. You are increasingly given long winded descriptions of landscape and social and cultural practices. Not that this isn't interesting, but Auel takes it so far that it makes me feel as if she is showing off her knowledge rather than telling the story.
Another complaint is in relation to the sex scenes between Ayla and Jondalar. Don't get me wrong, I like a good sex scene.... but these are not good. They read as if they are out of Mills and Boon and yet these books should be so much better than Mills and Boon. The sex is just so cheesy and cliche it is difficult to read.
Finally - the fact that this series has been going for so long! I love this series of books (despite my complaints) and it really annoys me that I have had to wait since 2002 for the next instalment of the books.
How can it possibly take someone 30 years to complete a series. It doesn't seem fair to the fans. The cynical side of me thinks that it is because Auel is spending so much time researching it so that she can bore us with limitless detail instead of just getting on with the story of Ayla and Jondalar, which is what we are all reading the series for.
Please don't let my complaints get in the way of you reading this story - I complain because I love the books so much! I re-read this series all the time, and have re-read the first three this year for the umpteenth time. The Mammoth Hunters (the third instalment) is my favourite of all. Truth be told, I often consider naming my first born daughter Ayla after the character in these books.
If you are looking for something interesting and factual whilst being a little bit trashy at the same time - with a good dose of romance thrown in, this is the series for you. No wait.... this is a series for everyone!
What kind of read is this?
Although each book looks very thick, they are very easy to read. It is historical fiction meets romance, and it is fabulous.
Do I recommend this book?
I recommend all of them, The first and the third in the series are my favourites.
Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Without hesitation. They are just as good each time you read them.