The second to the last book in Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children series took awhile for me to finish. The last book I reviewed (book 4) in the series was back in July 2020, so just over a year and a half. That’s a stretch to read a book. Granted, the book is 753 page (apparently listening to the audio book doesn’t speed things up), but still, it really shouldn’t take so long, right?
But, I did finally finish it. That’s saying something. So, let’s jump in and see what has happened to Ayla and Jondalar and all the others in this bizarre and somewhat overly gratuitous fictional series.….
Pregnancy and Returning Home
In the last book (book 4) we left off with Ayla and Jondalar returning to Jondalar’s home, Zelandoni, after the long trek across the glacier. We left Ayla pregnant and pick up in book 5 with future nuptuals happening at the summer meeting between the two.
There is a great deal made about the spear throwers they bring back as well as the animals accompanying them. They go to the summer meeting and get married and in the meantime Jondalar sneaks off with the other men and build Ayla a house of her own.
There are issues with neglectful mothers and babies that need to be fed. Also the wolf is beat up by other wolves (that’s what he gets for sneaking out and staying gone for so long).
Having a Baby
Toward the end of the book, Jonayla is born, a girl, named as such to point to Ayla’s growing belief that children are conceived by the pairing of the two parents rather than the spirits.
She also is being encouraged to become a spiritual leader, though all Ayla really wants to do is marry Jondalar and become a mother and take care of her family. She does eventually accept the position, though reluctantly.
During the book she also discovers the cave of Lascaux, though you would never know it from the book itself. There are paintings inside the cave all over the walls of giant animals and humans. This is an actual cave where the story presumably takes place, in France.
Contention Over Flatheads
As always, there are issues and struggles for Ayla with Jondalar’s people concerning the “flatheads.” Most everyone in this group think of flatheads as animals, but Ayla (opinionated as she is) is first to argue that they are people too and that they raised her from a baby and if they had not taken her in she would have died after the death of her people in the cave (whoever that was).
There is one guy in particular (though, I don’t remember his name from memory) that was quite upset about the whole ordeal.
Bottom line, I think this is a way of painting modern day social dynamics into the ancient past. It’s quite anachronistic to assume there were issues like this between distinct groups of people when we have no actual record of such disputes existing (or even if there were distinct genetic groups to begin with). Stop preaching at me, Auel. I get enough of that from the so called “news.”
I’m Growing Tired
To be honest, I’m growing a bit tired of this series (if you can’t tell by how long it takes me to read each book). Between all the endless and unnecessary porn, to the sleep inducing how-to manuals inserted into each chapter that explain how to flint nap a knife or to make a bowl or a particular herb works in a poultice. Write a book already, not a how to manual of how to theoretically survive and thrive in prehistoric times (especially since there is no way to really know what life was like back then or what kind of people were living then or what their society was like).
There is, I think, a great deal of assumption going on in these books. In her after thought section in the audiobook she’s interviewed about how she goes about writing each book. She commented on the vast amount of research she does for each one. The problem I have with this is just because you have a collection of artifacts from a particular location does not in any way describe what the mating, marriage, or other social rituals were for the group of people living there. There is a lot of speculation that goes into this, but too often the speculative aspects are glossed over with a thin veneer and then call the whole process “science.” Science is empirical. If it can’t be reproduced. If you are “guessing.” Then it’s not science. That is speculation.
The Last Book Next
So, after I finished this book I took about a week break and then discovered I already had the last book (#6) cued up on my phone, ready to start. Of course, I think I made it through the first chapter (if that) and have not returned to it (hey, at least I’m consistently inconsistent). I’m sure about this time next year I’ll be posting the review for the last book in the series. I mean, I’m too far into these books to stop now, but I think these last several chapters are going to be a real difficulty for me. I guess it will just depend on what’s happening in my life at that time. When there are difficulties I tend to not do anything extracurricular like fiction reading. But, when things are calm and peaceful, I’m able to widen my mental bandwidth a little. Here’s to a nice, peaceful 2022.
In the end, Shelters of Stone was as good as I could have expected. I think if the author cut out all the excessive porn (walking through a field is not a reason to grab a girl and drop to the ground and start making out – I mean there is often no reason at all in this book), and the how-tos, she probably could have condensed the entire series into one or two books. Of course, that would not have generated the revenue that 6 books most likely made over the years. So, I guess I understand what they’re after. It doesn’t help the reader, of course, since we’re the ones that have slog through all that drivel. But, there are some series that I never could get through the first page, let alone most of the books. So there is something to say about this series that it has retained my attention all these years. It was a lifelong goal to read Clan of the Cavebear and I managed to do that and four additional books on top of that. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same with the Game of Thrones books (though I don’t really think we’ll get the sixth book in that series let alone the 7th book that’s planned.
Until my next review….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:
There was a knock at the door.
Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.
A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.
Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.
He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.
“Hey,” Campbell said.
The kid was stumbling over his own words.
Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.
This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.
There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.
“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”
He started to leave.
“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”
The kid paused.
“What’s your name?”
He fidgeted with his collar.
“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”
“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.
“Did you – ? ”
The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.
He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.
“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”
Campbell chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.
“Well – ”
Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.
The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.
Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.
“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”
Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?
But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!