This odyssey into the distant past carries us back to the awesome mysteries of the exotic, primeval world of The Clan of the Cave Bear, and to Ayla, now grown into a beautiful and courageous young woman. Cruelly cast out by the new leader of the ancient Clan that adopted her as a child, Ayla leaves those she loves behind and travels alone through a stark, open land filled with dangerous animals but few people, searching for the Others, tall and fair like herself. Living with the Clan has taught Ayla many skills but not real hunting. She finally knows she can survive when she traps a horse, which gives her meat and a warm pelt for the winter, but fate has bestowed a greater gift, an orphaned foal with whom she develops a unique kinship. One winter extends to more; she discovers a way to make fire more quickly and a wounded cave lion cub joins her unusual family, but her beloved animals don't fulfill her restless need for human companionship. Then she hears the sound of a man screaming in pain. She saves tall, handsome Jondalar, who brings her a language to speak and an awakening of love and desire, but Ayla is torn between her fear of leaving her valley and her hope of living with her own kind. Second in the acclaimed Earth's Children(R) series
Characters: Ayla's progress from clan member to solitary individual is interesting to see and fairly well done, but she is the only one who actually develops. The rest of the characters are out-of-the box and often only serve as a template to demonstrate stone age life.
Style: As always with the series, an abundance of information on prehistoric life, flora, fauna, climate patterns, geological phenomena and household techniques. The writing gets tiring pretty quickly since the prose is quite boring. Badly written dialogues, even more badly written sex.
Plus: The depth of research done for the book.
Minus: The need to show off said research. The discovery of the boring sex scenes. Too much soap opera drama.
Summary: It's not as good as Clan of the Cave Bear, but especially the earlier parts are not bad. The cheesiness factor increases dramatically towards the end.
The first half of the book is split between Ayla's and Jondalar's point of views. Ayla finds her own cave and is surviving alone, finding comfort only by taking in stray infant animals and caring for them. Jondalar meanwhile leaves his tribe by going on a journey with his brother, meeting up with several other tribe and having various encounters. The result is that the first half of the book dragged for me (it wasn't until Ayla and Jondalar FINALLY met each other that the pace picked up), and because Ayla is alone and Jondalar spends only short periods of time with any group of people, you don't get an in-depth look at any one culture as you did in Clan of the Cave Bear.
What you do get though is a brief looks at a variety of the Others (as Jondalar's people are described by the Cave Bear Clan), seeing how there is a mixture of perspectives and societies with different survival innovations — something you never saw among the Cave Bear Clan because of the problematic concept of racial memory. Auel also presents how the Others view the Clan as nothing more than animals. It's interesting, because for all that the Jondalar's peoples are good hearted with complex cultures, they are seen and stupidly and profoundly ignorant when it comes to the Cave Bear Clan. Their hatred is revealed to be illogical, especially when Ayla begins to reveal their humanity as she describes the Clan culture to Jondalar. It's an interesting complexity in terms of racial discussions, because for all that you want to like Jondalar's peoples, their clear racism against the Clan is disturbing, especially if you have read the first book first and grown attached to the Clan characters. So, the discussion of race in the sequel is still problematic, but at least it's an interesting problematic that opens potential for discussion.
And again this book, like the first, has some head scratching geographical and biological anomalies to it. Did buffaloes and antelopes and hyenas and wooly rhinos and horses and cave lions and mammoths all ever mix in the same location? I don't know, but I don't think so.
Another thing that had me wondering was the whole free love approach to sex that the author presents. Sex is a gift of Pleasures from the Mother and should be delighted in to honor her? Um. I'm not opposed to the idea per se, but I'm not convinced that the peoples were quite so free wheeling about that sort of thing back then. Maybe, but... Anyway, I guess despite the author's supposed research she can have her "historical" society be anyway she wants.
The character Jondalar is amusing, too, because he brings a Romance Novel aspects into the storyline that wasn't present in the first book. I remember a discussion with my college friends, when one said something like, "I know the book is totally ridiculous, but I still kind of want my own Jondalar." I can understand why. He's meant to be the perfect man, handsome, strong, tall, kind-hearted, giving in life and in love, and the perfect lover (remember what I said about the Pleasures), and of course the only person perfect enough for him to fall in love with is.... guess.
Oh! And there's the Shamud, a holy person of one of the tribes that Jondalar meets. The Shamud was interesting because the Shamud was presented as a male with the desires of a woman or a woman with the desires of a male. Jondalar keeps trying to guess which gender the Shamud is, but finally gives up under the assumption that it doesn't matter. The Shamud is powerful because of the lack of assigned gender, and is respected. Though I'm sure the portrayal isn't entirely without problems, I liked the Shamud character and how the author managed to skillfully avoid assigning gender pronouns, so that the character can remain both human and gender neutral.
Anyway, despite a lingering curiosity about what happens to Jondalar and Ayla now, the whole thing is pretty ridiculous and I think I'm pretty much done with this series, especially if the next book is going to be as slow going as the beginning of this one was.
A continuation of “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, I won’t say too much about how it happened, but in this book, Ayla is on her own, trying to survive, and looking for what the Clan call “the Others” – that is, people of her kind. She finds a nice spot to settle and manages to tame a horse, and raise a lion cub! Meanwhile (and I missed the circumstances around it), two brothers, Jondalar and Thonalan are travelling. Thonalan becomes injured, so they find a group of people to stay with while he improves.
I listened to the audio, so I did miss some things. Overall, I liked the story (I preferred Ayla’s chapters), but (and I will use terminology I found in other reviews), I didn’t think the “caveman porn” was necessary (though there was less of it than I expected, based on reviews). I could have done without the majority of it, though. I do hear it gets worse as the series goes on, but I think (for now), the story is interesting enough for me to continue to the next book. I also thought, for a prehistoric man, Jondalar was maybe a bit too contemporary in his attitudes toward women. Not everything was contemporary, but certainly more than I expected, although I guess we don’t really know what prehistoric culture was like. I did enjoy learning about the making of fire, tools, and the survival strategies and I loved Ayla’s animal companions. ¼ star was taken off for the caveman porn aspect.
That is, of course, if she can overcome the death curse, survive and FIND a people to join.
And if they can accept a woman who rides on, and talks to, animals!
I liked this book. The author goes into great detail about the area, rivers, herbs, plants, trees, animals and more.
I love this book because Ayla stands on her feet, she looks for the others but she doesn't need them any longer. The approach to the first of them is full of misunderstanding, progress, respect and insults: everybody is different and living together is not easy, different habits and different languages need a lot of time and patience butit is worth it as every married couple knows