Monday, April 18, 2011

Land of Painted Caves - Jean M. Auel

Land of Painted Caves
Jean M. Auel
Crown Books
Copyright: March 2011

The product description:
The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children® series, The Land of Painted Caves, is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. The Land of Painted Caves is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors. 
Now that's not a lot of description for a book that's over seven hundred pages long. There's a lot in the sixth and final book Jean Auel wrote about Ayla and Jondalar. I've seen a lot of negative reviews of the book, but I'm not seeing what it's all about. Yes, the book is long and there's lots of detail, but for me it worked.

Land of Painted Caves picks up after Shelters of Stone, but I'm not exactly sure how long it's been since Shelters of Stone ended. At any rate, Jonayla, their daughter is a couple of years old (I think). I haven't read Shelters of Stone since it came out about ten years ago, so my memories are quite foggy on the subject to be honest. So, the two have finished their great journey to the Zelandonii in the previous two books. Now, Ayla is learning from Zelandoni the First. A lot of this book is about the interpersonal relations between the two travellers and Jondalar's people. There are a couple of surprising encounters though, but I don't want to risk giving spoilers.

As with the previous books, Land of Painted Caves is richly detailed, and it's very clear that the author has really done her research. I liked getting all the details of how a particular plant (in this case the cattail) can be used, so I enjoyed that part of the reading. Others seem to have found it repetitive. The same thing is true for the painted caves that make up the title of the book. Personally, I'd like to learn more about the cave paintings now and try and figure out/identify all of the caves that are described.

Still, even though I liked the book a lot, I'm not a hundred percent sold on the ending. It worked, but yet again it's "Ayla reveals something new". And, sets things up for a future of conflict. And yet, it's something that needed to be discovered. I really don't want to say more and risk spoilers though.

I realized while reading Land of Painted Caves that I need to reread the other books in the series: Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage and Shelters of Stone. I was just too foggy on the details. Now, if I'd just finished reading those, maybe I'd understand the comments about the book being repetitive, because there's a lot of book there. But, I didn't find it so.

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