Jean M. Auel's Earth Children's series

I have recently joined Goodreads.com, which is a wonderful thing for me because now I can record all the books I have read, and rate them and if I ever forget, well hopefully there is an electronic copy of the list of books I have read.  I am trying to read 100 books this year, but we will see how it's going, I have read 29 books so far, if I picked books that weren't 1000 pages maybe I could read more, but I seem to like these long stories.

I started rereading the Earth Children's series by Jean M Auel.  The sixth book just recently came out in hardcover and I was able to purchase it at Costco the other day.  It was perfect timing as I was on the fifth book "Shelter of Stones, and was really looking forward to the release of the sixth and final book.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, I have read the first three books like 4 times now, but this is my second time reading the 4th and 5th book.  All in all I feel this series is a great series to spend time reading and the characters are great characters to get to love.

The first book is "Clan of the Cave Bear".  It is set in Europe during the ice age.  It introduces characters that are what we may call cave men, who don't quite resemble the humans we have evolved into, yet they are so close that to call them animals is not right either.  The clan comes across a young girl who has been injured after an earthquake took her family from her.  They care for her and although not all in the clan agree, raise her as one of their own.  Ayla is the main character, her precocious attitude and desire to learn and develop new ways of doing things is foreign to her 'family' but she tries hard to conform to their ways even though it goes against all her instincts.  Ayla grows up faster than most girls now but she is slow in developing in comparison to her clan family.  After some brutal encounters with one clan member that hates her, she is blessed with the thing she desires most, but even that is a trying time for her to overcome. Ayla is a character you can't help but love, her innocence and intelligence and loving heart endears her to everyone she meets, including the readers of this series, you can't help but want to continue on her journey.

The second book is "The Valley of the Horses".  I found this one to be a bit slower in developing simply because she is all alone.  We are also then introduced to Jondalar and Thonolan who are making a journey from far off to the east.  Ayla encounters the men after some devastating losses.  Ayla is able to try things and do different things simply because no one is around to tell her it can't be done, or that it's not something that is done.  With this freedom, Ayla is able to further her journey in developing her skills and experimenting with new things.  Jondalar and Ayla form a bond and Jondalar helps Ayla learn to communicate again with people who are not Clan.  Together they embark on a further journey to help Ayla rejoin the citizens she was born to as she leaves her clan life behind.

The third book, "The Mammoth Hunters" brings the reader into contact with the first people that Ayla is officially accepted by outside of the clan.  Regardless, of her upbringing and who she considers family, these people are able to see through this and understand the greatness that Ayla possess.  We also see Ayla and Jondalar struggle with communication and as they try to overcome problems that arise from Ayla's upbringing.  Ayla is also learning that just because she always did something one way doesn't mean it is expected in all social situations.  I personally found Jondalar to have had his head up his ass in this book.  Most of the misunderstandings stem from Jondalar's pride and refusal to just talk to Ayla about things.  It's clear that she doesn't understand, but he just assumes she knows what is going on.  I do find that I liked Jondalar less after this book, he seems rather possessive.

The Plains of Passage is the fourth book.  This book is very descriptive in the landscape that Ayla and Jondalar cover on their journey back to Jondalar's people.  Ayla and Jondalar encounter many people and all the people are willing to take on Ayla even though she was raised by 'flatheads' which is what people who look like Ayla call the Clan.  There is a huge prejudice to these people, simple because they look different and because they do not try to interact, there seems to be some understanding as to the division of land.  Ayla brings with her insight and understanding to these people and forces the people she meets to spend some time reevaluating their views of 'flatheads'.  In the end Ayla and Jondalar are successful in making it to his home.  I was sad when they made it there, I felt sad for Ayla because she was always being pushed/ forced to leave her people so she can make Jondalar happy. She is such an endearing character but sometimes I just want to slap her and tell her to say no to Jondalar.

The Shelter of Stones is the fifth book.  It describes Ayla finally getting her wish to be mated to Jondalar, but she still has to overcome prejudices and resentful people because she is the one Jondalar chose to be with.  It's a wonderful story that begins a healing journey for the people to start accepting differences as opposed to rejecting them and condemning those who are different.  It's not all easy and it's not a complete change but it is a start.  Ayla's decision to not try things just because they had never been done leads her to help open the eyes of the people she has chosen to live with.  Still Ayla struggles to appease everyone, but she does not understand the prejudices against the people who raised her or why it is so derogatory to have been connected with them.

I know it's not much of a book review right now, I am not even sure how a proper book review should be done, but I just think that if you ever want to get lost in historical fiction this may be a great series to delve into.

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