Thirty thousand years in the making and 31 years in the writing, Auel's overlong and underplotted sixth and final volume in the Earth's Children series (The Clan of the Cave Bear; etc.) finds Cro-Magnon Ayla; her mate, Jondalar; and their infant daughter, Jonayla, settling in with the clan of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonaii. Animal whisperer and medicine woman Ayla is an acolyte in training to become a full-fledged Zelandoni (shaman) of the clan, but all is not rosy in this Ice Age setting; there are wild animals to face and earthquakes to survive, as well as a hunter named Balderan, who has targeted Ayla for death, and a potential cave-wrecker named Marona. While gazing on an elaborate cave painting (presumably, the Lascaux caverns in France), Ayla has an epiphany and invents the concept of art appreciation, and after she overdoses on a hallucinogenic root, Ayla and Jondalar come to understand how much they mean to one another, thus giving birth to another concept—monogamy.
Fine Printing’s Review
If you have yet to read the first of Jean Auel’s novels, The Clan of the Cave Bear, then you need to get to it! Long awaited, The Land of Painted Caves finally released in March 2011, the very last in a series that took over thirty years to write! Auel did a superior job wrapping up the storyline in this final novel. Though not my favorite of the six book series, it gave closure to several open questions that remained and provided our last look at characters that we have come to love over the years.
Now, if you are thinking that your tastes don’t run towards ice age dramas, just trust me on this. I have heard that excuse from several others and have asked them to give the first book a chance before judgment is passed. And of course, they LOVED it! Auel’s writing is eloquent; attention to detail is absolutely stunning, almost as if a very detailed movie is playing in front of you. The characters draw you in and once immersed within the story you will be rooting for Ayla and Jondalar, experiencing a whole new world of animals, earth and two types of the human species!