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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some similarities, some differences
This volume of the story has a different tone than the other books do. There isn't the same tension and conflict as in the other books, since they have completed their Journey safely, and they are now committed to each other romantically, etc, and this gives the story a different, more relaxed tempo. There's still a mass of repetition, where the happy couple get to rehash...
Published on 10 Jun 2005 by Dane

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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was it worth the twelve year wait? Hmm...
This must be the longest I have ever waited for the next book in a series. I bought the first one in 1984 when I left home for university, got absolutely hooked and avidly read them as they appeared, including The Plains of Passage, which was the last one in 1990. If I have to wait another twelve years for the next book in the series, I'll be nearly fifty and will have...
Published on 2 May 2002


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some similarities, some differences, 10 Jun 2005
This volume of the story has a different tone than the other books do. There isn't the same tension and conflict as in the other books, since they have completed their Journey safely, and they are now committed to each other romantically, etc, and this gives the story a different, more relaxed tempo. There's still a mass of repetition, where the happy couple get to rehash all the things they've learned for the folks back home, and even though there are no Clan in this one, they are much talked about, and that means explanations of their memories--again, again. Ayla makes some enemies among her new people, but don't worry, she's still perfect, and the important people love her to death.
That said, I actually enjoyed this book, and more when I read it again recently after a few years. It's nice to have a slightly more in depth acquaintance with this group of people, like with the Mamutoi in the Mammoth Hunters, and it's nice to "meet" Jondalar's family, who have been hinted about since book nr. 2, and nice to know that these characters will continue to feature in the story, unlike all the other characters we've met up until now.
Ayla's wacky dreams and supernatural powers, which haven't said that much to me personally up to this point, begin to take a more central role in the story. Strangely enough, this is one area of Ayla's life that the author *hasn't* re-hashed and explained to death, and has chosen to let remain slightly mysterious, which makes it more effective now. As far as I know there is supposed to be a sixth book, and (SPOILER?) things seem to be pointing in the direction that number 6 will be concerned with our heroine's spiritual/shamanic development, and maybe some kind of reconciliation with the Clan? So despite the change of pace, I'm looking forward to the next installment.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was it worth the twelve year wait? Hmm..., 2 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
This must be the longest I have ever waited for the next book in a series. I bought the first one in 1984 when I left home for university, got absolutely hooked and avidly read them as they appeared, including The Plains of Passage, which was the last one in 1990. If I have to wait another twelve years for the next book in the series, I'll be nearly fifty and will have spent thirty years on this story.
So was it worth it and will I be anticipating the next book as eagerly? I'm not so sure. Oh, I'll read it - I have grown very fond of the heroine, but I found this book somewhat of a letdown. It mostly feels like scene-setting for the next book, and half the content seems to be retelling of the four books before (something that was already starting to irritate in The Plains of Passage, together with the too-dry lectures on flora, fauna and geography). Yes, the new people Ayla lives with need to know about her life, but it could have been done better. Jean Auel should really trust her readers more to know what has already happened - after all, we have had twelve years to read the story again and again. Compared to the scope of the plot in the earlier books, this is a bit feeble.
But I still want to know how it all ends. Meet you all at my fiftieth birthday party.
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109 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars entering the territory of 'Beyond Endurance', 10 May 2002
By 
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
I really, really wanted to love this book.

I have read the previous four at least 8 times each, averaging one or two volumes every 18 months over the past 20 years. With the latest release I have realised that the main joy of the previous volumes was Ayla's continual discoveries and innovations in survival situations. There are no discoveries in Shelters of Stone except for a limestone cave. An empty limestone cave. An empty limestone cave with blank white walls, perhaps the perfect symbol for this entire book. But that's only the start of the problems.

There was so much wasted potential here, so many, many plotlines that could have been explored, if only Ms Auel's passion had been present during the writing of it, but I'll get to that theory in a moment.

This book hurt to read, and it was irritating and finally it made me angry. I feel very let down. In an ordered list, here's why:

1. Throughout the previous three books, Jondalar made frequent references to his mother's mate, Willomar. In SoS, it was spelled Willamar. The first time I read it I thought I had found the first typo. After the 75th time, it was like getting popped with hot bacon fat. The author has been quoted as saying she changed the spelling because she felt it was more in keeping with how the character would have spelled his name. My question is, why is spelling an issue when it regards people who have no written language?

2. The instant Ms. Auel seemed to be flirting with a dramatic scene or actual character development, she interrupted-Sometimes In The Very Midst Of A Conversation(!)-with a page and a half treatise on why a certain oil might be used for a stone lamp...

3. There was a cast of a 75-80 characters that reminded me of those life-size cardboard cut-outs you buy in movie memorabilia shops. Why? In "The Mammoth Hunters" readers were introduced to nearly that many, yet each character had a distinct personality that added to the story. Maybe I just answered my own question...there was no story here, so why should I expect memorable people?

4. There are two ways to write sequels. One is to assume the previous books have been read and the other is to approach each book as a standalone. In the case of the Earth's Children series I would recommend that Ms. Auel assumes 95% of her public has read, re-read and recall with love the previous books and that they deserve the finest literary experience she is capable of delivering. I've been able to deal with repetition in previous volumes by skipping *that paragraph or so* and getting back to the story. In SoS I found myself skipping Entire Pages and hoping there was a story to get back to. And what is up with this Mother's Song? Not only is it too long and mind-numblingly banal, it is repeated three times and added as an addendum at the end. At this rate, I almost expect to see it with background music on a CD as well. My god. In Ms Auel's favour, she did not once mention that wolverine fur is great on hoods because they don't frost up from your breath. It's not much, but I am willing to give credit where credit is due. The major difficulty was the repetition, in some cases lifted word for word for **several pages** from the previous books, an obvious and inexcusable example of the purest laziness I have ever seen. And how many times must we read what we have read before, told again and again to different characters? And the long, drawn-out introductions including ties to everyone you've ever known? Get surnames, people! Sorry, I am starting to froth at the mouth. And repeat myself.

5. Misspellings, contextual inconsistencies and sophomoric writing. example: page 413:

"It seemed like a long time since he had held her like this, then she realized it had been a long time."

This is SO Wrong. If this was a first time effort, this book would never have seen the light of day. No one would have published it without serious editing, and even then probably not, for the simple fact that it happened to be 700-plus pages in search of A Plot.

In closing, borrow it if you have to, read it and spread the word:

We, the faithful readership, have been well and truly swizzed on this one. And that's a shame.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boringboringboring, 24 July 2007
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
Having read and loved the 1st 3 books and being giddily swept away by Ayla's character (totally unbeleivable but that's why we read heroic-type fiction in the 1st place!) I was slightly disappointed by the 4th (The Plains of Passage), there were too many discriptive passages and introspection, but when there was action it was brilliant action.

I was hoping that The Shelters of Stone would be like the 1st 3 - action-packed, exciting, the reader routing for Ayla all the way as she finally meets Jondala's family and tries to fit in with her strange and revolutionary ways. But it was more than dissapointing, it was dire. I found myself skipping whole pages just to get to something interesting.

Ms Auel has either gotten bored with writing about her character and pleasing the reader or she is on a mission just to impress the experts with her knowledge and assumptions of ancient facts and ideas and her obvious authority of plant life & their many uses. This was a sheer waste of her talent as a writer of fiction. If she just wanted to show off she should have plummed for writng a text book with this one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but lacks the interest of the first few books.., 29 Jun 2003
By A Customer
I loved Cave of the Clan Bear when I first read it. I was amazed by the detail and research that had gone into creating Ayla's world. This book however seems to lack this, and although it's not bad, it isn't excellent. Auel treads familiar ground once gain and this becomes monotonous but this is somewhat counteracted by the vision of Jolondar's home. When Ayla and Jondalar return to the Zelandonni they find that many see Ayla sceptically. But her intelligence and beauty seem to win many around.
Although this book contains some really good parts i.e when Ayla is convinced that the boy's underwear she is wearing is suitable for the gathering and when they go hunting, the book is somewhat slower in pace. Also I would have expected Jondalor's personality to be explored more as all the books apart from The Mammoth Hunter's haven't tackled it. If however you are a fan of the first four, this book was well worth the wait as it is exactly what you would expect from these books.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful & painful to read, 4 Jun 2002
By 
Mrs Wells (Ware, Herts United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
I wish I had spent time reading the book reviews online rather than reading the actual book. They are far more entertaining! Jean Auel seems to have got bored with her characters and given them 20th century touchy-feely personalities. Ayla seems to have become 'wonder woman' - is there nothing she can't do? how did the Zelondoni get on before she joined them? I ended up rooting for the 'baddies' hoping they would 'do her in', but even those storylines melted away. And the 'Mothers Song'... well don't get me started on that. A dreadful bore. from Kim Wells
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good editor needed for good author, 22 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
I don't really need to say that I've been waiting for this book, do I? Like everyone else addicted to the series I was thrilled to find it was coming out, and I'm still pleased that it was written, even though I mourn the lack of a copy-editor's big red pencil. Perhaps JK Rowling will have the same problem with her next book--that editors reverently accept the new book, grateful that it's been written at last,and don't dare change a word, or a phrase, because of her reputation.
This approach, if this is what happened, does Jean Auel no service. It's still interesting to read all about Ayla's introduction to Jondalar's people, but there is no real narrative grip here, as with the rest of the series, perhaps because there is no central problem to be solved (I'm sorry, but her worries about being a working mother just don't substitute).
I loved the details about survival in the earlier books--here, for the first time, we hear nothing about these. Whereas in the previous books we learned minute details of life that helped to characterise the people, here even Ayla's cooking skills, her special way of preparing Ptarmigan, for instance, aren't mentioned. Once she actually catches the bird, but there is no follow-up about her cooking it. I was looking forward to Jondalar's mother being impressed by her weird and wonderful herbal skills.
Perhaps I malign the editors, perhaps they did cut it, because though on the one hand it looks rambling and woolly, on the other hand it looks as though great chunks have been missed out. There are continuity problems in part. The Zelandoni are not as closely characterised as other peoples have been, and everyone seems incredibly tolerant and liberal. I quite enjoyed the way in which prejudice was examined in the other books, and Jondalar certainly seemed to suggest that the Z's would have a big problem with Ayla's background, but oh no, everyone's cool about the clan, except for a few troublemakers who aren't allowed to be an interesting threat at all.
Don't get me wrong, there are lots of good bits here, and fans will enjoy it--it's like an addiction--but there could have been so much more vivid detail, and much less repetition. Why don't we have any real description of Ayla's baby? and--oh please!--couldn't there have been a better name than Jonayla? I thought we might have Iza, at least that would have some resonance. How many mothers call a baby after themselves and their partner? It reminds me of those bungalows called 'Dunroamin'.
The Mother's song was a sticking point for me as well--I'm sorry, but I have to admit I don't admire this as poetry or as myth. Did we really have to have it printed so many times? It looked suspiciously like a space-filler. I know Ayla's planning to learn it, but do we ALL have to? The point of a book is that you can re-read passages if you like, you don't need to have them repeated.
Good points about this book are there's no artificial disaster--Ayla deserved a break after all--and it does at least make you want to read the next one, if only to tie off all those annoying loose ends.
So read it, but don't expect too much. There's nothing new, no real development of relationships and alas, no real development of our knowledge either. I loved the way the other books used fact to bolster fiction, here the two sit uncomfortably together.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry Jean, but so should you be!, 28 July 2002
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
This is a complicated book to review. There are elements of the story that I loved and really drove home all the aspects of civilisation that we take for granted, such as the power of contraception, the importance of fire, and mostly the massive implications on society depending on whether it is believed that it was man or woman that came first.
Unfortunately the book relies too heavily on the previous novels in the series for its story telling, having absolutely no imagination or creative flair of its own. The basis is there with the complex workings of the Zelandoni civilisation but at no point is it brought to life for the reader, it is drowned in endless descriptive prose that you would have to take notes on and constantly refer back to to begin to grasp whats going on, and that seriously wouln't be worth it.
I could go on that the characterisation was weak, and that Ayla and Jondalar are mear charictatures of their former selves (oh I just did!) but I guess thats just subjective to personal opinion. In any case I strongly recommend against buying this book, at least in hardback. If you're a fan like me of the series then I doubt anything will put you off giving Shelters of Stone a go, but get it out of the library or something. you'll thank me!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money...., 27 Jun 2002
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
If you are considering buying this book, hold on to your money, and spend it on something worthwhile. Like the majority of reviewers here, I eagerly awaited the release of this installment of the Earth's Children series. I finally managed to get my copy, and looked forward to a great read. The first indication that things were not looking good was while I was reading Jean Auel's lengthy introduction.
From here on in, my reading pattern for this book was a bit like knitting - read a page, skip a page, read two pages, skip ten pages. This book is boring, repetitive, unimaginative, uninspired, and an insult to those fans who have remained loyal to the author over the years.
Shame on you Ms. Auel for taking 12 years to deliver, what for me, was one of the worst reads of my life. Next time around, I'll be the one saving my money, and waiting for the book to hit the second-hand stores!
p.s. Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that the cave drawings featured so much in this book, have taken over as the artwork on the covers? Bring back to original artwork please!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Both good and bad..., 22 May 2007
This review is from: The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) (Hardcover)
Shelters of Stone has a markedly different tempo than the other books. Ayla and Jondalar's travels are at an end and the story is more about their integration with the Zelandonii. While the Mammoth Hunters was almost equally sedentary, that book had a much more complicated plot. The characters were more complex and there was more emotion involved.

Parts of the Shelters of Stone are interesting--I particularly enjoyed the more philosophical/ethical/spiritual discussions among the zelandonia. And the parts of the book where things actually HAPPEN are fine--ceremonies, hunts, accidents, discoveries.

One problem with the book is that it contains soooooo much repetition. This is actually a problem with the series. The first books were not as irritating because there wasn't as much to repeat, but the later books, especially Shelters, include much of the earlier books' plots. It's not Auel's thorough and detailed description of the fauna, flora and landscape. Part of her writing style is that she is so good at setting the scene. The problem seems to be that Auel wants each book to stand on its own as well as mesh with the series. That's impossible. In Shelters, Ayla meets many many people (another downside to the book: tons of characters, the vast majority of which are very small parts--little more than a name on a page). Unfortunately, instead of telling us "Ayla showed them how to use the firestones and explained how she had discovered this amazing thing" Auel uses 5 pages to re-tell the story. Not even as dialogue, but as a narrative recap. If you've read all of the books just once, this is about the tenth (or more!) time you've read about how Ayla discovered the firestones. And since Ayla meets so many people in Shelters of Stone, the process is retold more than once *in the same book*!!!

Auel apparently feels the need to do something similarly with most of the couple's discoveries: tamed animals, spearthrowers, threadpullers, ideas about conception and prevention, and of course the whole debate about the Clan and "mixed spirits". All of these topics are rehashed multiple times in the latest book, although they are nothing new in terms of the series. And again, it's not the reactions of the Zelandonii that I'm complaining about, it's the fact that Auel feels it necessary to re-tell the stories in detail to the readers.

Another thing that seems odd in light of the earlier books is that this book has "villains" of a sort. Troublemakers who want revenge or attention. But unlike Broud, Frebec and Attaroa in the earlier books, the "bad guys" in Shelters of Stone don't seem as fleshed out. It's harder to understand their motivation, one has the feeling "get over it already" instead of taking their vengeful obsessions seriously.

I'm totally against censorship or altering literature in any way, but I have to admit that this book would be better if it were abridged!
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The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children)
The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) by Jean M. Auel (Hardcover - 30 April 2002)
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