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on 2 September 2003
The Valley of Horses is the second book in Jean M Auel's magnificent Earth's Children series. Having been exiled from the clan of neanderthal's that had raised her, Ayla now has to journey alone and find ' the others', cro-magnons like her.
This is an epic and moving story of a young girl's struggle to survive and adapt to the fear of being totally alone in a strange and hostile environment.
Whilst travelling, Ayla discovers a valley that becomes her haven and her home and here she finds longed for companionship with a horse she raises from a foal.
Parallel to the story of Ayla is the tale of cro-magnon brothers who are 'journeying' in search of adventure. Ms Auel manages to handle these two seperate story strands with ease and switching between them never 'jars'. eventually the stories intertwine and become one as Ayla finally comes face to face with one of her own kind.
As rich in detail as the first book in the series this book is an absorbing read and one that is difficult to put down. Highly recommended.
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on 2 October 2000
Jean Auel takes us back to the frozen lands of pre-history, in this fantastically written saga of Ayla's struggle to survive in the harsh climate of the Ice-Age. Ayla befriends a motherless foal, and also becomes the very first cat lover! This is a tale of how Ayla meets one of the "Others" and how she learns their very strange ways, so very different from her Neanderthal upbringing. This book, and the others in the "Earth's Children" series are so addictive, I read them constantly in rotation. All I can finish with is Absolutely Wonderful. Roll on the next instalment.
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on 18 January 2004
Ayla has been exiled from the Clan of Neanderthals that raised her since she was five years old. Iza and Creb have died and now that she is in exile Ayla has had to leave her son Durc behind with her sister Uba. Alone and with very little possessions for her survival Ayla travels across the country in search of "the others", Cro-Magnon people to whom she was born. However eager to find a home for the winter Ayla stays in a Valley in which she finds a foal which she raises and cares for to ease her loneliness. Aylas caring nature also causes her to adopt a lion cub, however the lion cub had a greater impact on her fate than even Ayla could image. At the same time as Ayla is finding her independence two Cro-Magnon brothers Jondalar and Thonolan are travelling across the continent from their home in Southern France in search of the end of the Great Mother River and adventure. Jean M Auel has surpassed herself this book is even greater than the one before. The circumstances which unite Ayla and Jondalar are well thought out and just like the Clan of the Cave Bear the world in which Ayla lives in is thoroughly researched and detailed. Jondalar and Thonolans adventure gives the reader knowledge of "the others" and the many different cultures present in this one race of people. Through this writing technique the reader is fully informed not only about the customs and culture of the Neanderthal people but the Cro-Magnon people aswell. Auel has provided this book with a great collection of new characters and settings to move the story along whet ever happens in future books this one is the best yet. I challenge anyone to read this book and criticise it!
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on 2 July 2002
This is the second instalment in the Earth's Children series and follows the beautiful Ayla after she is expelled from the clan that raised her and is forced to fight for survival in a harsh and unfamiliar land. Heading north she searches for her own people but eventually settles alone in a small valley to wait out the oncoming winter. The story also introduces Jondalar, a charismatic young man who follows his brother on a journey to find the end of the Great Mother river.
This book is probably the best in the Earth's Children saga. Auel deftly blends a compelling tale discovery with authentic detail to paint a captivating view of life in the ice age. Above all, she imbues with book with a rare sense of passion that truly involves the reader in the story. We feel for the characters' triumphs and sorrows and experience a building sense of anticipation as their journeys lead them towards one another.
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on 18 January 2004
Ayla and Jondalar have left the security of Aylas valley and have decided to stay with the Mamutoi for the winter who decide to adopt Ayla into their Clan. This is the first time we see Ayla interact with her own race of people and as expected there are some severe confrontations especially with Frebec who dislikes Ayla because she was brought up by the Neanderthal Clan (Flatheads). This book shows the reader the type of prejustice Ayla will have to deal with for the rest of her life and gives us a taste of how her life will change. Ayla meets Ranec a charming carver of the Mamutoi and has to make a life changing decision - Jondalar or Ranec - to journey to Southern France in search of Jondalars people or to stay and mate Ranec and live with the Mamutoi. This book is a little slower than the other two and the extensive detail of the world around Ayla though detailed is a little tedious after a while however the plot and story line make up for the amounts of description. Even though the first two books surpass this one reading this book will be no disappointment. Aylas adventure and life story continue and it's a sheer delight to see her evolve and grow as a person both in herself and among other people of her race. No doubt this book is the bridge between Aylas earlier life of pain and loss and her future with the man she chooses and the people with whom she will live. Anyone who has read the first two books must read this one even if it is just out of sheer curiosity about what happens next. This book is part of a great series and even though it may not be the best is essential to Aylas story and life. A must read for any fan of Earth Children
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on 23 July 2002
The heroine of The Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla, sets out alone and discovers a lush valley surrounded by bleak steppes. Feeling the loneliness of her situation, she adopts an orphaned foal and rescues an injured lion cub from a certain death. While she lives in the valley for three years without human contact, a young man, Jondalar, sets out with his restless younger brother who is eager to see the world.
When the two finally meet, it is the first time Ayla meets one of her own since losing her parents who she doesn't remember. At the same time Jondalar is drawn to this strange and beautiful woman who lacks social skills but has a talent for healing.
This second instalment should not only appeal to those who want to know what happens next to Ayla after she leaves the Clan but can also be enjoyed as a great read on its own. This book is well written and shows up the author's imaginative talent as well as her well-researched knowledge of wildlife and landscape of Ice Age Europe.
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on 19 June 2010
I bought the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' and raced through it, and I'd been looking forward to this one for some time. It starts a bit slowly, but unfortunatly never quite clicks into gear, and is not a great follow up for the first one. As has been mentioned before, Ayala is a bit too perfect, and her perpetual discoveries of everything stretches the imagination. It's an interesting read but not a griping one, and I found myself wishing to get to the end in order to read something else and I'm not convinced I'll be going much further down this series.
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on 21 February 2010
- I can only assume that Jean was going through a bit of a dry-spell when she wrote this book because she does seem rather obsessed with one aspect of Jondalar's physic... Perhaps male authors have and do obsess and get overly descriptive about the female anatomy so this is pay-back. And perhaps Dr Freud could say something about my state of mind for remembering this to be an over-bearing feature of this book, but for me it was OTT.

I found the book to be not as good as Clan of the Cave Bear, most of what I could say has been said already, it is a book of 2 halves etc. I found the discoveries of both the brothers and Ayla to be fascinating, the series is about putting you into the age and environment which is very well captured but perhaps the same information/detail is not required over and over again. I am in 2 minds about buying the 3rd and continuing.
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on 17 March 2008
You know, books are funny things. Much like people, they often start out creative, imaginative and adventurous, but inevitably they stray down safer and more predictable paths as they get older. Such is the case with The Mammoth Hunters, the third entry in the Earth's Children series. It still manages to drive the narrative forward, but it chooses to use the tired cliché of a love triangle as the core of its story.

Now, let me clear something up before we continue - I'm not dead against romance novels. Admittedly, the genre has been used and abused more than George Bush's executive authority over the years, but it can still be used to good effect, provided it's not allowed to overshadow everything else. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens here, and an otherwise good book suffers as a result - a bit like an Olympic sprinter trying to win a race with a dead manatee on his back.

Following on directly from The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters kicks off with Ayla's reintroduction to the world of the Others. Welcomed into a tribe called the Mamutoi, she soon sets about impressing people, making friends (and enemies), saving lives and generally proving how awesome she is at every opportunity. After all, it is Ayla. However, all is not well. Her fragile new relationship with Jondalar is showing the strain, and when she drunkenly gives in to the advances of an amorous artist, a severe bout of jealousy sets in and he promptly dumps her. This chain of events is likely to hit particularly close to home for anyone who spent a couple of years at university.

It's a shame really that the rather tedious love triangle overshadows what is otherwise quite an engaging and interesting book. Watching Ayla gradually adapt to human society after growing up with the Clan and spending years in isolation is a fascinating experience, and is almost enough to support the book in its own right. But not quite.

The problem with the romance angle is that previous objections aside, it's not particularly well handled. The whole love triangle feels forced and contrived, and everyone involved behaves in such an immature and oblivious fashion that I actually didn't care who Ayla ended up with. Neither Jondalar or Ranec distinguished themselves, while the normally perceptive Ayla seemed to be wearing her stupid hat for most of the story. Likewise, supporting characters who could potentially have resolved the whole thing with a simple explanation are inexplicably silent throughout the entire debacle. Normally I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to author intrusion, but when the plot manipulation is this thick it becomes kind of hard to ignore. It's a bit like coming home to find a walrus in your living room, but you're the only one that can see it.

As far as supporting characters go, they're all pretty much cut from standard templates. There's the elderly mentor type, the sickly child with wisdom beyond his years, the stern but well-meaning leader, the caring motherly character, the insecure girl on the verge of womanhood (insert your own `Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman' reference here), and the troublemaker who comes good in the end. No great surprises. Still, they're mostly quite well executed, and the book's unusual setting injects a bit of freshness into the otherwise tired archetypes. The plot even summons up a few surprisingly poignant moments toward the end, reminiscent of Clan of the Cave Bear's triumphant climax.

The Mammoth Hunters has received a lot of deserved stick over the years for the aforementioned love triangle, but overall I'd rate its story as one of the best, mainly because this is the last book in the series that's genuinely fun while retaining the raw, unforgiving edge of its predecessors. In a sense, it's the high water mark for the series before it began its descent into mediocrity and tedium. Also, it marks the end of Ayla's transition into a fully developed member of human society, so in a sense it ties up most of the major plot arcs from the end of the first book.

For this reason, I reluctantly give it four stars out of five. I was really tempted to give it three, because the love triangle drags it down so badly, but I feel that the rest of the book more or less makes up for these shortcomings.
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In the third installment of the Earth's Children series Ayla finally gets to meet more people of her own kind (the Cro-Magnon race she calls the Others). Spending the winter with Jondalar and the Lion Camp of the Mamutoi Ayla learns about the differences between the Others and the Clan (Neanderthals) she was brought up by. Although she suffers from prejudice from those who believe the Clan who raised her are nothing but animals she also finally finds acceptance and a sense of belonging. When the handsome carver Ranec shows an interest in her Jondalar is overcome with jealousy and Ayla is forced to make a very difficult decision. Should she stay with the people who have made her so welcome and mate with Ranec or should she leave with Jondalar and make the difficult journey to his homeland?

Although it isn't my favorite book in the series I still thoroughly enjoyed The Mammoth Hunters. I absolutely loved the Mamutoi and finding out about their way of life and also enjoyed watching Ayla interact with a group of people for the first time. Although not all of the Lion Camp are willing to accept her because of her background some of the camp go out of their way to make her feel welcome and we are introduced to some great characters. My favorite would have to be Rydag who is a child born of mixed spirits who was adopted by the mate of the camp leader. Nezzie is such a caring woman and her love for Rydag is heartwarming to see but watching the rest of the group grow to care for him after Ayla teaches them to communicate with him was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Another character I fell in love with was the newest addition to Ayla's animal family. I'm not going to say more because I don't want to spoil it for you but I defy you not to fall in love with him! His interactions with the rest of the camp and particularly with the horses made me laugh out loud and were great fun to read about.

I have to confess that the love triangle in this book drives me crazy. Although Ayla's behaviour is understandable because of her upbringing I could almost strangle Jondalar at times. He is so jealous of Ranec that he can't see straight and you want to bang his and Ayla's heads together and make them have a simple conversation that would quickly resolve everything. By the end of the book I'm almost ready to give up on him completely and hoping that Ayla will stay with Ranec and the Mamutoi! I am happy with the way things turned out in the end though.

A common complaint about this series is that Ayla is a little too perfect and that she and Jondalar seem to invent nearly every advancement made by humans throughout the Ice Age. I'll admit that this does seem to be the case but I can easily forgive this because it allows us to see in detail how these advances probably did come about. If you suspend belief that it was all discovered by 2 people I'm sure you'll find it just as interesting as I do. Another negative comment I've seen several times is the amount of detailed description Jean M Auel goes into but for me this is one of the positives of the series. She has obviously put in a great deal of research about the era and as it is something I knew practically nothing about before picking up her books I find it fascinating to read about. Some things do get a little repetitive throughout the series but I don't really find that a problem until we get to the fourth book in the series The Plains of Passage. Overall this is still an all time favorite series of mine and one I would highly recommend.
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