The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children) Paperback – 1 May 2003
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Jean M Auel's The Shelters of Stone, is the latest title in the Earth's Children series--undoubtedly one of the most celebrated works in publishing history--and includes The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters and The Plains of Passage. Each of these books enjoyed long runs on the bestseller lists across the world and have sold more than three million copies in the British marketplace. There are 28 foreign language editions of Auel's books in print and 34 million copies have been sold worldwide.
The Shelters of Stone continues the story of Ayla who lost her family to an earthquake and was raised by the people who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. She arrives in the land of the man she loves, but his people are wary of her and think of the Clan who cared for her as animals that resemble people and who are not much smarter than beasts. Ayla has brought with her two horses and a wolf over which she has uncanny control. Ayla vows to learn from the Zelandonii and hopes, in turn, to teach them. She is particularly pleased to meet the spiritual leader of the tribe, a fellow healer with whom she is able to share medical skills and knowledge. But Ayla's greatest problem is to convince her new hosts that she is from a tribe of human beings, not the subhumans they are regarded as. And when she gives birth to her eagerly awaited child, she is forced to accept that she and her child will have to play a very significant role in the clouded destiny of the Zelandon.
Auel is particularly sharp in her characterisation of Ayla, the woman who is foreign and strange in this new land, and her heroine's clashes with her new-found people are handled skilfully. The reader is immersed in another world, one whose every detail is skilfully evoked, while the writing has all the colour and vividness of Auel's previous books.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Jean Auel's greatest achievement is to have created a plausible primeval community where men and women love and sometimes hate, and learn to survive in a harsh environment that demands rules and co-operation. (Daily Express)
A Stone Age sensation. Auel vividly brings to life a forgotten world. (Coventry Evening Telegraph)
Meticulously researched . . . fascinating . . . course-by-course menus for Upper Paleolithic blow-outs . . . that Joanne Harris might envy. Jean Auel is as remarkable a figure as J R R Tolkien. (Independent Magazine)
Jean M. Auel has meticulously researched her subject and this latest book should continue the huge success of the series. (Hello)
As always, Auel has meticulously researched her prehistoric subject and this latest offering is a triumphant continuation of the saga. (Irish News (Belfast))
Massive in scope (Daily Mirror)
Impeccable research makes this much more than a fantasy reconstruction of prehistoric life. (Daily Express)
Bursting with hard information about ancient days and awash in steamy sex . . . Auel's latest will not only please her legions of fans but will hit the top of the list, pronto. (Publishers Weekly)
Enthralling, exciting and impossible to put down. (York Evening Press)
A rewarding read. A brilliant work of imagination (Good Book Guide)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
smashing novel by Jean Auel,. Part of a set of 7 books so far and research is excellent and very credible.Published 13 months ago by Rosie