Monday, January 17, 2011

Arriving Soon: The Newest Book in the Earth's Children Series

On March 29, 2011, Jean M. Auel's latest novel in the Earth's Children series will be released. Entitled, The Land of Painted Caves, this book continues the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their daughter Jonayla. Auel's website calls it "the culmination fans have been waiting for." As Auel is now about 74, this quite likely will be the final book in the series.

Waiting for? To me, waiting for is a phrase that I measure in units of months - a year or two at maximum. This series has been over three decades in the making! Now, I didn't read The Clan of the Cave Bear in 1980 when it was released but I did begin the series several years ago concluding with Shelters of Stone in 2002 when it was first published.

Don't get me wrong. I loved this series. Exceptionally well written and researched with great characters and a prehistoric storyline. I do feel now like I may need to go back and re-read the series in order to get prepared to enjoy the story in context again. This is a big reading commitment as the novels are quite lengthy. And what if I'm let down? Should Ayla stay where I want to remember her?

I'm apprehensive because of the last great series that I loved (-ish )by Diana Gabaldon. I adored Outlander through the Drums of Autumn (the first four books in the series) and felt that was where the series should have concluded (In fact, these four novels are amongst my favourites and I would most happily reread them). I limped through The Fiery Cross and although I purchased A Breath of Snow and Ashes, I have never had the energy to open its cover. I really lost the Jamie -Claire magic and could not find chemistry with the idea of furthering the story through their daughter, what's her name. I was also quite exhausted trying to remember back to all of the intricate plot twists with the multiple time lines, the genealogy... as a reader, I knew it was time for me to move on - or I guess to actually stop- and keep these characters intact with my own conclusions.

However, I have to say that I found all of Auel's books to be strong, each building on the story while adding a new dimension to engage the reader. Auel's site allows you to read the first three chapters of this latest story as a preview. I'm going to read through those 51 pages to see what my recall is like almost a decade since I last met up with Ayla and Jondalar, or, to see if I feel that I may be able to read and enjoy this story for its own merits.

Here is a quick overview of the series. I really did enjoy reading them and have faith that Auel will deliver once again.

1. The Clan of the Cave Bear 1980

2. The Valley of Horses 1982

3. The Mammoth Hunters 1985

4. The Plains of Passage 1990

5. The Shelters of Stone 2002


Espana said...

In "The Land of Painted Caves," author Jean Auel concludes her "Clan of the Cave Bear" series. This novel features a sort of prehistoric Grand Tour, with Ayla, the First Among Those Who Serve, Jondalar, their daughter, Jonayla; and various others journeying around the territory visiting various sacred landmarks, particularly the eponymous painted caves. Lots of actions occurs along the way, including hunts, rituals, meetings and so on; as well as the inevitable anthropological descriptions of such things as spear-making or brewing decoctions. Those who were not overly pleased with the level of action in "The Shelters of Stone" should enjoy this novel much more - the level of action and characterization is much closer to that of "The Mammoth Hunters." With the exception of Ayla and Zelandoni, the characters, including Jondalar, were not terribly strong.

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