Sunday, 20 March 2011

I've never read anything by...

A copy of Jean M. Auel's 'The Land of Painted Caves' arrived in the post yesterday and it suddenly struck me that I've never read any of these books at all. How many books are there in the series? What am I missing out on? Am I missing out on anything at all? I'm hoping you can tell me... All I know is that whenever these books are mentioned on-line someone invariably says 'Mary Sue'... I don't know why.

The very short blurb that I found runs as follows...

THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES concludes the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni – one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers.

Short and to the point! Can't say that it's sold me the book though...

Comments please! :o)

13 comments:

Matt Leon Sterling said...

The first few are excellent if you're at all interested in a semi-plausible account of prehistoric life.

The first, Clan of the Cave Bear, deals with orphaned Ayla being adopted by a Neanderthal family. Valley of Horses is the second, as she meets Jondalar (a man of her own species) and they fall in love; this one is ok, but not great. The third, Mammoth Hunters, is a compelling look at a far north community living in the shadow of glaciers through the winter. The fourth details survival on a long cross-country journey to Jondalar's people. The last one I read was the fifth, Shelters of Stone, which was with Jondalar's people, but not really worthwhile. I've heard the same about this new one, the sixth... repetitive and plotless.

So yeah, I'd read 1, skim 2, then read 3 and 4, stopping there and making up your own ending.

They do have some repetition... lots and lots of sex, lots of Ayla being a superwoman by making tons of new discoveries, lots of repeated conversations... but the world-building is awesome. Give it a shot if you think prehistoric fiction might be interesting!

Val said...

This is the sixth and final volume. I've read the previous five and personally I think the only one really worth reading is the first.

After that, the main characters Ayla and Jolandar are just too perfect in every way. Together they represent abut 20,000 years of human technological progress. Some people also dislike the fact that books 2-5 include quite a bit of graphic sex scenes. Auel did some amazing research pre-historic live to write these books though. I have to give her that. I plan on reading this last volume myself, just to finish the series.

Megan said...

There's books are truly terrible, albeit in an almost entertaining way. The protagonist Ayla, is the epitome of a Mary Sue. She has pet tiger, and she's super beautiful, and she's good at everything, and at one point she actually invents the sewing needle... And don't get me starting on the many (many, many) sex scenes....

Adam Whitehead said...

Six books. They suggest that there was a lot of sex going on in the stone age (as I guess there probably was). The term 'guilty pleasure' seems to come up a lot in relation to them.

Carmen said...

I've friends who rave about these books but like you, I've never read anything by the author, wouldn't know where to start and am not totally sure I'm sold enough to find out.

tomlloyd said...

I read the first few years ago and remember enjoying them at the start, but as I moved through the series the writing got worse and I got older and had higher expectations. I think there are many more series you'd do better starting than this.

martin said...

The first book in the series, Clan of the Cave Bear is enjoyable light reading, but after that it goes down hill rapidly, Ayla the heroine is responsible for just about every single invention known to prehistoric man by the 4th book where I stopped

Anonymous said...

I've just started reading the series and I'm to book 4 (there are 6 in total). I think you need to start from the beginning to understand the story. Yes, the main characters are impossbily perfect and Mary Sue-ish
I happen to like the series so far, but looking at the stuff you like to read, this series is so not for you. I like historical fiction with romance. The sex scenes are quite graphic if that makes you squirm, well again not for you.
That being said, I'd love to get your copy if you are willing to part with it!

Jennifer

Bibliotropic said...

I've heard from a friend that the series is fantastic, but I've never read any of the books myself, so I really can't say one way or the other. It seems to me that the books are ones that people either love or hate, with few people taking a middle ground.

Gabriele C. said...

Ayla got a pet cave lion, not a pet tiger, but yeah, she's very much a Mary Sue who singlehandedly invents anything from better flint stone techniques to the computer. She's also a healer who can cure pretty much everything with her herb concoctions, including, I suspect, male hair loss. She's totally kickass with a sling which she uses to bring down everything from rabbits to mammoths. And in between she also has time for a lot of sex with Jondalar, the Sex God (one of his jobs is to deflower virgins with his woman-maker - yes, it's called silly names like that).

I finally gave up a few chapters into the fourth book.

Claudine said...

I agree with Matt, read the first, skim the next and read / skim through the next 2.

She researched her topic most thoroughly and I found that while the day to day interactions between all her characters are very repetitive and mostly boring, I was totally engrossed in her descriptions of how primitive peoples lived and what the scenery must have looked like.

Out of them all, I think Clan of the Cave Bear and Mammoth Hunters are probably the best written out of the first 5.

I will probably buy this one as I have the previous 5 and there's nothing I hate more than not having a complete set in a series.

Aoife said...

I have read the first book and quite enjoyed it (though nothing so awesome that I need to read it over and over again) but after hearing so much about the later books and how Ayla turns more Mary-Sue-ish etc. I didn't pick up any more.
But the first is really enjoyable and you notice that quite a lot of research has gone into it.

Vicki said...

Yes, I agree with many of the above comments,and as with most book series the story lines can get monotonous at times and you skim over those bits,however I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Earth's Children series anyway. It has been many years since I started reading them, so have decided to read them again before reading the final book.