Earth's Children series by Joan M. Auel

Until now, five books of this serieshave been published: The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, The Shelters of Stone.

How I found these books

There was a film made of the first novel in 1985. I watched it when I was about ten years old, but I didn't like it then, I suppose I was too young. Some time ago, I went to our local booktstore looking for an English book, because I like to reas books written in English. By change I had a closer look at "Shelters of Stone". I didn't know then that it was the fivth book of a series. I remembered name Ayle from the film and thougt that the book might be interesting. So I bought and read it. I was very fascinated by that book and decided to buy the other ones, too.

These are the summaries from the backcovers of the books:

The Clan of the Cave Bear

A natural disaster leaves the little girl Ayla wandering alone in the dangerous land of the Ice Age until she is found by a woman of the clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly - she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the way of the Clan and Iza's way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destinied to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He developes a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

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The Valley of Horses

Cruelly cast out of the Clan that adopted her as achild, Ayla leaves those she loves behind and travels alone throug a stark, open land filled with dangerous animals but few people, searching for the Others, tall and fair like herself. The short summer gives her little time to look, and when she finds a sheltered valley with a herd of hardy steppe horses, she decides to stay and prepare for the long glacial winter ahead. Living with the Clan has taught Ayla many skills but not real hunting. She finally knows she can survive when she traps a horse, which gives her meat and a warm pelt for the winter, but fate has bestowed a greater gift, an orphaned foal with whom she develops a unique kinship. One winter extends to more; she discovers a way to make fire more quickly and a wounded cave lion cub joins her unusual family, but her beloved animals don't fulfill her restless need for company. Then she hears the sound of a man screaming in pain. She saves tall, handsome Jondalar, who brings her a language to speak and an awakening love and desire, but Ayla is torn between her fear of leaving her valley and her hope of living with her own kind.

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The Mammoth Hunters

Riding Whinney with Jondalar, the man she loves, and followed by the mare's colt, Ayla ventures into the land of the Mammutoi - The Mammoth Hunters. She has finally found the Others she has been seeking. Though Ayla must learn their different language and customs, she is adopted because of her remarkble hunting ability, singular healing skills and uncanny fire-making technique. Bringing back the single pup of a lone wolf she has killed, Ayle shows the way she tames animals. She finds women friends and painful memories of the Clan she left behind, and meets Ranec, the dark-skinned, magnetic master carver of ivora, whom she cannot refuse - inciting Jondalar to a fierce jealousy that he tries to control by avoiding her. Unfamiliar with the ways of the Others, Ayla misunderstands, and thinking Jondalar no longer loves her, she turns to Ranec. Throughout the icy winter, the tension mounts, but warming weather will bring the great mammoth hunt and the mating rituals of the Summer Meeting, when Ayla must choose to remain with Ranec and the Mamutoi, or to follow Jondalar on a long journey into an unknown future.

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The Plains of Passage

With her companion, Jondalar, Ayla sets out on her most dangerous and daring journey - away from the welcoming hearth of the Mammoth Hunters and into the unknown. Their oddyssey spans a beautiful but sparsely populated and treacherous continent, the windswept grassland of the Ice Age Europe, casting the pair among strangers. Some will be intrigued by Ayla and Jondalar, with their many innovative skills, including the taming of wild horses and a wolf, others will avoid them, threatened by what they cannot understand; and some will threaten them. But Ayla, with no memory of her own people, and Jondalar, with a hunger to return to his, are impelled by their own deep drives to continue their trek across the spectacular heart of an unmapped world to find that place they can both cal home.

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The Shelters of Stone

Ayla and Jondalar have reached his home at last: the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, the old stone age settlement in the region known today as south-west France. Alya has much to learn from the Zelandonii as well as much to teach them. Jondalar's family greet him warmly, but are initially wary of the beautiful young woman he has brought back, with her strange accent and the tame wolf and horses. She is delighted when she meets Zelandoni, the spiritual leader of her people, a fellow healer with whom she can share her medical skills. After the rigours and dangers that have characterised her extraordinary life, Ayla yearns for peace and tranquility; to be Jondalar's mate and to have children. But her unique spiritual gifts cannot be ignored, and even as she gives birth to their eagerly awaited child, she is coming to accept that she has a greater role to play in the destiniy of the Zelandonii.

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Why I like these books

In these books stone age is living again. Joan M. Auel discribes Ayla's world so lively, it is very easy to imagine being with her and understand how humans lived. The stone age way of live, the rituals, the hunting and the personal problems are shown very graphically and their living is much easier to understand than in any specific book.
The descriptions of landscape, shelters, etc. are sometimes a bit too long and detailed, but you can skip them or read them fully as an assistance to imagine Ayla's world.

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