Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

The Land of Painted Caves
: Jean M. Auel
Release Date: March 2011

(from the cover)What began with the Clan of the Cave Bear continues as Ayla becomes the woman she was meant to be.

(from goodreads)The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children® series, THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors.

My thoughts: I'm going to break this post down in a different way then I usually do because this series is one that is very special to me. So first I will give some overall thoughts then I'll do a review of this specific book. Hang in there :)

So- as I said this series is very close to my heart. I can remember where I was when I first picked up The Clan of the Cave Bear. Book store, JFK airport, waiting for a flight to the Caribbean for winter break with my family. I was 12. I immediately loved these books. That was 15 years ago. I can remember reading and rereading that book. Then doing the same with the subsequent books. I learned more from these books then from anything else. I learned about being alone and finding strength within yourself. I learned about being an outsider and fighting to fit in. I learned about prejudice and hate and how you have to believe in yourself despite the odds. I learned about love and that families can be made of people who don't look the same or believe the same things. I learned about the birds and bees (I learned alot about the birds and bees...)and how finding the right person can heal old wounds and create new ones. I learned about what it meant to be a spiritual person, which is not the same as being religious, and how having faith can help you survive even when you think it's impossible. I learned about life from these books. Which is funny, because they are about people who lived in the ice age. Which I suppose is a testament to Auel's ability to connect her characters to the readers. Ayla and Jondalar could be living down the street and their journey would remain the same. You can find those parallels if you look and Ayla's journey influenced me in many ways. Things like loving horses and wolves, which were already in my wheelhouse and learning to shoot a bow & arrow because it seemed to me that that's all a spear thrower really is, to carrying an amulet to remind me of important moments and people all came from this series and became part of me. These books really became a part of my life and to this day this is the series that I always respond with when asked what my favorite books are. There aren't many series' which I can look back on and recall names and events years after I read them. I can with these books. I grew up with them. I was stoked to get my hands on The Land of Painted Caves and though I loved it, I'm dissapointed that the series is over. I'm hoping that Auel continues to write and that we haven't seen the last of this world and these people who have become something like family to me. If you haven't read them, I recommend you do, they are worth it.

Review: So, now that we've established my love affair with these books I'm going to take a heard look at the final (say it ain't so!) book in the series. You may be surprised at what I have to say, beacuse I didn't love it 100%.

To start, loved it. How could I not? Still there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way. For me, it was the redundancy in this book. I get why it happens, but it's made the book drag in parts. Let me explain. Auel is a master of descriptions. When Ayla goes hunting and she and Jondalar show someone how to make and use a spear thrower, Auel describes it in such detail that you could probably head out to the backyard and build your own. This is part of what makes these books so magical, because you see and feel everything the characters do. It's amazing. The problem is if you are a huge fan of the series like I am and have read them to the point where you already know the information from previous books. Jondalar and Ayla have been using the spear throwers for years, so we learned how they were built previously, and were already reminded in the last book. For someone like me, I don't need to be reminded again. I could probably explain it myself. The same applies when Ayla thinks back on her time with the Clan, or when she accidently ate the root and went into the cave after Creb, or how she trained her horses, or Wolf, or even Baby her lion. I don't need to be reminded of how she and Jondalar found eachother, or Jondalar was captured by Attora, or really any number of other events that are detailed in this book. I don't need to be reminded because I vividly remember when they happened the first time. Still, what if your not as current on these books? If these events aren't fresh in your memory? I'd imagine that for tose people these passages don't drag at all, and are even really, amazingly interesting. So I get why they are there. With gaps between books of 8 years I understand why you would feel the need to recap certain important events that shape Ayla's actions in this book. For me though, they felt cumbersome and I found myself skimming those paragraphs and pages.

To piggy back on that thought. Holy cow. The desciptions. It was all there. I loved the sections where Ayla is training to become Zelandonii. The things she is learning that I'm not familiar with were so much fun to read about and learn with her. I loved the descriptions of all the painted caves and sacred spots. I was especially moved by Ayla's calling and the events that unfolded from there. Loved it all.

Of course I have to talk about Jondalar, because for so long in this series they have been a pair. Again in this book they struggle and it's easy to forget that during the time this book covers these characters are only between 23 and 26 years old. They seem like they should be older and at some points more mature. They have a child who ages from 3-6 and sometimes their actions come across as so juvenile and petty that you just want to hop on into the book, talk some sense into them and hop back out. Then I remember that they are young, they are a new family, Ayla is still an outsider and they have alot of pressures on them. Especially Ayla who is training to be a zelandonii (aka spiritual leader). They are allowed to screw up and make bad decisions.

I really loved Ayla and Jondalar's daughter Jonayla. She was smart and spunky and independent and I specifically loved the moment she stared down a group of men who were trying to hunt her horses. She's exactly how I hope my daughter will be when she is older.

There were a few other things that bothered me. Mostly they relate to the fact that this is being spoken of as the final book in the series. There were alot of loose ends that were left behind as the book reached it's final pages. Things were brought up and then not resolved. I want to know what happens with Brukeval and Madroman now that they have left the Zelandonii. I also want to know where Jondalar and Ayla go know that they have resolved not only their differences, by agreed to care for anohter family as payment for the fight with Laramar. I read an article recently where Auel said that she doesn't feel that Ayla' story is over yet, and that she will keep writing. I'm really hoping that she not only keeps writing, but shares it with all of us. I agree with her, Ayla's story is not over and I for one would relaly like to know what happens next. I don't even mind waiting another 8 years to find out.

Rating Disclaimer:

In the comments the issue of my starred rating came up- honestly, even I questioned it. I just wanted to share what I had to say on the matter:

"On a side note I read and reviewed this book in a span of a few days. I was basking in warm fuzzies of visiting with these characters again. There were, for certain, parts I didn't like and I was dissapointed in, as I noted in my review. Still, I tossed the 5 star out there. I wonder, now that I've had time to reflect, if I wasn't judging based on the good feelings the series as a whole gives me and not the merits of the individual book. I won't change the rating, because at that moment that's how I felt, but it does give a little food for thought on taking the time to really reflect on a book like this where you come into it with a huge bias. "

I've posted more of my thoughts on both the book and my review (and a bit about the discussion) here.


  1. Come talk to us at the AuelBoard!;f=1;t=003105;p=3#000072

  2. Wow how did you get a copy so soon?? Most of us are not-so-patiently waiting for March 29th...

    So did it really seem like an ending? I would have thought the series end would take us to the end of Ayla's life, not just span 3 years.

  3. It definitly doesn't feel like a real ending. There are alot of new plot lines that are opened up and not tied up- but if it ended here I'm happy where Ayla is in her life. Of course I want more though!!!

  4. I'm also curious as to how you got a copy so soon when it won't be released until March? :) I'm looking forward to reading it but not holding out any hope that it will come anywhere near the first couple of books in the series in terms of quality. The SOS was pretty dire, but I'll read the final book anyway just as I am still that bit curious to see how it all plays out!

  5. I saw you logged onto care to share the password for the book 6 forum with people ho don't have an advance copy so they can read spoilers?

    We need: "the name of the woman in the first paragraph of Chapter 25 that The One Who Is First is speaking with."

  6. My poor mom died before the 6th book came out. She was waiting and had given me the books to read...the 5th book she read just before she died even though it had been out for a year...I will read it for myself and in my mom's memory.

  7. Thanks for your review! I can't wait to get my hands on this one...

  8. I waited months to get my hands on this book, and I was highly disappointed. Parts one and two dragged on forever about travel and past events, and then all the real storyline and drama and problems and resolutions were crammed together in the last few chapters. I would have been happy to hear a little less on every painting in every cave visited, to get some breathing room for the end. It almost came off as an after-thought, when the author realized nothing had happened for the first four, nearly five, hundred pages.

  9. over the years ive read and reread this series, always loved it and wished for another book to either continue or wrap it up so i was so excited about this. But sadly i was disappointed too, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs and pages of recapping events from previous books, description after description of cave paintings etc etc...and Ayla and Jon having ANOTHER dramatic fight?? come on, that was done in the Mammoth Hunters and it was as melodramatic then as it is reading about it AGAIN. it felt like the author had run out of ideas or was cashing in on the franchise almost. I enjoyed reading about Aylas promotion and Jonayla, i also enjoyed reading about various events such as the murderer that threatened Ayla and how he was dealt with, the rest just seemed to be borrowed from previous books and was quite frankly - boring :(
    I had hoped to find the author delving into things she had hinted at in previous books, such as the Others trying to trade with the Clan and the complications arising from this, and maybe even Ayla finding her son through this
    I really really hope there will be another one that wraps it up and involves the Clan more because they are wonderful characters to read about

  10. From what I understand it seems like it's almost a crime to rip up these books, well I'm going to do it anyway. Let me note that I did buy the new book and that was mostly to finish the series.

    The problem with Ayla was that she's "to perfect." Yes, many of you can come on here and yell and scream, "Well- what do you know? You haven't read the newest one yet." But let me give you some reasoning behind this:

    Conflicts are to minor. No matter what- except for some very early encounters, you get the impression that Ayla is always accepted no matter what. After awhile people always seem to accept the animals, it eventually doesn't matter that she was raised by the Clan except for the occasional gasps here and there. Her only fault is that she can't sing. Don't tell me that's what makes her exciting, in the first 3 books maybe but come off it- no person IS THAT PERFECT.

    The other faults I have with this story is this, it seemed like Auel could've done a lot more with this. Ayla lost her family in an earthquake, that may be true, but there isn't any distant relatives somewhere at any of these meetings that may have recognized her? And about her son, yes it's very possible she'll never see him again but what about running into Clan members that have heard of her son? For instance, in Plains of Passage, that Clan member heard of Creb- it's very possible that someone out there may be aware of Durc.

    Look, I could go on and on and on about this but I am disappointed in this series and I bet I'm not alone. Yes, rant and rave about my comments but I'll tell you what it's a shame how this worked out and if she does write again, I'll never buy another book about this.

  11. Not sure Jean Auel even wrote this book, not much of her style, except repeats of the other books.

  12. I agree with a lot of the comments here. I grew up with these books. Have read the first 3 at least 5 times each, the 4th and 5th less so. I too feel like I learned about life from them, especially Clan of the Cave Bear.

    The last book was BORING. It was a re-cap. It gave everyone's names and ties so many times I could recount them. It seemed to me (including reading the acknowledgement) that Jean M Auel was really interested in the painted caves and used the last book as a piggyback way to write 500 pages about them.

    It only really got interesting at about pg 500 where the characters became people again, not stereotypes, and really interacted and there was drama and conflict. (Finally instead of hearing about dark looks toward Ayla every 100 pages, something happened).

    I wish that had been the focus of the book, and the caves woven amongst it, not the other way round.

  13. I was also dissapointed with this conclusion to a much loved series. I was bogged down in wet muddy cave after cave. It would be fascinating to visit these caves, but it does not translate into interesting reading. The hints in the last book about trouble brewing with the clan, and the Zelandonii comments about maybe using her to communicate with them, would have been more interesting to follow up on. I think we all hoped for a reunion with her son Durc. The Clan legend about Durc being the one to break off and leave the Clan would have been a wonderful way to bring him closer to Ayla. I envisioned Durc and his mixed spirit mate,and maybe Uba and some of the others leaving Brouds tyranny to start their own cave. Instead we had to create new meaningless characters for Ayla to heal or introduce to her wolf, or show her new fangled spear to, over and over again. The story held such potential to be great, but ended up a sad weary end to years of waiting.

  14. I agree with Bodye. I just finished it, and am SO disappointed. It took 500 pages to get interesting! How many times do we have to read about the paintings in cave after cave after cave (and at one point, re-read what we just read because Ayla went back into one the next day)? And the introductions....shoot me now. Pages upon pages of groups of people introducing themselves. Not to mention, we read how they all thought 'what a strange accent she talks with'.....Every. Single. Time.

    And is anyone else disturbed by that whole Marona/Jondalar affair? That just doesn't sound like him at all! He was devastated when Ayla bed with Ranec, and then he turns around and does the same thing to her? I was under the impression that this was an epic love, and yet at the first insinuation he's with someone else.

    I don't know if I can stomach reading this ever again.

  15. was really disappointed. I so wanted to read about her running into her son somewhere in her journeys. and so disappointed in Jon for coupling with his ex girlfriend when he was so in love with Ayla and also disappointed in Ayla for letting what's his name jump her. If your really so in love with someone you don't want to be with anyone else...

  16. I've been with Ayla since the first book came out last century (!) I'm now halfway through the Painted Caves.

    Oh Great Mother, please no more painted bloody caves! Enough of the Mother's Song already! No more introductions to Wolf!

    I can't remember when I've been so disappointed in a long-awaited treat: it's like being a kid getting up on Christmas morning and finding Santa left you a lump of coal in your stocking.

    Jean, Jean, did you just get bored with your own characters? What happened to plot? So far we are getting told, not shown, which is no way for an author of Jean Auel's experience to write.

    In short, I'm totally disillusioned with the book. I'm hoping to just forget this latest installment, and end it in my head with the good times. It makes me wish Ayla had stayed with the mammoth hunters and made beautiful babies with Ranec, instead...


  17. I am in the middle of this book right now. I ordered it from my local library and it was ready to be picked up on March 29th. I (and many others) have been waiting for this book for a very long time. I read the first book when I was around 18 or 19 and have re-read the entire series a few times. I love these books - BUT - I, personally could do without all the graphic details of Ayla's love life. But that's just my opinion. Other than that, I highly recommend them.

  18. Okay, with most of what you say I agree! Too much with the repeating, not enough of the new stuff. None of the re-kindling with the Clan..I expect more Clan interaction; others learning about getting horses and wolves; more teaching the Cro's about the Neader's and vice versa. Jondalar's irrational beating...c'mon, Jean. What about the dangling Ecozar? Hmmm. Is this a stab to get it on the screen? Even with all the crap, I read every page. smirk---mj

  19. I just want to thank everyone for the great discussion going on here. Sometimes when a book is a bit of a let down the knee-jerk reaction is to get mean with the complaints, and I'm really happy that his hasn't happened here (b/c I REALLY don't like to delete curse laden comments...)

    So let's keep the conversation going. Here is a question for everyone-

    Did you all re-read the series prior to the new book coming out?

    I didn't- and I didn't on purpose. I kind of wanted it all to be fresh and new and in talking to some friends who did reread I think this made a difference. I didn't have those lingering loose ends that some of you mentioned from the previous book in my head waiting to be answered (and therefore wasn't dissapointed when they weren't answered).

    On a side note I read and reviewed this book in a span of a few days. I was basking in warm fuzzies of visiting with these characters again. There were, for certain, parts I didn't like and I was dissapointed in, as I noted in my review. Still, I tossed the 5 star out there. I wonder, now that I've had time to reflect, if I wasn't judging based on the good feelings the series as a whole gives me and not the merits of the individual book. I won't change the rating, because at that moment that's how I felt, but it does give a lottle food for thought on taking the time to really reflect on a book like this where you come into it with a huge bias.

    Anyways- thanks again for the great conversation and keep posting away, I'm really enjoying hearing what everyone else thinks on this book!

  20. UUGH, I just started reading the book and I am already sick of all the reminding of what happened in the past and after reading all of your posts, I am already mad! I can't believe that Durc is never mentioned or seen in this book!! This is what I have been waiting years for! I know I am going to be very disappointed after reading!! =(

  21. I believe that Durc is mentioned in a very secondary, minor way. That part certainly didn't live up to expectations. I'm holding out hope for another book that will finish up that storyline. For all that this was billed as a final book, it felt more like a bridging book between the past books and a final act.

  22. It almost feels as though a crime has been committed against very loyal readers of the series of which I'm one. First of all, having to wait YEARS for the book that was supposed to have wrapped up Ayla's story was bad enough but the book didn't come close to living up to the promise of it. As an artist, I was truly interested and hopeful when I first heard the title. When I actually read the book, I was utterly disappointed and very, very glad I didn't actually BUY it (I got it from the library).

    There's so much more I could say but I'll just close by saying the book was boring, boring, boring and that Jondalar's affair seemed to be abruptly dropped in to add a little spice/tension/drama to the story but it definitely didn't fit. The rest of the story of the jealousy seemed to be a rehash from the Mammoth Hunters - just new names but not a new storyline.

    Perhaps Jean should get into technical writing - writing detailed, boring manuals should be right up her alley.

  23. Am halfway the book.Plot where are you? Even reading other peoples comments about Jondalars affair sounds better than the drivvel I am ploughing through at the moment. And why? Because I was a hughe fan of the first books. it would have been kinder if Auel had killed of Ayla after book four or so.

  24. I don't know about killing off Ayla, but I hear what you are saying regarding the fact that there wasn't a whole lot new revealed here.

    I'm sure others are thinking it, any thoughts on whether Auel age may be effecting her writing? She certainly isn't ancient, but she is getting up there. Perhaps the demands of writing books that are this involved and, well, long, is too much to expect.

    I know personally, I would have prefered to see a much (much, much) shorter book then we are used to seeing from Auel if it meant the story got to the point faster and cut down of the redundency in certain sections.

    On a side note- it would be interesting to see what Jonayla's story could be. Is she the one who eventually meets Durc and bridges the gap between the two worlds, etc.

  25. I, too, was disappointed. But I read the book quickly - page after page, thinking wait for it...wait for it - it's coming - but it never came. I so wanted to hear about Durc and the rest of the Clan. And I believe for Jondalar to have an affair was totally out of character and seemed like a desparate attempt to add some spice to the story and build up to the climax. I hope there's another book to tie up loose ends - the idea about Jonayla and Durc meeting is a good one, I think.

  26. Just finished the book. I agree with a lot of you, non-stop descriptions of painted caves : boring, lack of interaction with the Clan, highly disappointing..Sad but hoping the author will come through with a book to discuss the interactions with the Clan and what happened to Durc

  27. It really seems Auel hasnt got to the point in this final book. Actually, seems like she hasnt really written it, just like a sneak peek about what she has been wondering to settle in the real story, more like a messy script.

    I wont say I´m highly disappointed, as I rather keep my global opinion about all the serie, but I hoped for something more thrilling.

    On the contrary I´m very upset about Jondalar´s behaviour, not only his affair with Marona ( wasnt he so disgusted about Marona in previous books!!??) - though I have to say it is a poor way to give some sparkle to the plot - but also I´m disappointed about Jondalar´s lack of action in this book.

    I´ve always believed Ayla-Jondalar was a synonime of the entire serie, a pair we ended up loving. There´s no couple in this book, no companionship, emotional a romantic feelings. They have showed us how a couple can work out their problems and care for each other with respect as the big word in the formula.

    What had happened? Now we find that they´re like strangers to each other, struggling with day-life in a too much inmature way of thinking and acting.

    I still have a bitter taste and a painful knot in my stomach.

    Anyway, we all should have hope and believe that we could end up having a new book which would take all this deception,so we could encounter finally our beloved pair facing life together and more aware of each other than never.

    Meanwhile I will do as if she had never released this last installment and praying for a new one.

    PD. sorry about the grammar, I´m not native speaker.

  28. I got into this series last year and read the first five books in a month! I've been anticipating this books so much, I could not concentrate on any other book and re-read the series right before the 6th came out!
    I was so disappointed and let down! Most of the book was a repeat! I though we were going to have a great story about Ayla with her new daughter and a new "peace" with the Clan... etc etc. Instead it was monotonous and we barely get anything about her daughter and all this info about painted caves. A couple would've been fine, but seriously there were two special caves in number 5... did we need to hear about a ton more for the majority of the book? And of course every cave was the same.... therfe are no stories in the Elder Legends! I was expecting a twist... like the Clan's ancestors actually painted the caves. LOL. Rant over :-)

  29.'s not finished until she meets could that not happen....?

  30. I skipped the Mother's Song every time it came up. Some time, I'll go through and count exactly how many times it was in there. I agree with so many comments here, especially about the boring caves, the endless introductions and the barely there storyline for the start of the book. Jondalar and Marona made me feel ill, like everything Jandalar and Ayla stood for in my memory was wrecked. Ayla and Ranec was something she was programmed to do, it just seemed incredibly shallow of Jondalar to do it, and totally off character. They barely even shared 'Pleasures' in this book at all, it kind of seemed like the focus was too far off them as a couple. Doesn't mean I don't still love the books, I just don't have the same love for this book.

  31. Same thoughts as previous posters. I was wanting to enjoy this book as much as my favorites in the series, Clan of Cave Bear and the Mammoth hunters. BUT not to be, the affair between Jondalar and Marona was plunked down in the book. It was as though the author said, "time for a sex scene and a tension maker." Not even a good sex scene, by the way. Then we have a revenge affair by Ayla which lowers her in my view. Lack of plot, and (GASP) an ending that leaves it open for another novel. Seems as though the author needed to put another in the series before fans had a riot.

  32. These are my favourite books ever. The final was such a disappoint that I'm trying to forget it. Too many boggy caves, not enough Ayla action. 500 pages of useless discription of the past. The only part I enjoyed was when the members of the mammoth hunters returned. Thoroughly disappointed.

  33. Kate, I loved your feelings exactly.

    I feel that our author was profoundly moved by the ancient artwork she came upon doing the research for this whole series. The Land of the Painted Caves seems to me to be her tool for sharing the awe she felt toward what she saw.

    Now that Jean has done that, I would love for her to reconnect with the characters in the story and give us another book in which she ties up all those loose ends into a pretty and SATISFYING little 7.

  34. I just finished this novel and had to go google: "Land of Painted Caves Review" to make sure I wasn't being overly sensitive regarding my feelings towards Auel's latest novel. I skipped meals to finish the Earth Children's series that I fell in love with when I was 14. I'm starting to think lunch would have been a better option.

    As everyone mentioned, the storyline is incredibly repetitive as readers of this last installment have been following Ayla in all five preceding novels. The repetition was really unnecessary. It feels as if this novel was merely given the stamp of approval by Auel's publishers as a way of filling their pockets. All the other books were re-launched and they're laughing all the way to the bank - apathetic to our disappointment.

    I realise Ayla is a woman of mystery, but we as readers know her better than any Zelandonii, and I really think after decades of loyalty, we deserve answers to questions on everyone's minds: Who are Ayla's people? What happened to Durc? To be quite fair, I was at least expecting Whinney to die - she should be an old horse by now.

    But I suppose if all these questions were answered, we would be complaining about the predictability of the novel. I think I'm just going to focus on the elements of drama that was there: Ayla's calling and subsequent miscarriage, the first 'steamy' sex scene that we were all waiting for, Jondalar finally smashing Laramar's face in, and the beauty of the cave paintings that I only fully understood once I turned to Google Images for a bit of help.

    I do hope that Auel releases another novel - if merely to satisfy the needs of her loyal readers. I do believe she owes us that much.

  35. I feel heartbroken. I too read these books for the first time when I was 12, and now I am almost 37! These books have shaped me and been a part of my entire life, and Auel disappointed me so much that I CRIED MY HEART OUT when it was over. The absolute worst book of the series, and an unbelievable letdown. I wish I had never read it. She could have made it the finest! Whatever was she thinking???????

    Two thumbs down for the most disappointing book I have ever read in my life.

  36. The only thing I can equate Auel's latest novel to, is reading the entire series of Lord of the Rings and after a long and arduous journey, Frodo doesn't throw the ring into Mount Doom.

  37. I have to admit, the numerous descriptions of the caves, making tea, hunting, etc. were tedious at times, but I'm a nerd, and mostly I liked hearing about that stuff.

    The main problem I had with this book is the drama at the end with Jondalar and Ayla. First of all, we hardly ever hear about their relationship during parts one or two, and when we did, there didn't seem to be any problems between them. So, why would Jondalar share "Pleasures" with Merona? He was insanely jealous when Ayla was with Ranec. Also, he is always so happy when she chooses only him for the Mother's festival because he knows that he would be jealous if she chose someone else. I wouldn't think he would be able to stomach possibly hurting Ayla by choosing another woman. He also can't stand Marona and even realized somewhere in the middle of the book that she is out to get Ayla. If he did want to have sex with someone else, why would he choose her?

    Furthermore, I don't see Ayla sharing "Pleasures" with Laramar. She despises Laramar for the way he treats his children. I don't think she would give herself to him just to make Jondalar jealous. It doesn't fit with her personality at all.

    It seemed like Auel added this unrealistic drama so they could rehash the plot in "The Mammoth Hunters." And I also was hoping to see Durc or her family somewhere in this book. Very disappointed!

  38. Jean M. Auel is my hero -- no, more like a god in my literary world, sitting in the Pantheon with Atwood, Alexie, Austen, Homer, Will (whomever he really was) and Walker. Her personal story as an author, her writing style and her ability to weave careful research into captivating storytelling all have inspired me in numerous ways.

    Clan of the Cave Bear prompted me to take my first anthropology class in high school and later major in the field. I fought my husband hard to name our only daughter Ayla (and now am somewhat glad I backed down). And I hope one day to follow the promise of Jean's life and launch my fiction writing career when my children are older.

    To say Book 6 was a disappointment is an understatement, of course. I agree with many of the reviews posted here -- and with the ardent hope of another installment that will keep the promise made by so many scenes foreshadowing a reunion with Durc and a meeting between the two groups.

    I've wondered about several possible causes for such deviation in both Auel's storytelling style and story trajectory:

    * her age ... and possible weariness/disenchantment with the original story as she laid it out 3 decades ago,

    * undue meddling by publisher ...,

    * but mostly, if she has continued to keep up with advances in anthropology and related fields, I wonder if mounting DNA evidence that the two groups never produced offspring (at least enough to have influenced our genetic heritage) threw her for a loop.

    Whatever the reason, I think the analogy to Frodo not chucking the ring is dead on!

    But here's my biggest complaint: How could she "conclude" the series by taking the whole men matter step, immediately pinning it as having sinister implications for the future and then just cut and run?! We can well imagine what Ayla's root-inspired final vision was getting at -- thousands of years of patriarchy, environmental devastation, etc.

    But I want to know more about where Auel's been headed with this 30-year theme. She first introduces the theme of gender roles/power in The Clan of the Cave Bear with multiple references to Clan men needing to keep their women low to prevent them from regaining spiritual power (Iza's ceremonial root being one of the last vestiges of a more equal or even matriarchal time).

    The Mammoth Hunters first shows us that The Others mostly share power between the sexes, and Plains of Passage offers a warning of how destructive it could be for one sex to oppress the other.

    So, what is Auel saying with Ayla's vision of the future? Is "only the son is left" simply a reference to Christ? Or does she intend to imply more? I would love for Auel to have delved further into this theme and taken a stand.

    Faced with the unleashing of male interest in protecting their lineage/influence on species survival, what do Ayla, The First, Kareja and the other powerful women we have met do? Will they so easily give up their freedom at Mother festivals to satisfy their mates' pride? Does Jondular's outburst serve to quell jealousy in others or inflame it? How fast do the Zelandoni wear a path toward patriarchy? Does the idea spread to other groups like the Mamutoi? ... And, ultimately, do their decisions influence the next step in human evolution?

    In this world that Auel has created, what would SHE have them do? After all, as the author, she is the real deity of their universe. That is supposed to be the magic of fiction -- the magic Auel so readily applies in her other work.

    We know what has happened to humanity in reality ... but we cannot look further into our future as Ayla can. I sat holding the last page of Painted Caves in my hands fervently wishing it wasn't -- wanting Ayla and the Zelendonia to discuss the implications of her root-inspired visions and offer another way into our collective future.

    Is that expecting too much of my hero, my literary Zeus? Probably, but, hey, that's what heroes are for ... and my faith isn't entirely shaken, Ms. Auel.

  39. Redundancy. Regurgitation. Who to blame. An aging author? Editor? I feel horrible. Betrayed even, shame on you Mrs. Auel. Years of waiting. For what? I am disgusted and utterly disappointed. Ayla deserves more that what you've given her.

  40. I am still in the process to trying to maintain reading this book. I'm thankful for other readers' reflections on the content of this book, because I was beginning to question the reason for my lack of interest. Reading this installment is like when a friend takes a fantastic trip, and you end up sitting through hundreds of pictures with an explaination for every picture. It becomes flat.

    It sounds like the caves are the central characters in this book, with the characters being the supporting cast. That's disappointing because Auel had a way of writing that made her characters vivid. I will anticipate the plot becoming interesting around page 500 (thanks for the spoilers, not sure if I would have finished it otherwise).

  41. just finished this book and so glad to see i'm not alone in my extreme (!!) disappointment! i could not believe the repetition in this book - not just of previous story points, but the literal repetition of information. umm, ok - i get that i can use every part of cattails from the leaves to make flexible cooking baskets to the protein-rich yellow pollen to the fibrous tip which can be used for stuffing pillows or absorbent padding for diapers or moon times or that you can beat the fibers to make flower that can be made into little cakes cooked on hot stones etc etc etc. the ridiculous part is that this cattail blurb was repeated almost verbatim within 100 pages and that it's not the only section of tedium.

    i loved this series so much - the first 3 books are some of my most beloved!! i have read and reread them countless times. i can not believe how much i skimmed and skipped from this last novel. it felt like a coles notes version of the whole series and the end was a complete repeat of mammoth hunters. it was so depressing to be let down so heavily - could jondalar and ayla really not have had *any* other dramatic conflict? did the roots really need to bring them back together again in the exact same way as before?? god, i wish she just wasted and hooked up with danug and went back to the mammoth hunters. also, jonayla may as well not have even been in the book. plus! did anyone find that wolf had more character development and interest than jondalar? it seems like he had way more to do in this book - even if half of it was descriptions of him sniffing people's hands or instantly befriending enfeebled throw-away characters.

    i think the worst thing about this book though is the whole 'gift of knowledge'. not just because it brings with it countless rehashings of the epic mother's song, but really because it essentially ends the peaceful community aspect of earth's children with hints towards the 'women / children as possessions' future to come. i know it was a heavy burden to wrap up ayla's massive impact on humanity that we've been getting hints of for 1000s of pages - but did her 'gift' really need to be the knowledge that would help enslave women for countless generations?? couldn't we have just had a bridging the gap with the clan? or the idea of farming? or anything else??? ayla was such a strong inspiring female lead - talk about a total downer of an ending. 'but jondalar can be sure because ayla only chooses him'... gee thanks, ayla.

    anyone else feel the same way??

  42. I would like to join the voices of dissapointment with this book. Like most of you, I started reading these books when I was 12.
    Too much cave description, hardly any interaction between the main couple.
    Do you remember Ayla's amulet that held her life force??? Well it sure seems like J Auel forgot about it. As well as Ayla's son and so many other vitally important parts from the other books.
    I came into this book expecting Ayla to freaking invent the wheel and was in tears by the end. So happy to see that I wasnt alone.

  43. I agree with all the comments after starting to read this series when i was 13 and waiting so long for this book I am really dissapointed :-(
    I don't think I need to rehash what everyone has said...

  44. I have plowed one third of the way through this long awaited conclusion to my most loved series, and after reading these reviews I see it's not going to get better, and my growing disappointment is only going to increase. I already feel I can't read one more description of caves, paintings, introduction to wolf, reactions to Ayla's strange accent, ties, etc. I have raved about and recommended this series to so many people, who have loved it as much as I have, and pre-ordered this for them, and almost feel embarrassed for letting them down with this book. I am devastated to read that there is no reunion with Durc, or that there is no follow through on trading with the clan. Like many other devoted readers, I have loved the educational aspects that came as an integral part of a superb story line. However, so far there is little or no plot, just re-hashing and rambling. I may leave the remainder to read until just before the next volume...

  45. I am very dissapointed with this book. It is so boring and too much filler. How many times does she have to write out the Mother's song?

  46. Reading the reviews after reading the book has been therapeutic and entertaining. Grandma wanted to live long enough to read this series but died at book 4. I think she did the right thing.

  47. Agree with every bad review here..I was terriby disappointed with this book. It was incredibly BORING and repetitive. As for Jondalars affair with Marona in the last couple of chapters - it didnt make any sense at all..after telling us all how sensitive Ayla was to nuances in behaviour Auel expects us to believe that Ayla had no idea Jondalar was cheating on her with her worst enemy for months? And then with Marona being so damn would think she would have been more than happy to rub Aylas nose in the affair any chance she had, but that didnt happen either. I thought that whole storyline didnt make any sense at all AND THEN to make matters worse Auel has Ayla shagging the revolting Laramar shortly after she finds out for sure that men create babies?? I mean what the hell - Ayla knows that having sex with Laramar could get her pregnant and she still does it?? How stupid/drunk is she? But then it all ends happily ever after cos they were all drunk, men have insatiable "needs" and Ayla wasn't putting out often enough. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

  48. I was given the first four books in this series for my 18th birthday, just before my A'Levels - not ideal as I spent the next few days unable to tear myself away to do some revision! I even read with a torch under the duvet until I fell asleep with the book on my face. I loved those books, and I loved Ayla. I loved the completely different cultures and belief systems, and the way all the tiny details wove into the story. Auel brought prehistory, and the way people *might* have lived, to life.

    I read those books over and over again, as I waited for the fifth to appear, slowly losing hope that it ever would. Sadly, when it did it wasn't as good as I had hoped. Somehow the Zelandonii were not as three-dimensional as the Mamutoi and the Clan; perhaps with the Zelandonii Auel introduced far too large a group. Still, I enjoyed it.

    By chance I had just re-read the first five books when I discovered the Land of Painted Caves would soon be out. I was excited, but also wary as the fifth had disappointed me slightly. I was right to be wary. The fact that I was able to read this book over the course of a couple of weeks (and had no trouble putting it down to go to sleep), says it all.

    The plot had all but disappeared, and what little was left made no sense, with so many loose ends that I don't feel this book fully resolves the story. For a series that began with such a strong plot this was a huge disappointment. Too many things hinted at, or developed in previous books were omitted, or treated in the most cursory and unsatisfactory way. For example, there was no attempt to explore how relationships between the Clan and the Others might develop, no attempts to establish contact and trade. What happened to the Clan couple Yorga and Guban? The arrival of the Mamutoi travellers and interactions with the Zelandonii could also have played a far bigger and more interesting part in the story. Instead, too many plot devices used in previous books were re-used - the disreputable band of men causing trouble for the caves; the misunderstanding between Ayla and Jondalar; the experiment with the root that goes wrong and the part Jondalar plays in Ayla's recovery.

    Characters were one-dimensional and acted out-of character. Jondalar was colourless and blended into the background. There was no realistic exploration of how his relationship with Ayla might be tested, develop and mature. Instead we have the unbelievable scenario that he has an affair with Marona (so secretive it is sprung on us with almost no warning), and that Ayla (who is so perceptive of body language) completely fails to notice not only changes in Jondalar's behaviour but also in the behaviour of all those people keeping the secret from her. Likewise Ayla's coupling with Laramar (of all people!) seems totally against her nature and core beliefs. Furthermore, their daughter Jonayla is barely mentioned - surely we could have got to know her much better. There is no true sense of how difficult it must have been for Ayla to spend so much time away from her family during her training. Too many new characters were introduced that had no real part to play: I would have preferred more development of the central characters, rather than hearing of neverending introductions to new people who were only in the story for a few pages.

    Too much of the book was devoted to tedious descriptions of painted caves. Too many pages were wasted on repeating information we already knew - I was sick of reading (sometimes inaccurate) recounts of events in earlier books, but even worse was the repeating of information from preceding chapters in the same book. Not to mention the entire repetitions of the Mother's Song. I do not have the memory of a goldfish. By all means refer to preceding events, but do it in a more subtle way, and give the reader the chance to discover connections for themselves.

    Overall, this book was a heartbreaking disappointment. Heartbreaking, because these characters have been so important to me for almost 20 years.

  49. The ONLY thing that kept me from hurling this book against the wall is the fact that I was reading it on my much beloved NOOK. I have rarely been this disappointed in anything in my entire life as I am in this book. What on earth happened? How could her support staff let her publish this? Does anyone know if she's been ill? It begs for explanation. And a refund.

  50. I was wondering that too - did NOT ONE editor or publisher read this before it came out??? Does Auel have some kind of exclusive contract where there's absolutely no editing of any kind? It's been several days since I finished the book and it really does still leave a bad taste in my mouth. I got it through Amazon - I think I will request a refund. Even if she writes another one, I think I'll be too scared to read it! I'll just imagine my own story after Mammoth Hunters...

  51. I agree with all the comments already posted. I was surprised to find inconsistencies with prior books -- for example, Ayla & Jondalar debate having Matagan live with them -- but he was ALREADY living with them at the end of the previous book! Books needed better editing and more focus on people, less on caves (unless pictures could be included in the book so we could see for ourselves).

  52. These comments should be posted to Jean Auel. It is important that she realizes how much she has disappointed her loyal fans, me included. I agree with everything that has been said.

  53. Whilst I wasn't completely disappointed with the book, I can't say that this was my favourite either. I can cope with the repitition of previous books, as this was a constant theme throughout her books.

    It seems like everyone else, i was skipping sections of the book, such as the introductions and the Mother's Song (I nearly missed the new verse due to seeing parts of the song so many times!!)

    I just felt that this wasn't as personal as the previous books, again as most other's have said, this was more Jean's tours of the caves. Generally i love the fact that she has done so much research in to her books, and finding out that she has included real artifacts and event's - (such as researchers finding a neanderthal skeleton who died from their skull being crushed, but also that had a deformed arm and leg, and cracked eye socket - i.e. Creb), but she hasn't fed it in to her writing little by little in this book - it was all done at the beginning.

    I really started to get in to the book once i realised that Ayla was going to be called. It finally felt that I was reading an Earths Children book. I loved the ups and downs, and I actually enjoyed reading the whole thing about Jondalar and Marona (I'm not saying I liked it, in fact I was angry with him for day's after finishing the book!!), but I just thought that it related to normal life, and even though it was a bit of a repition of Mammoth Hunters, there were completely different reasons behind both.

    A lot of people questioning why with Marona, and i would have thought it was pretty obvious (and it's also explained later that she was the only one that made herself available), but it had to be someone that would affect Ayla. I don't think there would have been the emotion from either the readers or the characters if it had been just anyone.

    I think this more came as a shock due to the book being so mundane beforehand.

    It's just a shame that it all seemed so rushed towards the end, i believe that someone else said that she almost seemed to get near the end of the book and realised that she hadn't even started her storyline....

    I really REALLY hope that it was a bit like the Plains of Passage - a filler that was neccessary to get to where they were going (in this case, Ayla's Zelondonia journey), and that another book will be published

  54. So sad. I am up to page 613 and I think I have to stop. I'm am so disapointed in this book. The series has been instrumental in my love affair with the written word and I rejoiced when I found out that this book was coming out. It is as though the author has lost touch with what made this series so wonderful - the language, the love, the lust, the land and the learning. I don't feel I will ever be satisfied with this series now. I feel that I am grieving for the loss of something which could have been so colourful and spectacular, but turned out to be bland, disapointing and disturbing.

    Bring back the strong and beautiful charchters from the previous books and feed your loyal fans no more of this one dimentional travesty of a finale!

    - KS

  55. I came late to the series. I was 25. But from first read, I loved them. My daughter is named Ayla Danae. Seriously. So, I'm glad Ayla didn't die, because that would have been kinda hard to explain to my 3yo. However, this book was disappointing for two major reasons. One, it took 2/3 of the book to get going. No, I don't want to read all of that stuff over again with no plot advancement, thank you very much. Two, I really, really hoped for an epic ending...something, anything that brought closure between the clan and the Others. Nothing. NOTHING. Not a damn thing to close it up other than a picture on a wall of the Others killing a man of the clan, that Ayla obviously didn't recognize for what it was (wtf!) and the revelation that they come to the cave sometimes. No epic battle between brothers, no epic ending, no interaction, no interpreted conversation, ... ... no clan. I was so deflated and let down. The epic ending was an epic fail.

  56. And OMG Marona!!!!!!!?????!!!! (I will not elaborate further to avoid losing my self-control.)

  57. I agree with every comment! It did not seem like Auel even wrote the book! There is NO WAY no matter how busy Ayla was that she wouldn't have know something was up with Jondalar and suspected he was getting together with someone else on the side (Marona). I also thought it was very strange that they were debating having Matagan stay with them when I thought in the last book he was already with them.
    So many characters were introduced but nothing happened with them. When I read about the femaile apprentice (Norova?) I thought something might happen with her and Jondalar but she never even moved to the 9th cave!
    In any case, I was just crushed about this book. I think I will just write my own ending and forget all about this book!

  58. Incredibly disappointed, followed the development of this series from its release all those years ago and have to say im pretty sure i could have found a more interesting story about the exact same thing just watching a documentary about the people and environment of ice age france.

    The book was literally cave, cave, cave, description of plant, cave, introductions (what an odd accent) cave, cave, wolf replaces Jondalar, cave (500 pages later) Ayla gets called!! something finally starts happening, oh but wait never mind queue book 3 being re read.

    so many loose ends and nonevents, i was expecting sooooooo much more from this book, and even started expecting thing to happen that i thought the whole series had been hinting to all these years. ie:
    1. Ayla meets Durc, or failing that we hear something about him even if its an offhanded statement by a random person who is introduced to wolf then just disappears forever.

    2. Brukuval (sorry if i got that wrong) beats the shit out of Jonda on his random long walks that are entirely pointless, failing that at least he doesn't go running off into the wild shouting the same thing he has been since his into to wolf and nothing more happens....OH WAIT that exact thing just happened, damn.

    3. Madroman tries to rape Ayla or does something other than run away crying without a fight. I would have been interested in a triple threat showdown from madroman, marona and brukuval trying to get some revenge on the happy couple.

    4. Something else happens that revolutionises civilisation not the invention of soap operas with the whole men make babies with their essence thing. Perhaps Jonda even made that freaking boat he said he was going to, but no nothing.

    5. A horse

    6. Ayla or Jonda

    7. Someone close to them dies!!!!

    8. some sort of real plot development unfolds and has a real impact on the story not just filler for more caves.....NO

    god i hope this book was a prequel to the 7th book where everything comes to a logical and satisfying end with some real drama not just a caveman romance novel, i mean hell it was even set in France.

    i apologise to any i offended and for ranting a little but i needed to get off my chest just what a cluster bomb in a maternity ward this book truly was. Feel free to debate and question what i have said :)

    thanks for reading.

  59. I am so glad I'm not the only one to be disappointed! I grew up with these books and actually studied archaeology and early human evolution at university because of them! BUT am crushed. I actually CRIED when I read about Jondalar and Marona getting together... it was just soooo out of character and burst my bubble that Jondalar was the ultimate mate....Actually made me feel like I had been cheated on after a 20 year relationship (slightly sad I realise) and it just wasn't right. Also, after the whole Ranec debacle, they both would have known how they other would have reacted so we wouldn't have had this tense crap again!!
    And so many loose ends not tied up at all.... as many have mentioned, just the lack of plot and so many bloody repetitions.. I could recite the Mother Song now. Felt like padding . I might write the next one myself .sad.sad.sad :-(

  60. I agree with every one, this book is a let down. The other books I could read over and over. This had very little plot and lots of repetition. I am disappointed and sad.

  61. 21 years to produce two of the worst turkeys I have ever had the misfortune to read. I swore after the last pile of garbage that I wouldn't bother with this, but I picked one up for £1 in a charity shop 3 days ago (that should have been enough of a warning so soon after publication). Incredibly, the author has surpassed herself. 700 pages of verbal compost. I ask again. What has this woman been doing for 21 years? She must have knocked this out in 3 weeks.

  62. Wowzers- I don't check this thread for a week (Silly Graduate School Finals) and you guys have posted a ton of stuff!

    I have to say that while I'm dissapointed in the book itself, I am glad to see that I wans't alone in that dissapointment. I wish we were all together cheering about how fabulous it was and how sad we are that it is over- but what can you do.

    As someone pointed out, I definitly appreciate the fact that Auel really went and visited the caves she writes about. I hate when authors make stuff up and then it is totally inaccurate- still- I think she wanted to share her awe of what she saw. Unfortunatly that doesn't carry over well onto the page. Maybe having some drawings/illustrations accompanying some shorter definitions would have worked better.

    Another thought is, that while this book, written as it was, would be a bit of a dissapointment regardless- do you think that the fact that it was billed as the LAST book of the series makes it worse? I do. I look at all that was left unresolved and really get annoyed. If I knew that another book was coming, I think I would still be dissapointed, but I'd be willing to hold out hope for a proper ending.

    As for some charecter mentioned that we wish would have gotton some more playing time- I can't agree more with the ones mentioned.

    From the little we see of Jonayla I already loved her. Especially when she held off the guys trying to kill the horses. I liked that she was a spitfire. I think it would have been awesome to see more of her!

    Same with Norova (not sure the spelling on that-Jondalar's Apprentice)- I think I would have prefered Jondalar to have an affair with her. I don't like that Jondalar had an affair, but really, in that society, it's not totally unheard of. I wouldn't have minded that tension- especially if it came about from Ayla doing training and Jondalar spending long hours working with his apprentice.

    As for a horse (presumably Whinney) possibly dying- I'm not going to lie, as a horse person I would have hated that. Especially what with Ayla suffering a miscarraige. The two probably don't seem connected- but as someone who has a horse and who has suffered a miscarraige, I can honestly say that sometimes your horse (or any pet I assume) is the only one you can turn to in your moments of despair. Frankly, I would have liked to see more of that reaction from Ayla, the going back to her horse when things got rough. The need to escape- I like that independent streak from her- and I felt it was missing here.

    Thanks again for all the great comments- they are definitly making me think about the book more- and there were even some things pointed out that I had forgotten (the inconsistancies from the previous book) that I'm kind of glad I didn't remember while I was reading- otherwise I might have been even more let down!

  63. I have nothing new to add. You have all echoed my every thought and feeling over the last couple of days since finishing the 6th book.

    After investing 25 years to The Earth Childrens Series I thought that we, the fans, would be rewarded in kind with an ending that was in keeping with the first 4 books.

    Very Dissapointing Jean! Sell the rights to someone who still has the passion to deliver Alya's story as it should be.

  64. After finishing the book I immediately turned to the reviews to make sure that I was not being overly critical of this much awaited last book. I see that I am not alone. I am utterly sick to my stomach that Ayla would willingly "share pleasures" with Laramar - how revolting!!! I also was disappointed with the inaccuracies. In book 5 Joplaya was pregnant at the time of her mating yet her son was 3 years younger than Jonayla in book 6. The reunion with the Mamutoi would have made a great subplot but was rushed in the last 100 pages with the Marona/Laramar/clan root saga. When Danug told Ayla and Jondalar that they were no longer allowed to act like immature teenagers I laughed at the stupidity of the comment since clearly Auel realized the stupidity of the rehashed plot yet she still included it. I feel so let down.....

  65. I have read and re-read these books each year since I read Clan of the Cave Bear 20 years ago and (im)patiently waited for this sequel. Now, as I read these comments, I find myself in complete agreement with the majority of them. First and foremost, the relationship between Ayla and Jondalar. No way would Jondalar have anything to do with Marona, knowing what she had done to Ayla. Also, after nearly losing her to Ranec/Attoroa/glacier . . . . and being amazed that she still loved him, he'd just blow all that to satisfy his hormones? Knowing how it felt when Ayla was with Ranec. NO. WAY.
    I have to admit that I've skipped descriptions of caves, haven't read the Mother's Song through once in this novel and stopped trying to keep track of all the new names/relationships. I am bitterly disappointed. This story had so many possibilities. This did absolutely nothing for me except waste my time and I think I'll just ignore the fact that this book was written and imagine my own ending. I'm pretty sure I could do better.

  66. I was so excited when I heard the book was finally coming out. I reserved a copy and picked it up the day it was released. And then the big let down. ZZZZZZZ. What was Jean thinking? And the editors let this happen! I enjoyed all of the previous books and was so looking forward to this one. At first, I thought it was just me but now know that most everyone feels the same way. I think that the movie with Daryl Hannah is better than book 6! Repetitious cave descriptions, Mother's Song, introductions, etc... Where was the editors pencil on this? Jean, if you are reading this, we need a book 7 and as you are in your 70's, please hurry!

  67. I wonder if there is another author who could continue the story as well as Jean A

  68. Kate, I am shocked and frankly appalled that you gave Land of The Painted Caves 5 stars. There is really not one positive review from posters here regarding this book. Are you sure you read it? This book is amazingly boring, repetitive, inaccurate regarding storyline, and incredibly way to long for the content it holds. In what way can you

  69. Most recent Anonymous- I appreciate your thoughts, and I actually already addressed this issue further up in the comments. To recap:

    "On a side note I read and reviewed this book in a span of a few days. I was basking in warm fuzzies of visiting with these characters again. There were, for certain, parts I didn't like and I was dissapointed in, as I noted in my review. Still, I tossed the 5 star out there. I wonder, now that I've had time to reflect, if I wasn't judging based on the good feelings the series as a whole gives me and not the merits of the individual book. I won't change the rating, because at that moment that's how I felt, but it does give a little food for thought on taking the time to really reflect on a book like this where you come into it with a huge bias. "

    Perhaps I should move that paragraph into the review itself so that those who read the review, look at the rating, but don't have the time to read through the discussion that is taking place in the comments can get my full thoughts. Or, perhaps I will do an entire post about it. Frankly I don't do starred ratings anymore for specifically this reason- there are so many factors that go into how a person feels about a book that trying to condense it down to "how many stars?" is unfair to both the reviewer and the reader. In this case, as noted in my comment, the starred rating was tossed out too soon after reading, I hadn't had time to reflect and since no one else had the book, no way to discuss it with anyone. My feelings for the entire series mingled with the actual merits of this particular book and my stars reflected that- somewhat innacurately even.

    I also said in another comment that I did not re-read the preceeding books ahead of this one. I simply didn't have the time. I read Shelter's of Stone when it came out in 2004. Which means I was recalling certain things from 6 years ago. I didn't notice the innacuracies that other's pointed out because they weren't fresh in my memory. Frankly, I'm happy I didn't, I would have been more dissapointed in the book then I was (as many of you were).

    I get the sense from your comment that you are genuinely peeved about the starred rating I handed out. (although comments online are so hard to read sometimes, especially for emotional context) Hopefully I've been able to explain a bit where I was coming from when I actually wrote the review, where that 5 star came from and why I don't feel the need to take it away (although further explaination it was warrented).

    As always- thanks to everyone for commenting and for keeping the discussion clean and civil!

  70. I just spent the past few days reading the book and I must admit I read some comments about it here first. I am not as disappointed as most. I'm glad another book came out in the series and it certainly moved me, just like her other books affected me. I think she is a great story teller and I certainly like her style.

    Thank you Jean from an old (43) year old man in Belgium!

  71. Wow, it looks like im not the only one disappointed. I was really expecting much more of this book than consistant rehashings of other books which although I havent read for years, I recall very well, having loved them. Disappointed that Ayla is to blame for Jondalars indiscretion and later actions (even if she was stupid) and also for the ownship of women later on. I hate that this has been billed as the last book. What about relations with the Clan! I understand she will never see Durc again as she accepted that in an earlier book.

    Whinney shouldnt die either in this book as she is not that old, just a mature horse.

    Having paid through the nose to have this on audio book, I couldnt avoid the constant mother songs that appeared. It became just irritating. Plot was very sparse and I wish I hadnt bothered reading this. I will pretend it finished with book 5.

  72. I just finished the book last night. I'm glad I'm not alone in my feelings, not just disapointment, but confusion. I was incresingly stunned with each and every subsequent cave experience. I thought surely she is not going into this much detail about ANOTHER cave.
    For hundreds of pages personal interactions between Jondalar and Ayla were practically non- existant. I felt like a stranger watching them instead of being a part of their lives. Maybe this was intended to show the deterioration of their relationship... it just didn't do it for me however. I felt Jondalar's betrayal with Marona was out of character, and as others have said, thrown in at the last minute when she realised nothing had really happened in the book.

    When I was almost finished the book, I asked myself "What has actually happened so far..?" I was shocked at how little I could think of.

    This is still one of my favourite series, its one of my favourites and I do thank Jean Auel for bringing it to us, but I remain completely astonished as to how this final book was such a let down.

  73. Thanks Amelia, the word I've been searching for is so easy, but I couldn't get it...yes, I am ASTONISHED that this book was so bad, the plot so disorganized, and contradictory to everything that came before, etc,. I've been a fan since the first book and re-read them all often. Of course I re-read the whole series leading up to the last book and am sorely disappointed. Plot lines are wrong, the first HALF was boring and repetitive, the incidence with Marona unbelievable, the instance with Laramar even MORE UNBELIEVABLE, where was Brukevel's 'revenge' (and Madroman's AND Marona's, AND Larimar's from the very end of the Shelter of Stones). After talking about how Iza taught her everything, no mention of her teaching her daughter ANYTHING, and it's unbelievable that we're expected to believe the so awsome Zelandonia would EVEN think of Ayla as 'First' after Larimar. I don't think Jean Auel wrote this. I do hope a fan author will write a better ending book. And, on top of that, Tremeda has NEVER SAID ONE WORD in the books, and suddenly she's talking and 'getting one over on' Jondalar and Ayla? Where was Lanoga? That was so contrived only someone who hadn't read or loved the series would have written that....SO SAD, SO DISAPPOINTED! 25 YEARS and this is it? BEYOND DISAPPOINTED!

  74. So sad :-( I wanted to cry at first now i am just angry. 8 LONG YEARS!!!!!!! I waited for 8 years.......... i am completely baffled that this book was even released. Who is the editor?? Did they not read the first 5 books??? How in earth could anyone think that this book compared to the first 5. At least with the last one we could imagine that there would be some sort of closure with her and Durc. Or the Clan and the Others. This book droned on and on and on . I cant even say how many times the same references repeated itself. Ok i get it Wolf has scratchy fur and greets people by sniffing their hands. When the Mamutoi came at least then i thought GREAT!!! It's a comin! I just knew with bringing Ayla's past adopted family that it would lead into the meeting and the trading with the Clan. But alas. It was not meant to be :-( So okay i am going to hope and pray that this was not the last book in this incredible series. Ms. Auel. I hope that you will take your fans comments inot consideration. I cant imagine how much time and effort that you put into your books but i think even you know that this was not the way to end a truly remarkable journey of a truly remarkable character. Sincerely, Keeping The Faith

  75. Glad I wasn't the only one! I talked myself into liking the book as I could see it in my mind (making up the missing parts as I went along). But seriously, the description that goes thru my mind is "Its a beautiful cave-let's SING!"

  76. I was horribly disappointed as well, for all the reasons stated above. I won't repeat them because we all have had enough of repetition!! My question is this: Did none of the people Ms Auel mentions in her acknowledgements give her any good advice?? In Clan of the Cave Bear, Ms Auel thanks her daughter for laughing and crying at all the right places. Any laughing or crying done while reading a draft of this book would have told her to junk the whole thing and start over.

  77. Jean, Jean, you're not young and but still alive, SO PLEASE RE-WRITE THIS NOVEL

  78. I, as like many of you agree this final series was DISAPPOINTING, in a big way. Just a thought so many of us have read and re-read the Earth Children Series, I am sure we could have all written a much better final book, we all know the main characters so well, no-one would have known it was not written by Jean Auel, I am not sure she wrote this one either.

  79. Definately some odd results. I hope this is just a teaser and the real book is still coming.

    Nothing made sense.
    Ayla wants to teach Joplaya's Special baby, but ignores her own?
    Jondalar runs off from his friends that traveled miles and miles to get "pleasured" by someone he hates.
    Ayla hates him back so much to "pleasure" with a skank.
    Jonayla can ride a horse bareback at 4 but Ayla doesn't think thats "special" and wants to trade babies with Joplaya?
    Ayla was bossing the leader of the ninth of how to kill a lion, like lions never existed before she arrived?
    Just weird weird weird, and to add the wolf downloaded in the super special sacred cave was just uncalled for. Noting fresh bear paw prints, then there is no bear.. why bother telling us then?? So annoyed, I really wanted another book I could reread like the others. Giving this one away.

  80. I finished reading the book last night, and I have to say I was very disappointed. Much of the book was redundant. The Mother's Song, the formal introductions, etc.

    The character of Jonayla. Hardly anything was written about her. It would have been wonderful to know her better. I felt like she was ignored by her parents somewhat. Don't get me wrong, I know she was loved by them, by at times she was ignored also. It would have been nice to have let Jonayla grow throughout the book. From infant, to First Rites, to having her first child, and her parents being grandparents. I felt sorry for her in this book.

    I think the book should have concentrated more of Ayla showing her people how to domesticate animals, as one reader suggested.

    Also, I think there should have been an reunion of Ayla and Durc. That they somehow found each other. Since The Clan of The Cave Bear, I was always hoping for a reunion of Mother and Son.

    And what got me was Jondalar having an affair with Marona! Of all people to have an affair with! She humiliated Ayla, hates Ayla, and yet Jondalar has an affair with her? When I read that, I lost a lot of respect for him. And Ayla doing what she did? That seemed so out of character for her.

    And the return of her Mamutoi kin. Ms. Auel should have elaborated more on them. To let her readers know what they had been doing, how they were, etc.

    The ending, I couldn't believe how that ended. I was totally shocked by it.

    Overall, some parts of the book were good, but mostly disappointing. I do hope Ms. Auel writes another book, to finish up the loose ends. If she does, I hope she doesn't wait another 8 years or more to do it.

  81. One passage near the end of the book was particularly telling. We are told that Ayla knows that some of the zelandonia don't really believe anymore, so accustomed are they to their own magic. I think that Ms Auel is telling us that SHE doesn't believe anymore -- in her story and in her characters.

  82. Like many of you, I skipped a lot of the first 500pgs. I loved this series as something different, but Ms. Auel apparently has no more ideas! :( For me, I was just so confused on why the characters were acting the way she made them-- it didn't seem like the stuff they would do in accord to the other books. I read somewhere she might be making a 7th? I would say, Go for it, but I hope it turns out better than this one.
    And to be honest, I'm still a little confused on how Ayla's role as a zeladoni would work out? I mean, I don't actually believe in this stuff they talk about, their Great Mother and the Spirits and stuff, but I would have liked a little more clarification on how the whole dynamic between her and Jondalar would work out, to make the whole thing more interesting! Granted, some of my confusion may have come from skipping 500pgs talking about caves and the Mother Song, but still!
    And their child, little Jonayla. Not only would I have liked to see a connection made between Durc and Ayla and her family, I see it as unlikely, considering how much traveling they had done. Didn't Ayla travel for a while before her valley, and it had taken a year plus? If Durc could've left, could he have made it all the way? It would've been nice to see him try! But also, wouldn't you love to see Ayla have another child, to try and bridge the gap that still seemed to be inbetween the two of them at the end? I mean, I totally understand that nothing can be the same, being they both cheated on each other (in the lame name of hormones no less) and Ayla's "Gift of Power". But still, it felt like their relationship was kind of forced, like the last few chapters of the book, like Auel hadn't given time for it to rekindle itself like one would expect (well, at least me).
    No doubt, I will continued to be captivated by Ayla's spirit and Jonde's proposed love for her, but I would've like to see the whole book be not only more succint, but more accurate in accord to the other book in terms of feeling.
    Sorry for rambling on! In the name of dedicated readers, I salute you all for sticking through this series because it took at least 30 years to come through!
    ---Thanks for listening with open ears, and please, critize and add whatever you see fit! :)

  83. I was reading the chapter where Jonde and marona were discovered last night and my hear ACHES!
    I am sooooo angry! HOW COULD HE! I hardly slept last night... i felt so totally devastatingly deceived and betrayed!

    I have so far plodded thru endless descriptions and then he randomly goes off with a woman he despises!!! ARRGH!
    Don't get me wrong... i'm one of the few here who actually have been captivated and found the reading addictive, if a bit slow...
    On a plus note.... this is the first time in the book i've felt the old alive Ayla step off the pages! and as in the first 4 books Auel is making me care and FEEL for these people!

    Generally i feel as tho this book was a rushed project. It has untill now felt as though i've been reading a second or third draft of a novel in the process of being edited and although i'm not for a second going to say that it's a horrid book i will say that it's a piece of unfinished craftmanship i've been reading.
    I LOVE caves. I loved the descriptions of the caves but it did get a bit much and a lot was repeated.
    If she had followed the "plains" recipe and embellished the events along the way making the caves into an in-between i think i would have liked the tour better...
    But it is an important part of the series mythology and the caves had to be there...
    The mothers song was also a bit repetative.
    during her calling i was expecting her (hoping rather...) that she would take a spirit-journey and see her son or a solution to the issues between Clan and the others, but instead she saw what every other animal on the planet knows insstinctively.
    I liked Jonayla. she has spunk and i felt she should have had more time with her parents rather than just being "farmed out" to Proleva all the time....
    Which also brings me to my only issue thru the whole series has been the names of people... why do everybody have to have names that remind me of antibiotics or something?

    I have LIVED these books and been OBSESSED with Ayla's story since i was 12. it taught me soo much about independence and trusting your heart! It has mede me tolerant towards people of different skintones, sexuality and beliefs and it has made me who I am!
    I LOVE these people. I even had a long relationship with a man which started because he looked like what i'd imagined Jonde to look!!!!
    I hope Auel will finish the series with a final book that takes us to the end of Ayla's life in a more dignified manner. this book was below Ayla's worth. we as readers and fans deserve a decent finale....

  84. Wow. I was disappointed from start to finish, and actually get a sense of comfort from seeing all these other devoted fans suffering with me. Nothing exciting happened, and the only thing that did happen was totally out of character, and entirely out of the blue.

    I mean, if she really wanted that stupid, out of character affair to happen - so could have at least built up to it, with issues between them, and even see Marona's attempts to "woo" him. But, no. It just gets lumped on you in the space of a single page, and they manage to have the SAME argument and avoid each other again even though previously they even discussed the concept of TALKING to each other.

    The re-telling of past events was understandable - if boring. BUT AT LEAST TELL THEM CORRECTLY! Come on, if you are going to fill people in on what happened, you have to at least tell them.. what actually happened.

    Loved the books since I first read them, and for me.. they got gradually worse - but nothing could have prepared me for this.

    Where were the characters? I felt like I was just watching a rather boring description of caves, and how to make certain tools and implements out of the environment.. but, the people who made them were not there.

    Jonalya grew up without our even seeing her, and was never with her parents. You hear nothing about the Clan.

    Ugh. Like many of you, this book is being forgotten and is certainly not staying on the book shelf with the rest of the series or I would never bother reading it again for fear of the last book.

  85. I have to agree with all the previous comments, except the ones that express any redeeming value to this book. There is no way anyone who read a draft of this could have said “Oh Yeah, that wraps it all up!” This book is drivel, nothng makes sense. And yeah, did they get all new editors that had no clue as to the previous time lines and storylines of the first 5 books. The six books in this series have over 3700 pages, if the editors had done their jobs from the start (but definitely from the 4th book on) it could have been 2000 pages. This book is just a money grab from the publisher.

    I always referred to the author as “FF&R” (Flora, Fauna and Rock) Auel, because of the oft repeated paragraphs of intricate descriptions of every blade of grass, tree, bush, horse, aurochs, mammoth, steppe, glacier, flint...etc. I guess I will have to change it to “FFR&C” (Cave) Auel. This doesn’t even included the recitation of kinships, horse/wolf greetings, Mother’s Songs, spear throwers, slings, Alya’s strange pronunciation, tea making, flint knapping, basket weaving...etc.

    I read all 5 previous books just prior to reading this mess. Do I misunderstand the concept of wrapping up the storylines? Am I the only one who wanted to know about the Clan...Did they move to a new cave?..Broud’s leadership?..Is Durc forced out or does he become the leader of the Clan or a new Clan?..Durc and Ura? Couldn’t the Mamutoi have more than a couple of paragraphs out of 758 pages? Did Ayla teach her daughter to be a medicine woman? If Ayla is to old to look for Durc, shouldn’t Jonayla do it? Ayla and Jondalar’s enemies (Marona, Madroman, Burkeval and Laramor)need to be resolved better.

    Please Ms Auel, please write just one more book. We need closure! Please don’t feel the need to back reference storylines or repeat all the filler. If someone wants to start reading a series from the last book, well, they’ll just have to buy the previous books to learn what happened.

  86. just finished this long borring mess of a book i kept exspexting to love it right to the last page such a long wait only to be so disapointed i want my money back jean at least you are done stringing us on for the next 9 years ill dream up my own endings to aylas great story thank you

  87. This comment has been removed by the author.

  88. Disappointed and rather hurt! We'd would have had a better story told by a bat hanging in the cave.

  89. my heart was broken by this book. i could hardly move through the world waiting for the resolution that would end the pain ayla (and i) was feeling after she found jondalar with marona. i even skipped nearly 70 pages at the end, scanning frantically for jondalar's name to reappear so the pain in my chest could go away and i could stop crying in front of everyone on the commuter train. i finished the book two weeks ago and still haven't been able to get over the sick feeling in my stomach that jondalar would have an affair with marona. if wondered if it were just my own horrible memories of discovering someone i love with someone else, if that is what made it hurt so bad. jean auel seemed so dismissive of his behavior. so insistent that men have "needs" and we as women need to allow for that, that marona made it "so easy for him" to hurt her and somehow that made it less of a blow. i almost tried to talk myself out of my shock by the end of the story because i have so much respect for jean auel's work. i feel strangely better reading that i am not the only one who was so utterly broken after reading this story. i understand the implications of the mother's song and the shift toward paternalism and i respected being shocked into looking at jealousy and monogamy in an entirely new way -- is it wrong to want a faithful man? is having sex with another person really betrayal? would we be better off as a society if we repressed jealousy and loved freely and without possession? i really did try to remove myself from my social preconceptions and look at the world the way one would in a society before men knew they were essential. it's a fascinating thought. i almost hoped it would help heal the residual pain i still have and the sometimes irrational fear of betrayal in my current perfect relationship. but it wont go away. i went back to read those 70 pages i missed hoping i could find something to help me heal this sick feeling in my stomach, but rereading has only brought a fresh wave of pain. it's like i don't even recognize these characters anymore. or maybe i just don't want to.

  90. Latest Anon- you bring up a good point when you mention taking yourself out of the social norms of today. It wasn't that long ago that men sleeping around and the wife waiting at home was normal. Think about the way the Kennedy's were rumored to have been and that was only a few decades ago. I always felt like Auel was making a point that these people are just not there yet on equality. Why should they be? Why should they be held to standard that won't come into play until the mid 1900's? That being said, Ayla's feelings and the change in the Mother's song are a reflection of we see as socially acceptable today. It's not the whole-hog yet, but it is a step towards monogamy and closer familial relationships.

    Doesn't change the fact that the book is lacking in a million ways, but I think Jondalar needed to stray to make the point that this is a HUGE leap for this group of people. It didn't have to be Marona, but still...

  91. i threw the book in total discust it landed in the cat pan and as far as i am concerned thats right where it belongs what a total piece of crap how could she do this to fans who loved her books who waited all these years for a great ending i dont think she wrote this book at all

  92. Thanks for the review, it is fun to read everyone's comments. Like most of you I truly love this series and it has taught me lots of life lessons so I will always be a fan of Auel's... BUT I agree that book 6 let me down. Frankly I do not believe that Jean wrote the book, at least the first 2 sections. I know her son has been closely invoved and suspect that he had a hand in this book. Anyone else think so? Oh, and there was another plot line that was insinuated but not developed... Laramar's fa'lodge and the foreshadowing of something brewing there was hinted at but then it died... LOTS of material left for a Book 7??? I know I would buy it!

  93. Well, after reading so many bad reviews I am tempted to not read the 6th book and just convince myself the 5th was the last. However... being way too curious to do that I'm waiting for it at the library or charity shop and it will be Skim City when I get my hands on it. Bit sad as with books 2-5 I bought them as soon as I could and devoured them within hours.
    Have to say book 5 was a bit of a letdown and so that is why I have been waiting with this one.

    On the subject of Jon's infidelity, yes it was a "free love" society as per all the previous books but why harp on about his mega jealousy (Ranec storyline, being glad she only chooses him at Mother festivals, only she can "take" him and fulfill him,ahem, always thought that was a bit cringey)
    only to have him get off with someone else in the final book.

    wished she'd stayed with the Mammoth Hunters, Zelandoni people are a bunch of pretentious posers in my opinion.


  94. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, how many times must we here introductions and the Mother's song? I had purchase every book in this series. This book is all fill no real story; maybe she got paid by the word. This was a letdown and a real waste of time and money. Mrs. Auel you should be embarrassed to be paid for such crap! I say re-write it and let us trade in this book…

  95. I had gone back and reread the whole series in anticipation of this final book. The Valley of the Horses and the Plains of Passage have always been my favorites. I will continue to treasure them as a place I can go when my own life becomes hard for me to bear. The heroism of Ayla has always been an anchor for me.

    That said, I find myself grieving for the loss of these wonderful characters that I had come to love.

    Opening to Chapter 32 and reading the horrifying sexual encounter between the despicable Merona and Jondaler was a huge disappointment. But it was surpassed, in my opinion, when Ayla, in a drunken stupor, allows three men to rip off her clothes and the loathsome Laramer to essentially rape her in front of the whole summer gathering. I thought the “Mother’s Gift of Pleasures” was for her honor and that women were “pleasured” my men who had been taught to do so! (Rare thing in this century!) Surely Ayla, having been raped by Broud as a child, would not have invited that, even given her wish to get back at Jondaler. What was Auel thinking? Or was she? There were times I wondered if someone else had ghost written this book. So many of the descriptions and wording was repetitive AND OFTEN WRONG AND INCONSISTANT. Even the wording of the sex scenes was always the same.

    Ayla’s repeated drug-induced nightmare of her two sons crossing a vast plain to meet each other face to face, with Creb interceding to reassure the dreaming Ayla that it had another meaning than the death she feared for them, was obviously meant to symbolize the destruction in time of the weaker Clan. However it did nothing for me, the reader, who longed for a culmination of understanding, as brokered by Ayla, between the Clan and the Others.

    My disappointment is huge. Why Marona? How is it that a man who was reputed to be so in love with “his Ayla” that legends were being told about them throughout all the peoples, would be tempted by a woman as detestable and unworthy as Marona was written to be. Kept wondering if her “well” was deep enough for his huge size. Or had his manhood been shrinking in direct proportion to Ayla’s increased powers??!!!

    In then end, I could not forgive him as easily as Ayla did. And after suffering through all the cave descriptions and enduring the endless Zelandonii rights, I thought we deserved a better excuse from the weak Jondalar than, “I don’t know why I was so attracted to her ...” Auel left me thinking of his character as weak and emasculated and Ayla as forgiving as a Mother Teresa. That’s not how I want to remember these characters. Nor does the depressing thought of the “Mother’s Gift of Knowledge” bringing the Others full circle with the Clan when it comes to an equality and understanding between the sexes in any way fulfill the evolutionary theme of the earlier books.

    So dear Jean, thank you so much for this series, but please get busy and write us one last book with some closure. A series that started with the brilliance and promise of the Clan of the Cave Bear should not come to such an unbefitting end, to say nothing of the heartbreak you have given your devoted readers by not giving us an epic finale.

  96. Does no one else think that Ayla got sexually abused just one more time to finish things off? Let me quote the whole "choosing" Larimar scene.
    "It was Ayla. He watched her dance with several men. She laughed drunkenly. Staggering unsteadily, she broke away from the circle. Three men followed her, their hands all over her, tearing off her clothes. Unbalanced, she fell over in a heap with three men. One of them climbed on top of her, roughly spread her legs apart, and jammed his engorged organ into her."

    This is as far from "choosing to have pleasures" as I can even think of. Was suggestive dancing an invitation? Did she kiss any of them, her acknowledged "signal" to have pleasures? Nope, she was manhandled and forced naked, tripped, and her legs were shoved apart.
    It was a horrifying repeat of the most graphic and terrifying scenes in Clan of the Cave Bear, with exactly the same result. She was blamed. Did she want to make Jondalar jealous? Yes, but I really don't think this sounds like a decision to me. Everyone, even the Zelandoni, seems to think she shares EQUAL BLAME with Jondalar. Jondalar who deliberately chose to have sex with a spiteful woman out to get Ayla for MONTHS! Yes, Ayla getting date raped after miscarrying and finding a woman she hates performing oral sex on her man at their own special spot. But Jodalar had needs, and Morona was just so available and easy. He is just too much man, so he hurts Ayla in the worst way possible. No one is rightly furious with Jondalar, just "exasperated." And of course Ayla forgives him, silly woman getting all hurt and raped. Jondalar can't help himself, and its his right.
    Auel just hates women. It is finally there. She gave us a strong female character just to abuse her and make her responsible for the future subjugation and owning of women. I am so angry at this book I could honestly burn it.

  97. I was disappointed to find that Latie from the mammoth hunters didn't get her own horse. I always assumed that she would, especially since Ayla had told them what to do. I would rather have no mention of her than just that she was mated with children.

  98. I thought the book was very good and agree with the five stars you gave it. There were parts that drug out, but hey, this is a major six book epic. The things I liked: we didn't have to be burdened at all with the graphic descriptions of Ayla and Jondalar coupling that I started skipping over in the last five books. That was a major improvement! Things I didn't like: too many loose ends. Still, quite worth reading.

  99. Jean Auel could not possibly have written such a horrid book. I agree with the great majority of the above criticism. I am heartbroken and, quite frankly, have been depressed after finishing the book weeks ago. I have to say that I was turned off from the beginning when they killed the cave lions. It seemed as though the sacredness of Earth’s Children was lost. Ayla and Jondalar were virtually unrecognizable to me in this book. Quite honestly, I wish I hadn’t read it, because it served only to destroy what was a fantastic, refreshing, and unique story.

    Ms. Auel, your books have been a deep inspiration for me, and have given me much to think about with regard to our evolution; however, after reading this book, it seems as though you’ve become cynical and tired – That you only care about the inanimate creations in the caves, and have no more time for storytelling about the human condition. No more time to create a grand finale that has been intensely awaited by millions -- MILLIONS. Has something tragic occurred in your life to have influenced you so? Do you no longer want to leave this series as your legacy? Please, I beg you, take back the reins, dig deep into your heart and creativity, and REWRITE this book!

  100. Amy

    Your review spoke much more eloquently about the feelings this book has raised in me than my own did. In my review (4th up from yours) dated May 11 th, I too begged Mrs. Auel to write a final and more worthy end to the series. I too have been very depressed about the book and the way the beloved characters were left. I've actually reread the book from Chapter 32 to the end no less than four times. How obsesive-compulsive is that?! My husband just shakes his head at me, but I think I keep hoping I'll find some deeper significance that I may previously have missed. I haven't of course, and I think I've just deepened my own pain. Like you, I wish I'd never read it in the first place.

    Jondalar was no more than one of those life size cardboard characters that you see in movie theaters or convenience stores. Throughout the book, he was propped up on Racer, in painted caves, at hunts, etc. He does not come to life for me until his heinous betrayal of Ayla with Marona.

    Early in the book, in Chapter 9 on page 148, Joharran and Jondalar watch as Marona stares at Ayla with malevolent hatred. Joharren says to him, "You know that if she can, she'll cause trouble for Ayla someday." Jondalar replies, "I think you're right, and it's my fault...." For me, it wasn't that Mrs. Auel wrote Jondalar as having an affair, it was the character she chose for him to do it with. How could she write this great love affair that legends were told of, and then have Jondalar become involved with a woman who he knew hated his Ayla so much? It left me sickened.

    The other thing that I've realized in my rereadings, is that it's the resolution of the matter which is so unsatisfactory. The book wraps up with no real closure. Where was the dialog between Jondalar and Ayla explaining how the whole situation came about? Where was Marthona or the First enlightening Jondalar about Ayla's experience in the cave and how she nearly died from her miscarriage? Where is he made to understand that her use of the roots was an attempt at suicide? As a reader, nowhere did I feel that he understood what he had done. Where were the words of healing? And why, on page 742, does Jondalar at last say to Ayla, in front of Danug, "I never told you how sorry I am about Marona." Danug was an adolescent with a crush on Ayla who was introduced in The Mamoth Hunters. This should have been a private conversation between the two which would have brought healing, and some sort of closure for the reader. But what does Ayla do? She expounds on sex making babies but not love. Go ahead and have sex anytime you want to Jondalar, it's okay with me. Is that worthy of two such epic characters from who I once considered a brilliant writer? Is that the 1960s liberal ideology that Ms. Auel wants to leave with her readers? Ouch! The whole thing hurt me more than Ayla.

    I'd love nothing more than to see a final book written in which Ayla concentrates on being only a healer, and leaves the ceremony and spirit world to the other Zelendonni. Perhaps weakened health from her ordeal would allow this. She could even heal the despicable Marona from something, restoring Ayla to heroic status. She could have a son, and could foster further understanding and broker peace and trade with the Clan.

    Along with my broken heart, I have a terrible taste left in my mouth. Amy, do you or anyone else have a recommendation for another book that will take it away? I just can't read this one again!


  101. I don't think Jean Auel finished writing this book. I think someone else wrote the last 250 pages.

  102. does everyone realize she is 75 yrs old i do not think she wrote this book i wonder if shes suffering from dementia or if someone else wrote most or all of it because she was unable tothe characters behaved totaly out of character where was a authors passionate delight in her chacters it was completly missing ill never believe she wrote this mess

  103. Yes, we realize that Mrs. Auel is 75 years old. But that does not excuse her greedy publisher, Random House, or their ineffectual editors.

    Someone else above commented on how she must really hate women. Okay. She must really hate men as well, in order to have made Jondaler into such an emasculated character. Perhaps Mrs. Auel wrote herself into the series as the notorious Attorra in the Plains of Passage who hated all men, enslaved them and then killed them off.

    Mostly I think Mrs. Auel hates her readers. After all these years to leave us with such a bitter taste in our mouths is just sad.

  104. I too have loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series for many years. They were well written and thought out and I enjoyed waiting for the next installment. I too was a bit disappointed in the final book. I echo everyones sentiments about the repetitive nature of a lot of the book- the Mother's Song, the tedious descriptions of how everyone in the cave by NAME would turn their head when speaking to Ayla. Jetamia turned her head, Marthona turned her head, Jonayla turned in her seat... etc, etc. This is not the Jean Auel writing that I'm accustomed to.

    Just to throw out an idea, I think to keep the story moving in a fresh engaging way it would have been interesting for Ayla to encounter 'others' in her cave wanderings. As people have thrown out the idea of 'alien cultures' visiting our world for millenia whether true or not, it would've added a speculative nature to the story- were the people Ayla encountered 'true representatives' of the 'mother' herself ( intelligent beings from another solar system) or perhaps time travelers trying to learn from the past or trying to educate for the future generations- or where they products of the hallucinogens? Either way I think it would've added a bit of excitement and adventure to the otherwise humdrum story that was very predictable. It would've been exciting for Ayla to glean her information from a source she couldn't explain- In one of the hallucinogenic sequences Ms. Auel strongly hinted at 'alien' cultures- or so I took it that way- I seem to remember one of the sequences involving what was described- the way I saw it- as tall buildings. Though the source of them or why Ayla would dream of them was never explored at all. Just a thought! Too bad the series is over, I hope Ms. Auel will reconsider.

  105. I began reading these series as a teen. I am now 29 years old. There have only been two series that have ever really captivated me. This saga and Harry Potter. I kept reading and turning every page hoping that somehow it would get better. I was like many of you left disappointed. I read the series again each time before a new book comes out and many things were inaccurate and left hanging. It was so disappointing. I had to read every single persons review in an attempt to get some sort of closure. Although I admit to feeling better I am still sour. So many good points were brought up and I agree with 98% of them. Anyone notice that in book 5 Auel kept referring to Bruns clan as Brans clan. I had to check several times just to make sure. Everyone is right. There was so so much potential for this and it fell nothing short of flat. That's an understatement. I have long respected Auel and have used many of her life teachings as well, however I do not believe Auel will (or should) write anymore. She needs to sell this copywrite and give her characters and fans justice. Nuff said. If she does not I'm sure there will be plenty of those fake ride on/along stories that people make up when they are not satisfied. Sorry but I Sony remember what they are called.

  106. Wow! I,m feeling like I can actually heal some from knowing I am not alone in the feelings evoked from this book. I was actually depressed over this for a while and had to just pretend that it was a bad dream and that I would wake up and find the real book was in the book store. I cannot accept the stories in this book. In my mind, there was no affair and Ayla was allowed to have Jondalar and Jonayla stay in the cave with her while Ayla watched the stars at night because this was the only way she could become a Zellandonii and be a mate and mother at the same time, and they taught and showed Jonayla their knowledge and skills while enjoying each other's company. Ayla would have taught her daughter about Durc as well and that they would look for him some day. Wouldn't that have been so much better? I am soooo embarrassed by this book!!

  107. Like everyone else, I've been so disappointed in this book I've been depressed for days. I know it's just a piece of fiction, but these characters have become as real to me as the characters of the TV series 'Lost' did a few years ago.

    While I can't agree with the person who posted a comment above saying they would like to have seen futuristic aliens from another planet included in this final story, I'd love to have the chance to rewrite the end of this book myself, in a way that would have brought closure to it for me.

    For starters, I'd get an editor. A good one. One who would slash the endless (and often eroneous) repetitions of previous events and the tiring Mother's Song, and also insist that a couple of caves were enough.

    I'd let the scene of Ayla choosing Laramar and the two other men at the Mother's Festival stay, though it wouldn't be a rape scene. It would be so erotic that it would justify Jondalar's wrath in beating Laramar. Wouldn't you rather read that?

    Ayla would accept an offer from Dalanar to become the new Zellandonni at the new cave that his group, the Lanzadonni, was expanding to. (How many times were we told that they were growing?) She would tell Jondalar that this was her plan in the scene where they run into each other in the woods. She would tell him that she was taking Jonayla, all three horses and the wolf there with her when the Summer Meeting was over. And she would NOT cry or pout when she said it. That would get him in his loincloth.

    Please. Enough of the roots already. Instead, Ayla becomes gravely ill after taking the abortion-inducing mistletoe so soon after her miscarriage. Jondalar can step in and bring her back with his love from this near death situation much more realistically than the old root trick. Did anyone else get sick of reading about barma and drugs?

    I would add a lot more dialog between Ayla and Jondalar at the end. His long-delayed apology to her for his betrayal with Marona in front of a minor character like Danug just didn't cut it with me. Nor did Ayla's easy forgiveness of both him and the evil Marona. The reader needs more debriefing than was given, more like what we got at the end of The Mammoth Hunters. There needs to be some understanding and closure. My version would have a lot less of what the characters were THINKING about in any given situation, and a lot more of what they were SAYING about it to each other. This was my biggest complaint with the book.

    There would be no characters who "suddenly remember" something. Hated that. Just saying. For instance Jondalar "suddenly remembering that she had seen him with Marona. In his new understanding he had forgotten ... " Please.

    And lets face it - Marona needs to get hers. Nowhere in this book did I feel that her character was realistically presented. What made Jondalar attracted to her when he described her as "a shrew" clear back in the Valley of the Horses? How was a woman who was so despicable and viscous to his Ayla given such a pass? I guess I'll never understand why the John Edwards and Arnold Schwartzenegers of the world cheat on their beautiful wives with women as equally scummy as a Marona ... but come on. JONDALAR?

    I know what you're all thinking. I have too much time on my hands. But how about it Mrs. Auel? Book seven? I'm available to consult.

  108. Hey Jean Auel...have loved the series form the beginning, BUT this last one is a big disappointment, boring, and a waste of time to read. Do us all a favor and write a REAL last book...put some effort into wrapping up the wonderful subplots you created over the years. This is fiction and we want character development and storylines, not an encyclopedia of fictional history! And the REDUNDANCY. OMIGOSH !!! I would glady reread all the previous books rather than sit through the boring repetition you presented. Go back and read your Clan of the Cave Bear and end the series with a #7 written in that same style. We would love it. Right now, most of your fans are disappointed in you.....but you can get us all back with a great ending to this series.

  109. I started reading these books when I was 12 I absolutely loved them and eagerly anticipated each new book including the 6th.

    Then I read it and I wish that I had never picked it up. It was so disappointing that I was left with only one question in my mind. Did Jean M. Auel actually write this book? My Technical Writing textbook was more interesting than this book.

    All I have to say is that even if she does write book 7 I don't think I will ever even look at it.

  110. Ever since I picked up the Clan of the Cave Bear when I was 12 I was in love. In love with this magical world & the people it held. No other books I've read have even come close. I don't think there will ever be. Every time I pick up one of Jean's books it's like I'm transported to another time & place. It's like I'm right there along side Ayla experiencing everything she is in vivid detail. I know she's just a fictional character. But she has become part of the family for me. She's been my friend for so many years. Every time I pick up one of the books it's like visiting a dear old friend.

    I was both excited & saddened with reading Ms. Auel's final book. I didn't want the happy dream to end. I didn't like the book 100% either. The book did drag for me too. And I was so disappointed in Jondolar. Marona ? Come on.......seriously ? It didn't surprise me though. I do hope Ms. Auel does another book. I would hate for it to end this way. Of course in my mind Ayla's story will never end.

  111. This was such a good series and the final book did not do it justice. It was repetitive and boring. I think Auel shouldnt have published a book at all let alone this one and now I doubt people will read the series which is very sad. Didnt anyone tell her how bad it was before she published it????...

  112. I think Auel needs to write a new book - just to save face. Even if she got a group of people together to half write a GOOD story line and she just fills in the blanks at least that way she wouldnt be remembered for such a terrible book and we could maybe forget this one even happened.

  113. if you would like a detailed description of leaves blowing in the wind... the you will love this last book.

  114. The final image that will forever be left in my mind is of Ayla and Jondalar, sitting on a hide by their special steam where they spent their two week honeymoon period after their mating.

    But that special swimming place became the sight where Ayla observed Jondalar betraying her with Marona. And I can't help but think that the hide was the same one that he and Marona stood on as she performed oral sex on him while Ayla watched in anguish through the trees.

    In that final scene that Jean Auel leaves us with, there is no healing touch between Ayla and Jondalar and no interpretive dialogue to help us understand how they have resolved their issues, and where they go from there. Something we always came to expect in the other books.

    I wish I had stopped reading this wonderful series at the end of the Plains of Passage. I could have left them there, with her finding her people at last- coming home to his family. I could have said goodbye to these wonderful characters then.

    Instead I feel I've been left to chew on that dirty hide. Yuk.

  115. Like most that have commented, I have waited years for this last book, nearly broke my neck to go and fetch this after work the day it came out, hoping it would tie up some if not all loose ends about Durc and the Clan, but barely a mention. I don't think I have ever been so frustrated by reading a book. Anyone who has read all the series will know that it hovers on being an obsession with the characters because of how she portrayed them in the first three books and I feel let down by this last book, books 4 and 5 weren't all that brilliant either to be honest but I sure we all waited with baited breathe for the last installment hoping all the loose ends would come together, it didn't even really have to be a happy ending... but a story would have be nice. I am so frustrated Jean, what happened? Like some of the other comments I wished I had stopped at the Plains of Passage and kept my own ending in my head... its far better. I seriously hope that some of the comments get back to Mrs Auel and that she takes them on board and gives us another book.. one with a story and the characters we love, because quite frankly I got to the point when I didn't care if they lived or died unlike the other books when I was with them every step of their journey and felt I had learnt so much. This wasn't Ayla or Jondolar as I know them... and their daughter Jonayla.. I don't feel like I actually got to meet her, did she grow up in this book. Ohh I could go on and on... sorry better stop now my blood pressure is getting high.

  116. I have been waiting for almost 30years for the final book in the series and WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! I can't believe that this is how Auel wants the series to end. What a load of rubbish! Nothing happens- and it just goes on and on and on and ... Was it really Auel that wrote the book? Maybe she died and the publishers got someone else to write it, because they knew everyone was waiting for it. Or maybe Auel got fed-up writing the books and just wrote this load of rubbish to finish her contract. Because REALLY! I can't believe someone who wrote books like Clan of the Cavebear and Valley of Horses could write something so utterly BAD as this. But then again, Plains of Passage had some quite boring parts and Shelters of Stone also had quite a lot of nothing going on for a fair amount of time. So maybe it has been going downhill for some time. Really, ms Auel, I think you could have shown more respect for your readers who have supported you for many years, than selling this rubbish to them.

  117. She most certainly is alive and well, and you can see her on the web doing several interviews in Britain for The Land of Painted Caves. Just Google her name to see one of them. I detect no age related issues or dementia and can think of no reason why she couldn't have given us a better final book than this. Just hate leaving Ayla and Jondalar on that filthy hide by the stream.

  118. lets face it shes old this was it guys .this mess is all we get, no ending no closeure just this piece of total trash we deserved better

  119. I have never skimmed over a book as much as I did this one. If I saw the Mother's Song ONE MORE TIME!!! What a load of disappointing rubbish. I totally agree with the reader that threw it in the cat pan. Yep! That's definitely where it belongs. It was beyond a mere disappointment.

  120. I should have got it from the library. I should never have monetarily contributed to this badly written piece of junk.

  121. I had Clan of the Cave Bear down on my huge list of "To Read"....finally got around to it this past month--31 years after it was written. I found it to be a good read; I consumed it faster than usual, and was eager to read the next install, "The Valley of the Horses". While the 2nd book started off well, I was confused by the agonizingly slow progress of Jondalar (and Thonolan) meeting up with Ayla, and the unnecessary over-sexualization of the novel. I didn't care about his sexual exploits along the way. Was that meerly due to the 80's over-interest in sexual freedom? In all, it took 330 pages for the two to finally meet. The book seemed almost to have been written by another author....very disappointing considering the stellar plot of the first book, and the wonderful dynamics of the Clan. With all the wonderful books out there to read, why waste time with those who are only cashing in on a previous bestseller? Unfortunately, the comments I read here and elsewhere all lead to the same evaluation: Auel's 1st book was loved, and each successive book was a major, dissappointing-failure. The author leads on her readers with promises of future plot developments that never actually materiaalize. She, and her editors, never seem to have taken reader comments about each book seriously, and have continued down the path of Harlequin Romance silliness and triviality. What a shame. I'll finish "Valley" but have no interest in the remaining books.

  122. Jean Auel, is the only author I have ever bought new in hardback as soon as it came out. So she is my favourite living author. This was not her best work. Many artists, musicians etc, start out and are very successful. Then they improve, and get better. But many of these improvemnts, just detract from what made their work special in the first place. Valley of the Horse is in my top five favourite books. This isnt in my top five thousand.

  123. I found these last two books such a huge disappointment. I didn't even finish this last one and instead googled the plot synopsis so I wouldn't waste my time. My mother told me years ago that Jean Auel's payment was per word... which is how they pay pulp fiction writers? Anyways, it was the best explanation going for why every book after the fist two were filled with so much extraneous and repetitive writing. I agree with everyone who says the quality of the series declines with every new book. And as for the suggestions that someone else wrote it, I don't think so. A ghost writer would not have been allowed to submit such an awfully written piece.

    And one more thing to poke holes into, did anyone else feel like the dialog was written by and for 6 year olds? Who talks like that???

    final note, i love the first few books and have re-read them many times. Some things just aren't meant to be i guess. Perhaps someone one day will take it on them self to edit the last books into shorter, more intelligent versions of themselves.

  124. I am a huge Jean Auel fan. While I don't find the writing fantastic, I have found the concepts of her books compelling and reading the books changed my world view significantly.

    I was sorely disappointed in the final book. I had long stopped waiting for it as the last two books have seemed to take insanely long to come out with confusing results. I was certain she would wrap up the vital plot points like where Ayla's people came from... some sort of connection with her original Clan and Durc if even simply during one of her herbal journeys.

    I found the incident with Jondalar and Marona insanely unbelievable and insulting to the readers who have come to love the coupleship of Jondalar and Ayla. I was so "traumatized" by reading the way it played out, it actually affected my relationship with my own partner! (i know.. get a real life..). Having Jondalar be tempted and make a choice to "share pleasures" with another would have been somewhat believable, but the level of betrayal and emotional abandonment he showed Ayla was staggering. And to have it come with so little warning was insulting to the readers as well as to the person of Ayla who, as many other commentators have mentioned, was so in tune with nuances and body language. The straying of her mate would hardly have escaped her.

    I am not sure why it is taking Ms. Auel so long to pump these books out and why they are leaving us wanting. I think that I would, at this point, prefer fan fiction or a ghost writer to finish out the story than to have things left as they are.

    In real life, things don't get wrapped up neatly, but this is fiction. That is why we love fiction.. we get resolution to our plot lines. Please please, Ms. Auel.. we greatly esteem you and all you have done. Please give your long time faithful readers what we long for.

    Not a Fair Weathered Fan in Oregon

  125. HUGE Disappointment. I have to admit that I was so disillusioned with this book, that by the time I got to the Ayla/Laramar incident, I laughed out loud at Jondalar yelling "She's making my baby, she's making my baby" as he beat up Laramar. It was just ridiculous. Whoever the editor was deserves to be fired. I'm so glad I got this book out of the library and didn't actually pay for it.

  126. I always felt "Shelters of Stone" was half a book, and the endings would be tied up in the final book of the series. I am sad to discover I was wrong. I won't reiterate what everyone else here has said, but I am in full agreement. Every time "The Mother's Song" was resung, I would roll my eyes and skip to the end.

    Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
    - There were so many loose ends to be cleaned up: Brukeval, Lanoga & Lorala (and younger siblings), Marona, Madroman, possible trades with the Clan, Jonayla... the list goes on and on.

    - My husband and I have often wished that each of the books came in 2 versions: for loyal readers and everyone else. The "loyal readers" book could come with several appendices (plants, characters from previous novels, anthropology), so the book might say, "Ayla gathered the cattails," and folks who were interested could look up "cattails" in the Plant Appendix. Or another example could be, "Jondalar, do you remember when we stayed with Laduni of the Losadunai?" (see "Plains of Passage Appendix"). Think how much thinner the books would be if we could just skip repetition of previous novels!

    - After the first couple hundred pages, I just went to Google: Images to look at the cave pictures for myself. That could be another appendix. I felt like so much of this novel was a travelogue of French cave sites. I appreciate their fascination for Ms. Auel, but I was more vested in the characters than the location... and what happened to the characters?

    - It has bugged me for several novels now that Ms. Auel ends a chapter by bringing up something to be continued in the next. It just feels wrong. By all means, start a chapter with the action, but don't split the action down the middle!

    - Unlike many people here, I never expected a reunion between Ayla & Durc. I *did* expect some interaction between the Zelandoni & the Clan, though, for better or worse.

    - Jondalar's sexual interactions with Marona was totally out of character. It violated our modern view of marriage, but not theirs, that's not the issue, it's that he chose *her.* It was obviously just a plot device, and a sorry one at that.

    - I love how someone earlier commented that the Mamutoi were 3-dimensional and the Zelandonii 2-dimensional... what a great (and accurate) observation!

    - What's with the characters who flitted in and out of the story so fast? Did anyone actually track how many people were named?

    I'm sure I'll think of other comments later. I'm hugely disappointed. I hope Ms. Auel writes something else to complete this story, but given that it took her 8 years (!) to write what should have finished the stories in "Shelters of Stone," I'm not holding out hope. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had taken so long between each installment of "Harry Potter"!

    I live in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., as does Ms. Auel. You might be interested in this interview our local newspaper published in March 2011:

    In it, Ms. Auel says, "I write for myself. I don't write for my publisher. I don't write for critics. I don't write for my fans. I know some fans would wish I would write for them, but I don't. It's my book. It's my story. It's my characters." Unfortunately for us, that is obviously the case with "The Land of the Painted Caves."

  127. If you don't write for your fans than you shouldn't write. And this in point!

  128. Well, Jean Auel has somewhere along the line lost track of HER book, HER story, and especially, HER characters.

  129. More great posts! Thanks for sharing that little interview snippet KathyPW.

    It's interesting that she says that. I get the idea that you have to right first and foremost for yourself- if you don't love what you are writing about (and researching) it's harder to get the reader to buy into it. I felt that with the first books. This one though- it seemed like even she lost her love for the characters. Now, her love of the caves and the painting and that history? That I got. Unfortunately it's insulting to the fans to take a story we all love and throw it away at this point in the series because you are writing for yourself and not for them. We buy the books so, imo, you should at least take the fans into consideration. Write the book you want, but be aware that your book doesn't only have an audience of one.

    To KathyPW again- what a great idea to simply reorganize the books by putting the repetitive info into appendices instead of in the body of the story. Those who want to dig in can, those who just want the story can just read and enjoy.

  130. I just finished the book last night and yes there are so many potential story lines that leave you wanting to know more. Like everybody else, over the years, I have been eagerly waiting for each new book, but particularly this final one because I thought she would meet up, someho again with Durc. I can't say how disappointed I was that this didn't happen. From that aspect, I feel the story isn't complete. Can we dare hope?

  131. I like you am an addict for the adventures of Ayla. Waiting for the 6th to come out I went back and started at the beginning again reading them in order and loving every minute of it. By doing this the redundancy of the 6th is even more apparent. I got really tired of the repeated mothers song, once or twice would have been enough, but it seemed to show up in so many chapters, even for someone new to the series it would seem that they would have gotten tired of it too. Aside from that, I am daring to hope there will be another book, this is a story that needs to continue and let us know where it all ends.

  132. I agree with everything said here. Kate E you are far too kind to Jean. I don't want to mean to her but she really did rip us fans off.

    In my version:
    Ayla still catches Jondalar with Marona and the Summer Meeting, and decides to sever the knot with him, as Ayla can see that Marona is pregnant (the affair did go on for several months). She moves to Zelandoni lodge (we are still at the Summer Meeting here) and is trying to get over Jondalar when... a delegation of the Mamutoi turn up! I say Deegie, her husband, Latie and Ranec, all on horses that they've managed to tame.

    So in my fantasy version Ranec tells Ayla he had to come to find her cause he can't live without her... so they all leave together to go back to the Lion Camp. Ayla takes Jonayla, Wolf and the horses of course - they all belong to her, Jondalar deserves nothing! (except Marona**evil laugh**). On the way back to Lion Camp Ayla wakens early one morning and standing atop a small hill, she spies Durc's clan travelling. before she can help herself, she calls down to him. He looks up and instantly reconises her, but because he is still Clan, he cannot decide if he's seeing Ayla or her spirit come to claim him. Eventually he decides she IS a spirit, but acknowledges her with signs, before moving off into the forest with his Clan, as they are searching for a new home.

    Much better version if I do say so myself!

  133. I struggled with my disappointment with this book. I just couldn't get the bad taste out of my mouth from it. Jean Auel seems to have lost her love for her characters, even though we have not. That's why we're all so disappointed.
    Anyway, to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I started re-reading the brilliant Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Ayla and Jondalar were an epic couple to me until Jondalars betrayal of her with Marona. NEVER would Jamie, in Outlander, cheat on his beloved Claire. Going back to these books made me feel better.

  134. Hi all... (waves)

    Okay, I can only concur with what everyone else had to say about LoPC(character assassinations, endless repetition of caves/plants/intros/animals/Mother's Song/Mother's Song/ MOTHER'S SONG/I WAS LISTENING TO IT ON CD AND COULDN'T EVEN SKIM FORWARD!!!) Ahem. Sorry about the capslock...

    However, there's one really basic problem that made me absolutely angry. Auel resurrected the outdated and debunked sociological theory that the "discovery" of male paternity somehow caused oppressive patriarchal societies. This is just not true. It doesn't match up with historical reality, and there is simply no reliable evidence or proof to support the idea. There is absolutely no reliable/consistent correlation at all between whether or not a society/culture/tribe understood or knew about the process/concept of male paternity and whether this group was organized under the principles of patriarchy, matriarchy, or anything in between. Even more significantly, there is no proof that the discovery of the male role in paternity causes sexist behavior on an individual, group, or societal level, much less within a short time-- and proof does exist that points in exactly the opposite direction.

    In Dr. John Weatherford's analysis of how sexist behaviors were introduced to some northeastern Native American tribes by European cultures, we actually see how this process did occur within a very short time and was recorded by contemporary witnesses: certain aspects were adopted from an invading culture that had enforced dominance over an indigenous people, which was mostly made possible because the population had been reduced by 90% due to the ravages of introduced disease. The society was devastated and in unimaginable upheaval. They most likely adopted what they saw because this was the side that had won, and they wanted to placate and copy them. But even in this case, it was a very limited adoption of rules and customs. This tends to support a particular theory of cultural transmission, but the theory aped by Auel couldn't be much further from it.

    So basically, the major "revelation" at the end just didn't happen at all. This is not how patriarchy/sexism/subjugation of women/etc. came about. Nobody really knows how that happened, and it certainly didn't take place "all at once" (or during the Ice Age, either. That much, we know.) But for some reason, Auel wants to push that old, old theory, and it's not only untrue but kind of vile. (Really? That's all it took? Doesn't that seem to imply that men were basically sexist jerks all along if it were supposedly that easy to make them so?)

    Sigh. So, so much to be disappointed about with this book.

  135. In addition to all that is been mentioned. What about Lanoga. Earlier in the book Auel mentioned that she married Lanidar, they have a baby and that thogether with her older brother, are raising Lanoga's siblings. So why at the end Ayla and Jondalar agree to take care of Tremeda's children, it's like Auel forgot what she wrote, and therefore their little "stunt" had no real consequences

  136. Everyone has already expressed the disappointment I felt in reading LOPC but there has been little mention of the way the Mamutoi visitors were treated. They journeyed all that way and were barely given the time of day by the Zelandoni! If it had been reversed, there would have been much feasting and welcome for the newcomers.

    As for Jean just writing for herself and no one else - well, I figure she's been reading the reviews and is just trying to save face. But, if it's really the truth, maybe she'd better buy all her books herself or don't bother to publish them in the first place.

  137. I just finished reading this book. I had decided to not even buy it after reading some reviews, but when I saw a large print one left on the empty shelves at Borders going-out-of-business sale I thought, "I guess I will read it anyway". The price was right.

    I agree with all the comments about this book. I was sick of caves, the Mother's Song, introductions, every plant over described, alternate names for every plant, too many characters, even too many places to keep track of, etc. I skipped many pages and started counting (out of boredom) how many pages it took to describe something that could have been done on one. I was even noticing how every name had so many syllables! That is truly boredom.

    Given all the "inventions" in the previous books by Ayla I was honestly waiting for her to invent the wheel in this one because of the need to transport people and things. That was one of my complaints about the previous books. I have to say I was happy no wheels are involved.

    I had hoped to see Ayla see her son again, have more children with Jondalar, and find someone who knew something about her people. I had also hoped, if this were the last book, to see more time had passed. Perhaps to the point of Jonayla being married and Ayla and Jondalor being reminded of their lives together.

    Somehow I don't see another book coming, but I hope I am wrong. Perhaps if it could be written in a few years rather than almost a century some of us would actually buy it. What a sad way to end it all, not the story itself, but the lack of a story.

  138. After just finishing re reading the series (again) so as to read the finale,my family who I encouraged to read(forgot about all those sex scenes-sorry Dad!)told me the latest one Painted Caves was boring...This has just been confirmed by the above comments...will wait to buy it from the op-shop then will skip to page 500!thanks everyone for the input,hopefully Jean will take note and give us something to sink our teeth into ,in a finale worthy of Ayla and her incredible journey in the past.

  139. This is just a shaggy dog story. I skipped to the end after the first 150 pages. Glad I got it from the library--after being on a 6-week waiting list. Maybe I'll keep it out of circulation for awhile to spare others the torture.

  140. Stopped reading after the first chapter. All those names!! Glad to read all these posts, I might revisit it at some point but maybe not. I liked some of the endings other people have written. Maybe we can hire them to write another book. Glad I didn't buy it.

  141. I was first introduced to this series after four books had been written. I read the first four within a month and was anxiously waiting for Shelters of Stone. Most of you say it was a letdown as well. But I loved it.

    Now Land of Painted Caves was disappointing to me. I figured Danug would visit the Zelandonni. I also thought Durc would miraculously appear as well.

    If you think clearly about it, Durc was raised in the Clan. How could he possibly know how to find Ayla who could have been anywhere in Europe?

    If Auel gave you readers everything you wanted, then the book would have taken such an unrealistic turn that it would not have been worth writing.

    All of you talk about writing your own endings. Go ahead. See how hard it is. But I would suggest you make your own characters instead of stealing Auel's. Her task was no easy one. The research that went into these books took nearly her entire adult life.

    While Land of Painted Caves is my least favorite of the books, I still thank Jean Auel for the series.

    I for one hope this is the last book. Sometimes no closure can keep a character you hold dear alive in your heart. If she gave many of you the closure you probably would not have been happy with that either.

  142. Thanks to all you most recent posters for sharing your thoughts.

    Anise- excellent breakdown of the male paternity causing oppressive patriarchal societies. Admittedly this is not my field of study, so I was not aware of the research/finding on the topic. To be honest, Auel choosing to go this route doesn't other too much. In part because I don't think her books were every meant to be read as fact. I take much of what is in the series with a grain of salt- but I definitely get your point. Why further the theory? Her research is insane in terms of trying to remain faithful to location and culture, so it seems as though the same would apply to sociological issues.

    In response to the most recent anonymous poster- I don't think there is any possible way she could please everyone. With a series this popular that's just not realistic. And as you noted, the story would have become unrealistic too, with everything being wrapped up in a pretty bow. The longer I am away from the book the more I feel like my issue was that the plot of the book seemed to be a rehashing of old issues, not to mention the internal repetitiveness of the caves and the song, etc. For the size of the book, I didn't feel like the story moved forward enough. I didn't feel like I learned enough about the characters or even that they were learning anything. It's a problem I come across in a lot of series. I totally agree too that sometimes no closure is an excellent thing- it lets you imagine the story continuing on (a la The Sopranos finale on HBO). What I didn't like was that when we ended this book I didn't feel like we were any closer to a happy ever after then when we started. I want to imagine them all being okay... together or apart... I want to feel like they will all get through it and be happy. I thought we were left with too many unanswered questions that I couldn't even imagine solutions to.

  143. For me, it was a very disappointing addition (end?) to a great series. Everyone has already pointed out the main flaws - the Mother's song, the endless caves "with a picture of a mammoth, and another picture of a different mammoth that seemed to be drawn by another artist, and a picture of a mammoth facing left..." the introductions, the spear-thrower, Ayla's accent, Jondalar's blue eyes and charisma... we've heard it all before. It was as if Auel wanted to try and write a new novel simply by cutting and pasting large segments from her previous work.

    I did rush through the book though, but more so I could finish it and start a new one, rather than because I wanted to find out what happened.

    If anything, the best part of Painted Caves was that it inspired me to re-read Clan of the Cave Bear again. All I can do is hope that Auel does the same thing.

  144. I read it too, including some of the comments above. I have to agree, it was a time-filler for me and dissapointing.

    One aspect I missed which I didn't read above were some new inventions. I know the Wheel was a later invention than the time setting the book was written in, but some newer things would be cool...

  145. People spoke about writing their own ending...has anyone? I would love to read a fan's well written book, or even a chapter outline/breakdown of what would happen in the book. I haven't found anything online, but would encourage anyone who has the imagination and passion to do this!

    1. Anonymous (15 Feb, 5:09PM), that's a great idea, but I don't think a chapter outline of this one would help anyone too much:

      Went to cave, saw paintings, sang Mother's song.
      Met thousands of people who noticed Ayla's accent; they were introduced to Wolf.
      Went to cave, saw paintings, sang Mother's song twice.
      Revelled in Jondalar's blue eyes and charisma, realised no one had been introduced to Wolf for a while, unneccessary characters were found so they could touch his fur.

      I also don't think the problem is the ending; it's the hundreds and hundreds of pages of filler prior to the ending that makes a fanfic rewrite a bit impossible. To me, it would have to be a completely new story. But of course, that's just me...

    2. I love to be able enter my contribution...

      I grew up until my secundary school with list of books that i had to read. Had to. To get an A to my exams if i shared the cynical ´realistic´opinions with the teachers that judged me.
      About the youth problems of reformed grown up authors that formed the elite of dutch literature.

      Then Jean Auel came. Ayla, my goddess...!!
      The only other author after her was Tolkien, LOTR. And still i am occupied with Frodo´s journey to Mordor. But i am getting off topic now.

      How do you dare, Jean, how could you? a 5 years old girl, exposed to earth quake, threatened by cave lion, than exiled by a resentfull clanleader. How much could a person in today´s world be able to bear before experiencing a mental breakdown?
      And no psychiatrists were there at that time. A person had no choice than just to go on... What, what do we people of today, with internet and cnn know about our earliest ancestors.
      Okay; we just guess. And we know nothing about them.

      I still regard Clan of the Cavebear to be the most cruel of the whole of the series. Plains of passage to me is the most tender. Thank goddess for Wolf grabbing Attaroa. Phew.

      People have emotions, but from the reviews, i get the impression that emotions even so have people.

      I enjoyed all six books of this series. I have no literary standards to judge a book. Ever experienced an earthquake? Ever felt everything around you crashing together? In a blunt physical way? in a more societal way? Did you ever got this attack from a angry dog, or lion?

      I just see a female, surviving all the way through the books.Getting her lessons from that cave lion totem who chose her. Nearly saved from death by an attack from a total mentall y insane person.
      Yes, i got very angry with Jondalar having his affair with Marona, while Ayla is in the pain of her miscarriage.
      I have experienced the same, working so hard for a career, whilst a girl-friend was minding some...ahhh other business.

      Still i just see a woman survive, always she had to say good bye to people, forced at first. Then in the sake of love. And always this central question; Will they accept me, or will they close me out? Drive me into exile again? Will i every find someone who really loves me?
      I see a woman, shake at a too young age to her core. She has a life of survival... How much of you can imagine about that?

      Very well then, if there is one character which i loved to kick in the ass, it is this first zelandoni with her pressure on ayla to get her so longed desire for more contact with the spiritual world for her psychic root experience.
      But in my perspective, Jean Auel show a very realistic time mirror to very actual today´s social and personal issues.
      No surprise to me that it gives so much reactions...

      Ayla as a ´Mary Sue´-character, as i read in other reviews. I live in a mentally vinegar-loaded delta, the Netherlands. Any of you having dutch ancestors too? You don´t need to continue every aspect of their cultural inheritance, do you?

      You want to take up some challenge? From a maybe too naive, too romantic, an even literary, fictional newbie soul of a dutchman? Improve, dare to improve Jean M. Auel.
      Get yourself as soon as possible to and read how people unaskedly, from free will exactly just did that. They thought again and wrote their own storylines,continuations of what Jean Auel once started.

      Dear miss Auel. Thank you very much indeed for performing your creativity in the Earth´s children.
      An author with so much reviews... You wrote about what could might have been, and you took so much readers on your path of imagination. So that raises expectations...

      Don´t get me wrong, colleague-reviewers, Every attempt is a worth, a strive for more beauty. Create more beauty.
      And improve Jean Auel.

      And i still feel obliged, like i also have everything available of Lord of the Rings, to get myself my ow copy of Land of the Painted Caves as well.

      Let´s create more beauty.

  146. I have just finished reading the last book after skipping most of it out of pure boredom. Unlike most I did not grow up reading these books. I only discovered the this year and in the space of a couple of months I read each one back to back. I loved the first four, the fifth had my mind wondering but the sixth was the last straw. I don't think Auel wrote this book, the characters no longer sounded the same, they had lost their 'voice'. The other interactions, Marona and Laramar in particular were uncalled for and not needed. The end felt like it was tacked on and was a complete afterthought, no plot lines resolved from the current book or the previous ones.

    It was such a crushing disappointment for me see what Ayla had been turned into, Ayla was my lifeline when things turned bad in my own life recently, so I think her fall from grace along with Jondalar's idiotic behaviour was even more hearwrenching. The whole book read like a very badly written fanfiction by an overemotional angsty teenager. (Aside from the cave descriptions etc)

    In saying that though there are some excelent re-writes by fans out there which sum things up better and capture more of the characters voice than Auel did in this book.

    I still love the series and will reread the first few books, but I feel betrayed and foolish due to this one as I have been recomending the series to everyyone I know, I just hope they start with the brilliant first ones.

  147. Too long of a wait for too many caves!! WE could have had one good cave description and then moved on to the plot. I am disappointed. I, too, want to know what happened to Durc, but if Ms. Auel writes another 700 plus page book that describes all of Ayla's past, I may just google the answers to my questions. Just sayin'. . . . I have more important things in my life.

  148. I was not disappointed one bit in the last book of the series. Those caves are real, you know. You can go see the same pictures on the walls that Ayla saw. There is a direct connection, in those caves and other artifacts, between the world over thirty thousand years ago and our world today. When I read the descriptions of the caves, I looked at images online of the paintings being described. It made it very exciting to me. The repetition is a way to accustom us to the ritualized society being depicted in the story. It is all too tempting to think of them as modern humans, but their world was about as different as it can be, and those rituals were central to their social interactions. I read all six books, one after the other, and to me, there was no deterioration in the writing or in the story. The story's ending was fine for me, it tied up most of the loose ends and left a few strands for us to ponder.

  149. This last book was only a teaser from all of the others, with each being a need to read the next. The wait though longer then one would of thought, I think was a little long. I seem too remember that it was the publisher, that has held the story and printing up. And that was back in the late 1980, about the story content not being very good. But for me personally when and if another book comes, I'm ready to wait that's how good they are to me. Of course my opinion might not count very much, I'm ready and waiting Mrs Auel, thank you for all the stories Herb Thompson