The Land of Painted Caves

The Land of Painted Caves - Jean M. Auel THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES

With thirty years in the making, this series ends with a quiet dignity. There is no one huge reveal; nothing terribly unexpected to fans, but many smaller reveals. These are the type that the lovers of this series have come know and to expect. As usual we have the wonderful narrative, albeit, somewhat repetitive as with the other books. This is neither the heart shattering conclusion I had somewhat expected, nor does it really tie anything up in a neat little bow. It simply –IS.

MAY CONTAIN VERY, VERY SLIGHT SPOILERS OR HINTS OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

The Good---this MAY be read as a standalone. While others may think it is not, I do believe that while you will most definitely WANT to read the other novels, you don’t HAVE to, to enjoy this one. Ms Auel gives enough back-story to answer most of your questions. We learn how Ayla is left clanless as well as brief explanations on just what her “clan” was all about> We find out how she lost her original family to an earthquake, how she found and trained the animals and how she met Jondular and came to travel with him. Ayla’s life from the time she was 5 till now is all re-capped in this novel. Your curiosity will be piqued enough by this book to go back and read the others though, especially the very first one “Clan of the Cave Bear” (or you can even watch the movie, but with a lesser impact).

The Bad ---Ms Auel makes the same mistake with this novel as she has done in the past and becomes overly fond of repetition. In addition, if something is described once, then it will be described at least five, six, or more times during the duration of the novel, and sometimes the very same chapter. Moreover, at 756 ARC pages, by the time you get half way it becomes a distraction. At times, I found myself sometimes skimming certain pages just to get to something new.

The Summary--- Ayla is still in training as an Acolyte to the One that is First Among Those Who Serve (Zelandonii). Ayla, her daughter Jonayla, and Jondular are taking First, on a sort of quest called the Donier Tour to further Ayla’s requirements to become a full Spiritual Leader for the Ninth Cave. On this tour, they view many of their most sacred places, which are painted caves and that is how the title comes to be.
There is much interaction throughout this novel with various caves and people along the way. Several Summer Meeting will take place and we even get to see some old friends from past books.

About five years or so will pass with a blink of any eye, it seems, and Ayla’s daughter Jonayla grows from an infant into a wonderful child and then we are off on a tour (one of many). From one painted cave to another, and another and another etc. We seem to be seeing the same things in all the caves and while interesting, the repetition can become a bid tedious for those of us who are looking for a bit more action like was found in some of the previous books. I was surprised to see very little growth of the characters from what they were in the past novels. At least until the very last part of the book, when what can be considered the largest of the reveals comes to light. At about 403 pages and there still is no device being used that pushes the 6 book story to a conclusion. In fact, the novel never really concludes. There is no definitive ending. Which makes me wonder if there will be further Earth’s Children books but with Jonayla as the protagonist instead of Jondular and Ayla.

Interestingly enough, I do see an interesting twist with Ayla and Jondular being perhaps, one of the very first couples where the wife ‘works’ outside the home with separate responsibilities that are not just about taking care of her man and child. I see Jondular chaffing a bit when Ayla has something she needs to do for the Zelandonii and he cannot come with her. Moreover, we soon find this to unfortunately, be very true. I found this to be a fascinating bit of by-play for this time period and love how Ms Auel gives them a bit of a “modern” twist in the midst of the Ice Age.