R14. The Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel [classic]

Jean M. Auel's the Earth's Children: The Clan of the Cave Bear, the Valley of Horses, the Mammoth HuntersContext: I feel bad because the actual review is so sparse, so I'm going to try to give some extra context and thoughts about this. I'm also writing this without consulting the content of my old review, just knowing that it's about five lines long, so forgive me if there's any overlap.

A couple of weekends ago at the bookstore, I came across a book called The Fire in the Stone about prehistoric fiction, and resolved to add it to my list of things to read, because I obviously don't have time for detours like that just now. Does this sort of thing qualify as archaeology? Because if it does then it's one of those areas that I'm sort of interested in (meaning I haven't actively sought out any further information just yet), but don't know a lot about. I also love the wild hypotheses of evolutionary psychology, and things like that. Eventually I'll be finished reading all these novels, and can take some time to immerse myself in non-fiction.

But anyway, I really did love the Earth's Children series. I'm not positive when I started reading it, although I think it was sometime after grade ten or eleven, and I finished it probably a couple of years ago (that's if there isn't another book after The Shelters of Stone). These books are pretty enormous, even by my standards, and a lot of that volume is taken up by listing the flora and fauna of the Ice Age, and, in all the books after The Clan of the Cave Bear, sex and more sex. There was actually a lot to dislike, for example the main character's apparent prescience. Yuck.

Whether they were spectacular works of art or not, though, I think I value the series more for the things that it made me think about than the actual experience of reading it. These books made the most distant human past feel immediate in the same way that the worn steps in an old castle can make you suddenly aware of the feet that made them that way. Jean M. Auel's prehistory is so bright and optimistic, too, which may actually be more realistic than the struggling and squalor, given that we survived and have the internet, what may or may not be the crowning achievement of civilization so far. I read an article last weekend that got into the whole modern man and thought thing, which is here in case you want to have a look.

Oh, and one last thing! If you thought "Renesme" (sp?) was a horrible choice for a name, try "Jonayla." That would be like if Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt named their baby "Brangelina." Why would anyone think that this is a good idea?!

Year Published: 1980-2002
Pages: 3139 (based on numbers from Wikipedia and Google)

First Sentence: (from the first book) The naked child ran out of the hide-covered lean-to toward the rocky beach at the bend in the small river.

July 25, 2005 - Okay, here's where it starts: this series is good, except for the fact that after the first book, Ms. Auel seems to have gotten extremely horny and interested in describing large volumes of sex. I don't read these books for smut, I read them for their ... everything other than that. Their stories, their facts, their fictions. If I wanted smut, I would find it in Harlequin romance novels, not books about prehistoric humanity.

That is, at this time, the extent of my review for this series (into which I'm three books deep). Later, I'm sure I'll have more to add.

August 13, 2006 - I really enjoy these books, even though they're pretty much ridiculous. At least half fantasy, but they make me wish that I was a cavewoman.

Despite Auel's portrayal of prehistoric humanity as a bunch of hippies, the Earth's Children books can really make you (or me, at least) think. They've made me realize that these people were actually people, just like you or me. But, I'm not in the mood to complete another review right now, so blah. :|


  1. I remember those books. I don't remember how many of them I read. Or how old I was when I finally sucked it up and read the first one.

    When you have time to read a couple of thick books that are similar to these (and when we have all our stuff out of storage in Calgary), let me know. I will loan you a couple of awesome books about an Inuit woman.

  2. While I was "researching" this post, I found out that there -is- a new one that's coming out next year. So if you're interested, you should take up the series again!

    And the books you mentioned definitely sound interesting. I have a couple of other series that I really need to get through before I start anything new, but I'll definitely keep those in mind. :)