Home > Genre, historic > Book Review: The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel (Series, #6)

Book Review: The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel (Series, #6)

Image of a digital book cover. A blond woman stands in the mouth of a cave with a wolf by her side gazing down into a valley with horses in it.

All of Ayla’s unique life situations–from being adopted by the Clan to living in a valley by herself to her long Journey with Jondalar–have been combining to make her into a great, powerful woman.  In this final entry in the Earth’s Children series we witness her transformation from Ayla to Zelandoni shaman of the Zelandonii.

As a fan of the Earth’s Children series since the age of 15, there is just no way I can review this epically disappointing, long-awaited finale to the series without spoilers.  So, be warned, this whole post is going to contain spoilers, because there is just no way I can possibly not talk about  everything that went horribly awry here.

First there is the incredibly huge issue of plot.  The book is divided into three sections.  The first section is entirely Ayla wandering around looking at caves with Zelandoni.  Which would be fine.  If the caves had anything particularly unique about them or anything exciting happened in the caves or if we weren’t told repeatedly “here’s a horse painting, here’s a cave lion painting, here are dots that mean something to the Zelandoni but I won’t ever tell you what they mean because where would the fun in that be?”  Oh sure, there are hints that something more exciting might happen, but nothing ever does.  It’s like Auel thought about putting action in, but then decided it’d be way easier to talk more about the badly painted and scratched in horses in these caves that for some reason the Zelandonii think are so incredibly sacred.  Oh yeah.  I remember why.  Because they’re supposedly the vagina of the Earth Mother.  Think about that for a second.  These people are worshiping in sacred vaginas.

Then we have the second section which mysteriously jumps forward four years in Ayla’s acolyte training because for some reason we couldn’t possibly be interested in that, oh no, there’s nothing interesting about ceremonies or studies.  Instead, we get to jump ahead four years and go on Ayla’s Donier tour.  Do you know what Ayla’s Donier tour is?  Going around Zelandonii territory to look at MORE CAVES.  This traveling could possibly be interesting.  We have foreshadowing multiple times that something bad is going to happen to Ayla, particularly that a band of evil bad rapist men are going to kidnap her and drag her off.  But no.  They grab her and Jondalar somehow miraculously goes from in front of the evil band of rapist men to behind them, breaks the leather-thong assisted choke-hold the dude has on Ayla, and saves her from them.  Then the Zelandoni beat them to death in an instance of mob justice.  Well.  At least something sort of happened?

The third section jumps ahead two more years (skipping almost all the rest of Ayla’s acolyte training) to yet another summer meeting, which Ayla has to come to part-way through because she had to stay back to complete her final assignment of training.  Ayla has a vision in a cave (oh, we’ll get to that in a minute) and then goes to the summer meeting where she walks in on Jondalar getting naked sexy head from the one woman in the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii immune to liking Ayla.  No, I am not joking.  Jondalar, the oh I am Ayla’s soulmate and we will be together forever and I love her so much has totally been cheating on her for almost the entire last two years of her acolyte training.  Because she was busy.  Because a man has needs.  Because the ho offered herself to him and why on earth would Jondalar say no?  I am not joking, that is the tone of the book in the whole revelation of cheating thing.  PLUS, the whole cave knew about it and hid it from Ayla to protect her feelings.  Ayla, naturally, knows jealousy is taboo in Zelandonii society, so instead of confronting the cheating bastard she first has sex at a Mother Ceremony (ahem, orgy) with the dude Jondalar hates most in the Ninth Cave, and then she decides life isn’t worth living and tries to kill herself with the Clan root.  This from a woman who has three horses, a wolf, and a freaking 6 year old daughter to look after.  The only thing that saves her, naturally, is Jondalar’s undying love.  It took all of my self-control not to throw my kindle across the room.  Well, and also my intense love for my kindle.

So for two-thirds of the book nothing really happens, and then in the last third our two heroes both turn into loathsome people.  Good. Times.

Ok, so, the plot takes a complete nose-dive off Niagara Falls without a barrel while holding your beloved kitten.  What about the supposedly key element of the book and series?  What world-changing thing does this special woman, this powerful shaman, bring about?  Allow me to quote the new verse of the Earth Mother’s Song that is revealed to Ayla at the climax:

Her last Gift, the Knowledge that man has his part.
His need must be spent before new life can start.
It honors the Mother when the couple is paired,
Because woman conceives when Pleasures are shared.
Earth’s Children were blessed.
The Mother could rest. (page 540)

Yes. That is right, people.  The reason for this woman existing is to reveal to these dim-wits that sex, not the Earth Mother mixing spirits, causes babies.  Allow me to repeat that.  Ayla’s big contribution to pre-historic society is to teach these people the birds and the bees.

I wish I could say it gets better from there, but it doesn’t.  First Ayla has to convince the other shamans (Zelandoni) that this is true.  They, naturally, don’t want to believe it.  The lead Zelandoni convinces them that they must tell the people in a huge ceremony, because this will be life-changing.  Then we have, quite possibly, the most eyeball-widening, face-palming, head:desk inducing passage I have ever read.  The ceremony, meetings, and Mother’s Celebration that go along with it.  I won’t put you through the pain of all of it, but allow me to show you a good sample.  The passage in which the lead Zelandoni explains what to call the men who are also parents:

He is a far-mother, a fa-ther. It was also chosen to indicate that while women are the Blessed of Doni, men may now think of themselves as the Favored of Doni. It is similar to ‘mother,’ but the fa sound was chosen to make it clear that it is a name for a man, just as ‘fa’lodge’ is the name for the men’s place. (page 676-7)

I just…..there are no words for the inanity of it all.

Then, of course, all the men overnight turn into possessive, abusive, over-aggressive douchebags since now they know that their sperm has magical powers.  The book ends with the very heavy-handed suggestion that this revelation is what caused the move from matriarchy to patriarchy.

Oh, but it gets better.  To put one final touch of absurdity on the whole thing, we also finally get to find out what happened to the Neanderthals (Clan).  Ayla still has the black stone that contains a piece of every Clan member’s spirit in it from when she was a medicine woman for them.  A vision reveals to her that when Broud cast her out with the death curse, she forgot to leave the stone behind and thus caused the death of the entire Clan.  Yeah. Really. That’s what happens.  All of this build-up, and we find out that Ayla reveals the birds and the bees, kills matriarchy, and kills the Neanderthals.  What. The. Fuck.

As if the meandering plot and completely inane and horrifying huge reveals weren’t bad enough, something happened to Auel’s writing style.  I like to call it “let me give everything really long names and repeat myself a lot”  Just one example of the plethora of overly long names is “Zelandoni Who Was First Among Those Who Served The Great Earth Mother.”  That would be less painful, maybe, if Auel didn’t also repeat herself all the time.  Almost every time the lead Zelandoni shows up, we are reminded that she is a very large woman.  Almost every time Ayla speaks, someone notices her foreign accent.  Almost every time someone sees Jonayla (kill me now with that name), someone notices that she has Jondalar’s eyes.  Enough already!  We know! Stop telling us!

Between the meandering plot, completely what the fuck ending, and simply bad writing, I can’t recommend this book to anyone.  My best advice to fans of the series, or those interested in it, is to pretend that it ends with The Mammoth Hunters and Jondalar riding off into the sunset with Ayla.  Just pretend it stops there.  Ignore his people.  Ignore Ayla’s calling.  Ignore the Journey.  Just ignore the whole thing.  Take the characters and world back from Auel who completely mistreated them and let them exist in your mind the way they were at the end of The Mammoth Hunters.  Do not waste your time or hurt your brain reading this book. Just…..don’t.

1 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Valley of the Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone 

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  1. May 30, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Wow, this sounds just as epically bad as you said on Twitter now that I see the full details. I won’t be reading this one.

    • May 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Haha, yeah. You definitely got a preview of the badness on twitter. 😉

      • November 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm

        that’s just screwed up first he says he loves her then he cheats on her I used to love them together he needs to go jump off a cliff or something

  2. May 30, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I never managed to get through Shelters of Stone so fortunately I was at no risk of reading this anytime soon, and now I guess I don’t have to bother at all. Was this one also so excessively sexual that you felt uncomfortable that you felt awkward reading it in the vicinity of anybody who might glance over at the page and notice what it said? Lol, that was always an issue when I read these.

    • May 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Well, honestly, the sex scenes never bothered me (in fact, I kinda liked them). That said, there really aren’t very many in here, particularly for how long the book is. There are two of any significance, and they feel more out of place than anything.

  3. Kiley
    June 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I definitely agree with this review. I got to the part where Jondalar cheats on Ayla for 2 years, then I quit. The whole book went downhill right from the beginning. I was wondering what happened in the rest of the book, but couldn’t be bothered to read it. Very disappointing because I was eagerly awaiting the last book.

    Thank you!

  4. Lisa Mari
    June 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I think that Jean forgot where she was taking the story, did she forget that Ayla was going to teach the Others that the Clan are from the Mother aswell? And what about her dream to become a mother to her children, that is what she wanted above all else and what do we see, her leaving her kid to grow up with everyone else. And what of her new inventions, couldn’t she think up anymore? And she should have been the teacher of healing not the student, and she should be testing some of the new plants she has found. I also missed her searching for animals to hunt, that was one of Ayla’s gift, to search, there should have been more of that too I reckon.

    • June 6, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Yes! Another reviewer pointed out why doesn’t Ayla teach others how to domesticate animals? At this point in time, they should have a whole bunch of wolves running around, not just Wolf. It should be the start of domestication. Also, throughout the book there were hints at Ayla finding Durc, but she never does. It’s sad that the fanfiction out there is staying truer to who Ayla is as a character than what Jean wrote herself.

  5. June 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Glad to know it was a good decision I quit the series early long ago. I think I made it halfway through the Mammoth Hunters when I just got tired of the whole thing. Nothing was as good as the first book.

    • June 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      My favorite was actually The Valley of the Horses, but that probably has something to do with a 15 year old version of me reading it wanting desperately to have my own valley and run around taming wild animals…..

  6. Lisa
    July 15, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Great review…. still laughing out loud of the “Plot Nose dive off Niagara”
    I just wanted to see how the story ended….. So sad on many counts…. so utterly boring reading about cave after cave…. disappointed that the mamutoi visitors didn’t play much role and felt massively ripped off by the stupid stupid repeat of Ayla’s overdose-Jondalar-begging-for-her-return crap.
    Waiting for some talented person to take up some fan fiction and do a better job!!

    • July 15, 2011 at 8:23 am

      Thanks! I’m glad at least my review made you smile even though the book sucked. 😉

      Definitely check out the Amazon reviews. A few of the reviewers have taken it upon themselves to write a new ending for Ayla/Jondalar that are quite hilarious.

  7. gayl
    October 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I was almost worth finishing the book and then getting your view of things – your review had me more interested than the book. I stuck with it despite the poor writing, repetition and all – hoping that maybe the old Jean would materialize at the end of the story. Does anyone know what happened to her – I didn’t see her making the round on talk shows promoting the book – is she well?
    I would be interested in reading your fan fiction version of the end of this series.

    • October 24, 2011 at 8:55 am

      You have me blushing over here!

      I’m a bit too busy writing my own works for fan fiction, but it does make me want to write something completely hilarious and ridiculous. Hm……

  8. Eileen
    December 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Thank you, thank you for validating my feelings on this book! As they were wandering around those endless caves, I felt like I was reading about someone else touring a museum- and why would you read about that when you could just do it yourself? Especially when it contributes NOTHING to the plot??
    Of course, Auel never has been known to use one word when three would do, but I’m sure this book could have been published with about 1/3 as many pages and we could all be just as unsatisfied, but would have wasted less time. I vaguely remember having the same feeling at the end of the Shelters of Stone; that she had wasted her time repeating things at the beginning of the book and then had to hurry up and squeeze the whole plot into the last few chapters at the end.
    I’m embarrassed to say I was ever a fan of these books.

    • December 27, 2011 at 8:37 am

      *sighs* At least you didn’t name your cat Ayla…..

  9. Alfredo
    January 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I totally agree with your comments. I’m still in the mid of the book and everynight I doubt if I will be able to open it again the next day. I do because I love reading after all, and because it helps gain sleep better than anyother I read before. The sad thing is that this is the first book from Auel’s series that I’m reading (it was a Xmas gift) and now I doubt I’ll ever try the previous ones. Greetings from Spain and sorry for my English.

  10. kirsten zenker
    February 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Soooooo disappointed. There’s no plot for 600 pages, then the last 200 pages are regurgitated and repetitive soap opera. What happened?? Auel lost interest, and she couldn’t set boundaries between her own experiences at the caves and her work of fiction.

  11. Dena Kelley
    June 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I enjoyed all of the books up through “Shelters”. I started reading them when I was 10, I can’t count how many times I’ve read each book. What struck me about “Land of the Painted Caves” is it doesn’t even sound like Auel wrote it. For one, the characters basic personalities were totally butchered. Ayla would never have neglected Jondalar or Jonayla-her nurturing side wouldn’t have allowed it and it was the biggest reason she held back from serving the Mother in the first place. Second, Jondalar would never have chosen Marona for sex, regardless of what was happening, and there is no way in HELL Alya would have picked Laramar. She was utterly disgusted by him, she would not have chosen him. Additionally, as Jondalar never tried to beat Ranec to death, he wouldn’t have tried to beat Laramar to death. He had already lost tremendous status over his youthful indiscretion- no way would he have repeated it. Nor would the only penalty he faced for it be having to care for Laramar’s children with no loss of status. That’s ridiculous. The entire story was like it was written by someone else, not Jean Auel, and that the person who wrote it only had a passing understanding of the characters she was writing about. It’s the only book I’ve ever read where I was truly angry at the author because other than the characters being named “Jondalar” and “Ayla”, their personalities did not even resemble the former characters. It was a disgraceful ending to what was otherwise an epic series.

    • June 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      I like your point that it doesn’t sound like Auel. There has been much speculation that Auel’s mind is fading with age and thus led to less stellar writing, but I do now wonder if perhaps it was ghost written just to finish it?

      In any case, you are right that none of the behavior is within character. That is part of what makes it SO DISAPPOINTING.

      • Dena Kelley
        June 2, 2014 at 5:25 pm

        Another thing I noticed is that this book is RIFE with errors. For example, at one point she tells someone that she found wolf when a wolf was raiding HER traps. They weren’t her traps, they were Deegie’s traps. And yet she goes on about how they were her traps. In another spot, the book talks about how Wolf attacked Palidar (in Shelters). That never happened. Wolf bared his fangs at Palidar, he never attacked him. But she goes on about how the cave had been so surprised because Wolf had never attacked someone before and how Ayla had to pull him off. Didn’t. Happen. There are numerous instances of that in “Land of the Painted Caves” and that was one of the things that made me so frustrated. It truly felt like some ghost writer who had never really read the books wrote this one.

    • jamie jo jesus
      August 19, 2013 at 2:02 am

      My thoughts exactly.I had the book on reserve for a year and almost wretched with fear and apprehension! Ayla, by character, should, well in reality was, the true goddess Mother Earth.down to earth humane qualities, love, compassion, a great sense knowing ( and a willingness to share it uncondtionall,and empathy towards others. And yhe courage to stand up for what she believed in. I found Zolena, the Fiirst, yo be slyly manipulative, shrewd, and probably jealous.

    • Ayla fan
      May 3, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Yes I totally agree with. Exactly! It was not them at all. Not their personalities. Def someone else wrote this..she gave notes maybe on cave discretions she researched. No way Ayla and Jondala would of behaved this way. Plains of passage was the last novel for me. These other two so incredibly disappointing and just not right. Not the characters. And the rest was fluff, repetition and poems. Why bother to write again. You had loyal fans.

  12. Sharleen
    July 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks for the review and all the comments! I just finished struggling through Plains of Passage, and I was debating on starting Shelters of Stone. I’m glad I found this site to save me months and months of struggling through the last two books in the series. I think I’ll start looking for fan-fiction for a better ending.

    • July 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Hey it’s what book reviews are for! 🙂

      Yeahhhh, you’re definitely fine stopping after Plains of Passage. Shelters of Stone doesn’t give you much new storyline, and obviously The Land of Painted Caves is just awful.

  13. July 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

    This review totally nailed it. I read the part last night about “Jondy” cheating on Ayla and had to google this to see what others have been saying. Ayla can tame wild beasts, heal the sick, invented matches, and can weave one heck of a basket, but she can’t keep Jondalar’s–from what I’ve read over and over ….and over again–enormous manhood, that only she can fully handle, to herself. I’ve been trudging through these books for the sake of finishing up the series and I’ve read way too many caveman sex scenes and anti-climactic conflicts only to come to this. Wow.

    • July 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Lol! Thanks for this comment. The camaraderie of WHAT?! has been truly awesome. 😀

      • July 20, 2012 at 9:33 am

        True that. LOL I’ll have to go find some of this fan fiction that has been mentioned in previous comments. These Auel books have already taken up several months of my life though. Maybe I should just cut my losses and imagine that none of this ever happened.

  14. Dena Kelley
    July 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    It’s heartening to know I’m not the only person who flipped out at the how the final book ended. I still get mad when I think about the way the author (who I am convinced was not Auel for this novel- I’m certain it was a ghost writer) butchered the basic personalities of the Jondalar and Ayla characters. I was so thrilled when the final book came out, and the final book just ruined it for me. I’m sure I will continue to re-read the other books at times, but frankly I hope someone comes out with a fanfic that will put a realistic ending on the series. My primary dissatisfactions are:
    Ayla would not have neglected Jondalar or Jonayla. Period. It wasn’t in her makeup.
    Jondalar would not have chosen Marona again. No way.
    Ayla would never have chosen Laramar.
    There was no closure on the Clan. The entire series leads up to some sort of battle between the Clan and the Others and “Shelters” alluded to trading with the Clan- and then *poof*, nothing.
    What on earth happened to Brukeval? He, too, just went *poof* and left the story with no closure.
    Nothing in the final book about what happened with Joplaya and Echozar- did she live through the birth?
    About the only things I thought were authentic to Auel- and probably were penned by her years ago in preparation for this novel was the actual “Calling” for Ayla with the new verse to the Mother’s Song, and possibly the idea of a visit by Danug from the Mamutoi because that was alluded to in “Mammoth Hunters” but the actual plot of his visit was inconsistent with everyone’s character so I suspect the “Ghost Writer” handled that.
    Argh. The whole book just makes me so mad.

  15. Karin Lundell
    July 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Hi – I´m from Sweden and I am just reading the book – thank you for all the comments – I will continue to read it but my expectations are not that high anymore – pity that the book doesn´t keep the standard from the first book

    • July 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Heh, at least with lowered expectations you can maybe read it for the….humor? And then come and complain about it with the rest of us. Group comfort. 😉

  16. Maven
    August 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Plowed my way through this ponderous piece of dreck. It became obvious to me that Ms. Auel had written herself out (or possibly used up her “six-volume” outline) two books ago and no longer had anything new or interesting to say. Which is a shame, because there were a lot of potential ideas – that went nowhere. Maybe it’s time for her to just let the characters go.

    To tell the truth, I would have been quite interested in a lavishly illustrated nonfiction book about the Prehistoric Caves of southern France as visited and recounted by Jean M. Auel, author of Clan of the Cave Bear. *That* might actually have been worth reading, and I wish she’d written it instead.

    • August 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      I’m still a fan of the theory that this last entry was actually ghost written aka Auel didn’t write it….it’s the only thing that lets me still like the earlier books in the series!

      I love the idea of a nonfiction companion book to the series, though. That would have been brilliant.

  17. The OmniExplorer
    September 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Hello, my fellow Earth’s Children. I’ve read the last 4 books over the course of the last month or so, so I have a definite and continuous view of the series. I agree, the last two books appear to have been, at the very least, co-written with another author. I suspect Jean Auel’s son helped with #5 and her daughter with #6. I think the children supplied the character development and Jean supplied the info on the environment as the characters in the first 4 books were as flat as the pages they were written on, in my opinion. It was almost like a person telling a story to themself, you don’t need all that extra detail. In the last two, the characters at least have some sort of personality, though it’s all wasted

    Lack of good direction and coordination just kills the plot in the last two books. Think of the possibilities that existed that were ignored: establishing a relationship with the Clan, animal domestication, a deeper, more mystical bond with the Creator, magical/mystical happenings during her training, maybe finding out Ayla actually is a tool/aspect of the Great Earth Mother, maybe having Jonayla turn out to be an even more super version of her mother, maybe have the Doni turn Her back on Her people and things start to go sour and collapse, maybe a great earthquake at a critical time, etc., etc.

    A great idea, just the wrong author.

    Auel is great at telling the story of the land and times, it just the people and a cohesive, thrilling story she has a problem with.

    • Jamie Jo
      August 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      I agree about great story…wrong author.

  18. Belinda Templeton
    May 31, 2013 at 6:21 am

    what a load of crap, just started to read it and boy worse than reading Stephaine Meyer’s The Host. Characters seem to have lost their essence. going to read last charpter

  19. Jamie Jo
    August 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I tottaly agree with you and more…

  20. Shaye Turner
    December 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I feel the same way about LOPC, Jean Auel really missed the mark in this book, try reading Edmund A Herman’s take on the story in fan fiction “Aylas saga” it brings Aylas destiny out and ties up all the loose ends that Auel sadly missed. I have also forgiven Jondalar by reading Ed’s version. (Auel broke my heart w that
    cheating scandle) Thanks Ed Herman for making Ayla magical again.

  21. Tay Herron
    May 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I was truly looking forward to this last book. Bought it last week, read it, and was epically disappointed! I agree totally with this review. What a terribly awful way to end this series! Should have stopped at the Mammoth book. Shame.

  22. CMC
    June 2, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you for writing this review with all the spoilers. I read part of this book, out of loyalty or hope, but I cannot read any farther and I was looking for a summary so that I don’t have to finish it. Yuck, I hated this last book, thank you for slogging through it and summarizing it!

    • June 3, 2014 at 9:23 am

      You’re welcome! I’m glad my suffering answered some questions for the wise ones who stopped reading! 😉

  23. January 3, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Here is a pretty darn good Book 7 from a fanfic author – this is called The Sacred Mountain and DOES tie up loose ends that Auel never managed to, after teasing us for 30 years!!


    My main complaint is that Auel ended her relationship with Ayla when Ayla was 26 – Andy ends his book with Ayla at age 36 – surely there is more to tell about this incredible woman!!

  24. Emma
    November 18, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Wow thank you for reading the last book…I was going to read it but then he cheats on her… I mean what the fuck and she goes suicidal after having a miscarriage and she fucks that gross guy I mean come!!!!!!!!!! I fell I love with the first book so mom said I should read the others I should have stop at the Mammoth hunters, and I do agree that the 5th book just crammed every thing in at the end…. And it also hints that jondy doesn’t love her when she confesses what happened when she was a little girl at the clan summer gathering

  25. February 11, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I have read auls book over and over again since I was very young, even though I discovered them a bit late. I love them to bits. I loved the love between Ayla and jondalar. When I read the last book I was 8 months pregnant and had been waiting years for this to come out. I was sitting at work at my desk in my lunchtime in an big office landscape peacefully reading. That’s when the jerk decides to be unfaithful. I was gutted. My face turned red, I lost my breath and it actually felt like my fiancé just have sent me a text saying HE had cheated. That’s how affected I was. I may blame this on the hormones but I have always loved reading and I always get attached to a good book. So for me, this was catastrophic. I started crying so my co-workers came running thinking it was one of my pregnant mood swings that had flared up again. Maybe it were. Or may be jondalar just had betrayed me with the worst women ever! It is now 5 years since that time and I still think about it. I felt so alone. I tried finding friends who have read these books but alas. Now I have found you guys, if anyone still is here hehe. I will read the fanfiction-book though. I will also buy and read the books (all of them) again. I might have thrown them out during my disappointment 😳

    Glad to have found kindred spirits. 🙂

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Oof, I can’t imagine suffering the disappointment of reading this book while pregnant! I may have also gotten rid of my copies in a huff 😉

    • Kerry
      April 7, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      I also felt this kids personally, yes, I MUST be crazy…. Tho I have got 9 , YES NINE, children , so spent almost 15 years pregnant or breastfeeding… ( Whilst reading and rereading this series…. Looking for … Something…. I must be crazy Lol 🙂

    • Kerry
      April 7, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Hey, by the way, I have reread the last book 3 times ( Sad I know… ) And I’ve got to admit , I did find things upon rereading that I missed the first and second times. I found it easier to read the 3rd [last] time. )
      Hope this helps , if your still out there somewhere “Fellow Earth’s Children Fan” 🙂

    • Ayla fan
      May 3, 2017 at 7:12 am

      Yeh same. Loyal fans of the original Ayla and Jondala. I always when young reading these, wished for a man like Jondala lol. Fiercely loving, protective.

  26. Hello
    March 3, 2016 at 5:02 am

    The first three books were the best ones, the fourth book could count to the series but the fifth and sixth book were just plain boring. The only thing I liked with the sixth book was Danug’s visit. At the point Auel tried to explain a shovel with two pages of boring information I gave up on the book.
    Your ‘niagara falls’ reference made me laugh, sad thing is that it’s true. I agree with your review, though it’s a little exaggerated.

    • Kerry
      April 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      I agree, I did get excited about hearitwhat happened to the mammoth Hunter’s branch if aylahs extensive family tree

  27. July 25, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I just finished The Mammoth Hunter and will follow your advice and live blissfully happy with the notion that Jondular and Ayla walk towards the horizon and live happily ever after.

    • Dena Kelley
      July 26, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Personally I thought Plains of Passage and Shelters of Stone were worth reading. Plains of Passage can be a bit boring during the travel portions where the focus is so much on what they are seeing (unless you have an interest in that- I do think Auel probably did travel the length of the Danube and wrote from a perspective of having seen much of it) but I loved the visit with the Sharamudoi, the incident with the S’Armunai, and of course the return to see the Lanzadonii and the Zelandonii. In Shelters, I thought the writing and plot was consistent with her other books and enjoyed nearly all of that book. It was a lot like, I thought, the Mammoth Hunters in terms of story line. It was only the final book that I felt was so wrong.

      • Sharl Y
        July 26, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        I agree. The Plains of Passage was a bit boring, but overall enjoyable. I didn’t read Shelters of Stone, or Painted Caves. I think I made a good decision to stop with Plains.

        MadySon00- I would recommend Plains of Passage. If you enjoyed Mammoth Hunters you will probably enjoy Plains of Passage too.

  28. Kerry
    April 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Wow, I made a lot of excuses for Jean Auel until I read this review, I was right…. I wasn’t crazy, or “the only’ ……
    This was seriously disappointing……
    I reread the series 6 times!!! ( The whole 6 books, 6 times!! Yes…REALLY!! ) trying to find satisfaction…. Trying….

  29. Ayla fan
    May 3, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I totally agree with reviewer in all that was said. An incredibly boring disappointing novel. She definitely ‘mistreated the characters ‘. No way they would of behaved the way they did, from knowing them in the first 4 novels. Aly became bland. Jondalas strong undying powerful love came easily undone. Not so. I am a total fan of the first four. Shelters of Tue stone was so disappointing also, it’s like to fill pages, let’s put in earth mother songsmith she did the same in this novel but not as much. But this one so, so boring. Like reading a scientific paper on ancient terrain, rocks, cave painting. Soooo many repeated introduction, and repetitive info on Wolf, the horses, Abla. Sooo repetitive! Nothing exciting happened. Then the finale. What an absolute let down. Why past dreams of both sons if not we’d be reintroduced to Durc again or another major Clan encounter. Maybe the Others and Clan trades. At least that would be very interesting! Then her greatest revelation…giving knowledge of how conception works. Pfft. (And be great if she wrote a side novel of Durc and what happened to him. Maybe made a long journey. Ended up finding Ayla.). I wanted more interaction between the Clan and the Others!! Trades..anything. Not just some little bad encounters. I think the novelist was tired, couldn’t be bothered anymore. These are not the same characters at all. Did someone else help her write this? Waited years. First novel, Clan of the cave bear, amazing, enthralling!! My fav novel. Other 3 I still liked. Valley of horses a little boring at times. Sooo disappointing. In my imagination I have different ending. Durc finds her. Clan and others establish trades. She does have another son. What happens to Bruckvel. I’m glad at least we got to see Danung meet with her again, and word of nezzie, talut and even ranec. She could of made it so interesting. She couldn’t be bothered. Such a shame. Feel sad. Wish someone else would rewrite it. Lol

  30. Elly
    August 8, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I started reading this book long ago. I was so excited that at last the long awaited book was out in print. I have to say, I was very disappointed to the point that I only got so far into the book as I was so bored with it. I loved the first books even though Jean Auel spent too much time describing the landscapes. I overlooked this though due to the good stories. I was hoping that Ayla would see Baby again or that she would at last have a meeting with her son, Durc. Having read the review here, I’m glad I didn’t persevere with The Land of Painted Caves. Perhaps it would have been best just leaving the stories at the last book.

  31. September 26, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I wonder what happened to Aylas son. Also wondering about her dream of her two sons when she only had the one son. It’s a fantastic story but maybe one more book to answer many questions would be great

  32. Gillian
    September 7, 2018 at 4:42 am

    So glad to find I was not the only one who was terribly disappointed with the final two books in terms of plot (or lack thereof) and the degree of frustrating almost meaningless repetition on the part of the author. Very early in the series I started scanning through sections of ‘oh fuck here we go again with the same description of what I’ve already read more than a dozen times’ to move forward with the story. By the third book, The Mammoth Hunters, my mind kept going, this is repete repete repete….and I wondered if the author was just using Word ‘cut and paste’ to fill her books to give them unnecessary volume. I understood that in subsequent novels it might be necessary to refresh readers memories as to the history that shaped the characters, especially if each book was a first read as a stand alone novel of the whole story, but the level of detailing was excessive and done much too often even within the same novel. Geeze, how many times can you include the all of same information of the earlier books into each of the sequels. Either that or she was intent on insulting the readers capacity to read information and retain it. I also felt that her character development was very poor, and found myself incredibly annoyed with Jondalars (weak) character/personality – so wishy washy and I personally felt he wasn’t nearly strong or deep enough in character or abilities to compliment Ayla. The author’s understanding of psychological/emotional angst in matters of love was very childish/teenager like and did great disservice to their character’s supposed intelligence overall. Also she would often build up interest in a character and then fail to develop it satisfactorily. Classic example of this was Jondalars mother Marthona who would have been a lot more powerful and influential later in life as her earlier descriptors alluded to. I too, felt that Zolena (first Zelandoni) was characterised as being scheming manipulative and power hungry and that her later relationship with Jondalar would not have been nearly as ambivalent as was portrayed given their history. Zolena reminded me of the beginning of manipulative corruption of the earliest religious Church leaders that followed into more modern times.The constant angst as to whether Ayla would ever see Durc again, thus hinting that it might happen was a huge let down. I was also surprised at how little love and affection for her own biological daughter Jonayla was described compared to what she felt for Whinney, Baby or Durc for example and constantly wondered if she loved her at all. I pushed myself to read all the novels back to back, despite ongoing frustration at the writing style and content and did so more for the history of the period and how that was woven into some sort of credible understanding of the development of humanity. Whilst the author’s research was excellent, her embellishment and portrayal (as an act of pure imagination by her own admission) was in my opinion a wee bit over the top. My biggest take aways from these novels was an idea of how matriarchal society might have come to be taken over by the patriarchy, and understanding of how and why the Neanderthals died out and just what was lost with them, as well as a renewed interest in plant based medicine. As for the actual storyline….yeh…well….nup! By contrast I have also recently read the ‘Outlander’ series of novels by Diana Gabaldon and the difference in the quality of writing sequential novels is incomparable. Personally I feel Jean M Auel has been overly praised for quite mediocre writing. Quantity does not equate to quality.

    August 29, 2019 at 11:22 am

    This was so spot on.

  34. Shavarne
    October 27, 2020 at 5:37 am

    I agree with with this review 100%. I was heartbroken reading this book. Every page was not worth the time it took to read it. And WHAT THE HELL!?! Jondalar fucked someone else!?? I’m done. I dont tell people to read the series anymore. It crashed and burned! So freaking sad😭😭

  35. Jo Miller
    September 19, 2021 at 11:06 am

    After reading that review I am not going to read #6 book of Jean Auel! Really? How can she disappoint her readers like that if it’s true! I didn’t realize that this book existed because I was reading other genres. It’s sad because up to then the books were so well written!

    • September 19, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Oh it’s definitely all true! I was a huge fan of the series and very disappointed in this book.

  36. chsuperme
    August 13, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    We made the mistake of reading the last book, hoping is wouldn’t be as bad as the reviews. OMG, where were the editors when Auel’s son took over this book. That’s what happened right?! Wtf!!!! It was worse than I imagined possible. This review helped an emotionally invested couple get through the death of characters they followed over 5 other volumes. It’s like the main characters had personality overhauls. And the repetition was that of writing a paper in high school and trying to meet the word and page quota. I can’t even. Thank you for summarizing our pain.

    • August 13, 2022 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! Yes, I absolutely loved the series, I even named a pet after one of the characters, so I was totally devastated by the turn this book took. I decided to try to have a sense of humor about it, and I’m glad it’s helping others.

  37. Greger Jönsson
    January 19, 2023 at 11:28 am

    Exquisite, extraordinary, insightful….
    This is probably the best novel series I’ve ever read! At the same time, I have to admit that I took a long break 30 years ago after reading The Mammoth Hunters. Like many others, I then thought that the action in this series of books was too slow, so I instead preferred authors such as Dan Brown, J.R. Tolkien, etc.
    When I now return to our Finnish-American author’s fantasies about how life in the Stone Age could have been, I was completely taken by the grand romance in Ayla and Jondalar’s life. I read the three final books straight through and I feel completely captivated by how the author describes the relationship between Ayla and Jondalar. Why did I think it was so boring before and so good now? Maybe because in this love story about the children of the earth I recognize myself so well from the life I myself have lived.
    My wife and I grew up in different countries. She was invited to my country because of her good academic record and has been such a great asset to all of us. When we met, I learned her language and she learned my language, and we stayed here to get married and start a family. Some acquaintances of mine hated the country where my wife comes from, so of course I had to end these acquaintances. We now have three wonderful children who have grown up and moved away from home. She was pregnant with a fourth child, but miscarried. My wife can read my mind, always knows what I want, and satisfies my every wish. At the same time, it happens that we argue, I want to divorce, kill myself, completely crazy, right? We always end up reconciling, we love each other more than ever and we understand each other better and better with each passing day. Can one then be unfaithful even though there is only one great love in life?
    I think many, including me, were heartbroken the moment Ayla catches Jondalar with his ex-girlfriend who he was once engaged to, but left because he didn’t feel a deeper connection with her. There was a physical attraction between these people and it is possible that Marona would have been happy with Jondalar. Well, is it now reasonable that a modern Jondalar in today’s society would be leftist with such a close crush at a time when the wife is away on a long, long business trip. Yes, of course it is. It happens every day. It doesn’t mean that Jondalar loves Ayla any less for that, but it’s also natural that a deep cold rift develops between them.
    The book and the story have a happy and just ending. Both Jondalar and Ayla needed to receive a suitable punishment in order to grow up and become adults. We learn that they reconcile and plan more children. And we also learn that they will love each other, and no one else, as long as they live. But if there were more slips, there would be the possibility of renewed reconciliation and forgiveness. A good ending I would say.

  38. Amy McClintock
    January 24, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you for a spot on review. I hated this book. Almost (and maybe still will) threw it in the fireplace.

    • January 24, 2023 at 4:28 pm

      It was so sad to me because I loved the rest of the series so much (I even named my cat after Ayla!) But then…this!

      • Amy McClintock
        January 24, 2023 at 6:35 pm

        Totally agree. I read the series (minus the last book) about every 3 years. I’m just finishing Plains of Passage. Ayla has captured my heart and imagination like no other. Shelters of Stone was rather reductive–the Jondalar and Ayla as we know them after Plains of Passage would have seen right through Marona’s nonsense, but I still enjoyed the book. It seems that Auel’s son took over the writing in Painted Caves, which I believe reveals his intense jealousy and misunderstanding of Ayla and Jondalar’s characters. Hopefully he’ll find a nice career in truck driving or something. If a 7th book is written, I sure hope they find a brilliant woman writer who understands Jean Auel’s original intent to take it on. Otherwise, they should just leave it.

      • January 25, 2023 at 9:59 pm

        It being her son certainly explains the cringe-inducing far-mother plot! Valley of Horses is my favorite of the series. I should re-read it. I haven’t in a while.

  39. JAKe
    February 3, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    Not sure how many men read these books, but I got the first 2 from my grandfather after he was done, and really liked the first 3; Mammoth Hunters was one of my favorite books ever, but you are spot on… the last 3 got progressively more terrible, and just plain boring. Incredibly so by Painted Caves. I don’t even remember anything about the black stone and Clan’s spirit in it. That book was so disappointing, and I guess I was still hoping she would one day see or hear something about her son. My favorite part of the devastating review was that there is a link just under it- “Buy now”. I wonder how many clicked on it, lololol.

    • February 4, 2023 at 10:59 am

      It’s a good question how many men read these books. I’d be interested to know!

      It’s my standard to always include purchase links, even when I don’t like a book. The only time I’ve ever removed the purchase link was on a parenting memoir. Years after I wrote that review, DCFS removed the children from the home. As soon as I heard that news, I went and removed the purchase link from the review. But if it’s just a case of me personally not liking the book….the purchase link stays in.

      • Jon Dahl
        May 4, 2023 at 7:19 am

        “How many men read these books?” Maybe men and women experience the story in different ways. I don’t think that the Cro-Magnons nor the Neanderthals thought that babies came from mixed spirits. And I don’t think that Mrs. Auel ever thought that anyone believed in mixed spirits seriously. It was a smokescreen to mislead the reader, or a way to include several and different liberate sex relations in the story. I think she wrote the whole storyline, including the Jondalar-Marona-relation, before she started the first book, and that the main purpose (Aylas’ mission) was to advocate the relation between a man and a woman in which your passionate love is addressed to the other person in the relation only. And that you should not let anyone from outside destroy that relation. That is what Danug told to Ayla and Jondalar in the end of book 6 (like a priest at a wedding).
        It came as a chock for me when Jondalar was cheating on Ayla, but reading the Mammoth Hunters was 10 times worse and made me feel extremely sad – especially when she got engaged to that confident and egocentric Mamutoi man, and Jondalar was close to let the river relieve him from all despair. In book 3-5, Ayla never understood why he became so sad. It wasn’t until she experienced the same thing (when Jondalar had sex with Marona) that she realized how he felt and she could experience similar feelings. These turbulent emotions that can make the brain spin like the drum of a washing machine leading to fatal consequences.
        Was there any great mission, or world-changing thing in their story? No, but I liked their teamwork, the interaction between our heroes. Agree, last book, sitting alone in a dark cave is not much of a teamwork – how boring! However, I have visited a cave in southern Belgium that was close to a Neanderthal settlement (no paintings), and it felt as spiritual as in a church or even better. In total, I think Ayla did more than enough for humanity and I couldn’t ask any more world-changing thing from her. Oh, no! There is! There is one little thing I would like to ask her to do (if I may rewrite the story a little bit). In the end of book 6, I would like her to return the gift to Danug. The gift that he brought to her from Ranec. And I would be extremely impressed by her if she would say: – I do not need this gift, and I don’t want it. This kind of gift was given to me before, and it transformed into a growing wedge between me and the love of my life, and I don’t want that to happen again. Please bring it back to Ranec and tell him “You need to take care about Tricie. She is your wife. She will probably be very sad if she finds out that you send romantic gifts to me. Good luck!”. / Jon Dahl (pen name)

  40. Kath
    March 13, 2023 at 7:44 am

    This is the best review I have ever read. 5 stars.

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