8318666Well, it took me a little longer than expected, but I wanted to start this Ja No Read Mo with a challenge and that’s what I got.

Welcome ladies and gents to the Land of Painted Caves, the sixth and most likely final book in the Earth’s Children‘s series by Jean M. Auel, and the wonderufl conclusion to an ancient and epic love story.

Now normally I would post a separate post for all the previous books, but really each one can be summed up in one paragraph, despite the fact that they’re all 800+ page books.

The thing with this series is that while not a lot happens story wise, each book spans several years of time and you enjoy the meandering through the ancient landscape that the first people of this world once lived in.

So the one that started it all was Clan of the Cave Bear.  There we meet out heroine Ayla, a homosapien child, who is orphaned and adopted by neanderthals.  This one is all about her childhood growing up with a people who’s first language is body and sign language.  Obviously she goes through many trials, and in the end is kicked out of the only home she had ever really known.

Book two is Valley of Horses, and Ayla’s journey continues in her trying to find a new place to call home, and she comes across a valley where-surprise surprise-some horses live.  She settles down, raises a few animals for companionship, and generally lives on her own until our hero stumbles upon her.  Jondalar is the man of the hour, and he is introduced here, traveling with his brother on a great journey to explore.  The brother is killed, Jondalar is wounded, and Ayla saves him.  So now this man and woman who were brought up incredibly differently must learn to live together and communicate and of course they fall in love and when Jondalar chooses to return home, Ayla goes with him.

Book three is The Mammoth Hunters, where Ayla and Jondalar live with a tribe of people for a while and due to their still learning each others customs and traditions, almost lose each other through misunderstanding and jealousy.

Book four is the Plains of Passage and this one is most likely the most epic.  Ayla and Jondalar are still traveling, still meeting new people, still facing the trail and tribulations that traveling during the ice age entails.  They cross a glacier, Jondalar gets kidnapped to father children for this ancient Amazonian tribe of women, and they finally reach Jondalar’s home.

Book five is the Shelters of Stone, and its all about reuniting and adaptation.  Jondalar is reuinited with his family, and Ayla is dropped head first into a culture and civilization she has never known before, among people who love, hate, fear and are indifferent to her.  She and Jondalar mate, have a child, and Ayla is pressed into service as a … well for lack of a better term lets call her a shaman.  Or shamaness if there is such a thing.

See?  One paragraph each.  The draw of all these books like I said is not so much what happens in them, but the world that the author paints for us.  Its an ancient, primal world full of a simple and clean beauty.  The people are refreshingly honest and straight forward, hard working, and it is interesting to get a glimpse to see how our ancestors lived so long ago.

And now in book six, Land of Painted Caves, Ayla and Jondalar are raising their baby Jonayla among their friends and family, and Ayla’s training as a shaman is progressing but at what cost?

The Earth’s Children’s series can be easily called a love story, for that is what is focuses on.  The love between Jondalar and Ayla is strong and stands up to most every obstacle that gets put in their path, by others or themselves.  It is epic, vibrant, all encompassing and above all else it is moving.

Now don’t get me wrong, each book has some rough spots.  The biggest thing is that when people in the book are passing on information to each other that the reader already knows, they take a page or two to go over all of it again.  And that does get a little tiring.  I think Plains of Passage was the slowest one overall, as not much happens except them traveling.  They don’t settle down with any one people for any great length of time, and while their journey is fascinating and epic, it is quite boring.

I really liked Land of Painted caves, it was a fitting end to the series and actually made me want to re-read at least the first two.  Maybe I’ll take those one once Ja No Read Mo is done…

Enjoy folks.

Next time, on Ja No Read Mo 2013: Spartacus: Morituri by Mark Morris.

13129857Batiatus and Solonius vie with each other for the favor of one Marcus Licinius Crassus, an Equites who aims at the Praetorship. Thrilled by the bloody violence of the fights, Crassus decides to set up his own gladiatorial school. In the arena, the Batiati are ground down by injury and death, while Crassus’ numbers never seem to shrink. Can the Ludus survive against such odds?