Earth’s Children Series by Jean M Auel Book Reviews Part 1
The Earth’s Children Series by Jean M Auel is a series outside my usual genre, but historical fiction turned historical romance series is amazing! This is a series that I feel is worth sharing with the world, no matter what genres you tend to read. If you are interested in a deep, moving story about humanity and its potential evolution in the time of pre-history then this could be a series for you.
The Earth’s Children Series consists of six books:
- The Clan of the Cave Bear
- The Valley of Horses
- The Mammoth Hunters
- The Plains of Passage
- The Shelter’s Of Stone
- The Land of Painted Caves
The first book was published in 1980 and the last published in 2011.
Each book is packed with dense information about paleolithic man, neanderthals, the ice age, and various aspects of life during that time period ranging from hunting and gathering practices and tools to potential social structure and interactions. Quite a bit of the books read like textbooks because they are packed with so much information, but the human aspects of the stories that Auel creates feel so real, tangible, and justified that it makes up for all the dry data dumps.
This review will be broken down into parts for ease of reading and writing. There will be two more posts after this one, discussing the other books in this series. Look forward to reading part 2 which will include my reviews of The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, and The Plains of Passage and reading part 3 which will include my reviews of The Shelters of Stone and The Land of Painted Caves.
My Overall Impressions of Earth’s Children
The overall story arc of the Earth’s Children series is brilliant!
The main problem is that the execution of the character arcs fell a little flat in the last book of the series, but I’ll get into more detail about that in my review of The Land of Painted Caves.
The one thing that I did enjoy after reading all six books together was a realization that I came to that The Clan of the Cave Bare (book 1 of the series) basically gives the reader a mini view of what the whole series is supposed to be about. The first book foreshadows that the whole series is ultimately about human evolution — where is humanity heading and who will move on into the future and who will die out. It shows how people’s thoughts can evolve from one paradigm to another.
The transformation of the heroine, Ayla, over the course of the six books, is the vehicle used to show this evolution to the reader. This whole concept of expanding man’s consciousness is all quite profound and provocative.
There is a plausible and unique perspective on human consciousness that is explored and awakened within these stories through the main characters, especially Ayla. There are thought provoking ideas about how our consciousness as humans could have evolved from more primitive thinking into our more modern modes of thinking. I don’t want to get too specific here because I think the ideas are part of figuring this out for yourself as the reader is part of the experience of reading the books as a whole.
This series is a story about being different and being true to yourself. It’s a story about fulfilling your calling and the pitfalls and sacrifices you make (both good and bad) to fulfill that destiny. It’s a story about how sometimes your beliefs need to change in order to move on to the next level of understanding.
You grow to care for all the characters introduced at various times of the series. Each person, no matter how short their appearance is a unique individual that jumps out onto the page. Even with all of the data dumping and history lessons you can’t help but identify with the characters.
Now I will start with my review of the first book in the Earth’s Children Series…
The Clan of the Cave Bear Book Review
The main character in The Earth’s Children series is Ayla, a cro-magnon human. Orphaned as a five year-old due to a natural disaster, Ayla is found and adopted by a group of neanderthals. She grows into a woman within the neanderthal culture, which endows her with a very different life perspective than other fro-magnon humans of the time. As part of Alya’s evolution she is forced to leave her new people to find her own kind. She spends several years alone and learns to take care of herself and utilize the gifts bestowed upon her to survive. Her solitary life forces her to do things that other humans, who live in groups, wouldn’t think of.
There are thought provoking ideas about how our consciousness as humans could have evolved from more primitive thinking into our more modern modes of thinking. It’s a story about being different and being true to yourself. It’s a story about fulfilling your calling and the pitfalls and sacrifices you make (both good and bad) to fulfill that destiny.
Ayla is one of my favorite characters in modern fiction. She is a smart, adaptable character who is curious; she questions and analysis everything and yet at the same time has an extreme desire to be fit in and be accepted. She is so different from those around her that she often has to rein in her true nature in order to be accepted by the society, but her loving nature and willingness to give of herself coaxes people to look beyond her differences and accept her. At the same time her true nature is what helps her to say alive in the fiercely hard times of her life. In my opinion, Ayla is a character to be admired and a great example of a “strong female” character.
The Story Seen Through My Writer’s Lens
This book is still quite amazing. Even though there’s a lot of data dumping in Aule’s writing style, much of the information is needed to paint the expansive world for the reader. I mean come on, are you an expert on how to make tools from stone and wood or an herbalist? I’m certainly not. Yeah, there’s a lot of talk in the writing community about how you need to integrate these details into the story, but to be honest, that’s half of the reason so many people love this book. There are some scenes where the characters explain why they do what they do, but that can’t always be done because that would not be authentic to the society that’s been created. Sometimes the characters themselves don’t understand why they do things, they just do them and the reader must be given the reader by narration, which usually consists of lengthy description and explanations. And for The Clan of the Cave Bear, this writing style works.
Of all the books in The Earth’s Children series, this is my favorite. It’s one of the most unique stories I’ve read and you learn a lot of accurate history from the novel.
What’s interesting is that this book was published in 1980 and if you consider much of the recent scientific debates about neanderthals, it’s interesting what direction Auel decided to take with the society of the Clan.
If you are to read only one book from the Earth’s Children series, this would be the one I would suggest whole heartedly.
Have you ever read Clan of the Cave Bear or any other of the books from the Earth’s Children Series? Leave a comments, I’d love to chat about these books.