The sixth book in the Earth's Children series, published March 2011.
THE LAND OF THE PAINTED CAVES continues the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni -- one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers. Once again, Jean Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago, rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today's news.
If you haven’t read the previous books, you will have no idea what I am typing about.
After 11 years, I was so happy to be able to read this brand new book. Finally, the series is finished. I am happy, but also disappointed in the book.
As usual, there is a lot of repeating of the previous happenings. I skipped most of that. I don’t need to read the Song of the Mother 10 times. The book sometimes skips a few years, which was fine by me. I would have liked some more explaining of Ayla’s education to become a Zelandoni. Some more details.
I would have liked some more details on the little children with the worthless parents, some more helping by Jondalar and Ayla, and perhaps the other people in charge. Not just that tiny bit in the beginning and in the end of the book. It seemed to me that in the end it wasn’t necessary as the eldest sister and her mate and her oldest brother did a fine job of it.
I absolutely hated the fact that Jondalar started an affair with Marona, because Ayla was so busy with her study and sometimes had to forgo Pleasure. If he really needed some woman, why her? And after Ayla found out, why did both of them have to be so dense about it, not talking to each other at all? Didn’t they learn that lesson in book 3 already?
And when Ayla and Zelandoni, Jondalar, Jonayla and some others take a journey, a start of Ayla’s doni-journey to visit the sacred places of the Zelandoniers, I got bored soon. Cave after cave is being described. The journey itself was good to read, the meeting of new people and stuff, but after three caves, I had quite enough of that.
I liked the appearance of two of the Mamutiërs in the end, with a little info on their clan. Danug certainly was a great character.
Sometimes I liked Ayla, but often thought her spineless. She could have stood up for herself more. And there are some loose ends, some threads not fulfilled, so perhaps a new book is possible. Will she ever see Durc again, like she dreamed?
I found the dialogue often not fitting that time period, but as I was reading in Dutch, that could be the translation.
I admit, the book is way too heavy to read comfortably, and I skipped and skimmed a lot of it, just to be able to finish it. Perhaps when re-reading I will read a bit more careful. But for now, the series is done for and I am content with that.
I usually like the descriptions of the plants and animals living in that era, the uses, the many ways of preparation. I kind of missed that, I like it when Ayla heals people, or does new things. No new inventions in this book.
Reading my review back, there are a lot of things I did not really like, but all in all, I enjoyed reading the book. And at the end, it had me crying.
Grading this one is difficult. I’ll go for 7 stars.