The Mammoth Hunters (Earth’s Children: Book 3)
Author: Jean Auel
Book three of the Earth’s Children series took everything I liked about the first book and also what I didn’t like about the 2nd book and put it all together. On the positive side, Ayla is once again forced to acclimate herself with a group of people who have different customs than herself. Whereas in book one, Ayla is taken in by a group of Clan (neanderthal people), here she meets a group of individuals who look like herself (cro-magnon). While that shouldn’t require an adjustment, the nature vs nurture elements leads to a very interesting question: is Ayla happier with the neanderthal’s who raised her or the cro-magnon’s that are like herself?
The only other person she’s met like herself is Jandalar, who was everything I disliked about the second book in the series and is once again the worst part of this book as well. The rest of this series is so intelligent, and interesting, with parts anthropology meeting fantasy, Whenever Jandalar is present, the whole thing turns into a bad romance novel. The main conflict of this book is whether Jandalar will still want to be with Ayla, knowing that his people may shun her because she was raised by the Clan.
When Jandalar isn’t stretching out the plot of the book by avoiding Ayla and pouting to himself, he’s once again bringing the greatest sexual pleasures in the history of mankind (prehistoric to present) with his giant wang. Auel obviously has fun writing these sex scenes, but if I have to read one more time about how perfectly Ayla is able to fit Jandalar inside her, I’m going to turn this book series into a drinking game. In order to really ramp up the tension, a rival for Ayla’s love shows up in the form of a dark skinned carver with an equally gigantic member (yeah, I’m not even kidding, the dramatic tension for a large part of this book is whether Jandalar will lose the woman of his dreams to a black dude… this certainly hasn’t aged very well).
But wait, I’m giving this four stars?? Yeah, because everything not Jandalar related was awesome.
The supporting cast in this book was a lot of fun, with Auel creating a tribe led by a guy who appreciates oddities. Ayla finds another animal and domesticates it, somewhere between the lion and horse she’s already had. Also, this was the closest I’ve come to crying while reading a book that I can remember. The funeral scene for one of the characters hit every right note, and I honestly still get sad just thinking about it. I really love the world Auel has come up with, and when it steers clear of Jandalar it’s five star writing all the way. Here’s hoping book four keeps with the good and less with the bad moving forward.