The Shelters of Stone
Earth’s Children Book Five
Author: Jean M. Auel
Book five of the Earth’s Children series has Ayla and Jondalar finally reaching their destination of Jondalar’s people the Zelandonii. Five books into this series, there’s gotten to be a routine whenever Ayla meets new people. At first their skeptical of the way she talks, then as the natives become aware of her “control” over animals, her ability to heal, and her inventions (the fire stone and spear thrower) she wins over the community and is loved by all. Along the way she shares stories about her adoption of a baby lion, being raised by the Clan, and living alone in a valley by herself for years.
I wish I could say that this book takes a radically different turn and enters all new territory, but really it’s more of the same on a longer scale here. Still, I’m giving the book four stars because there is a charm that Auel brings to her story and the characters are still a delight to spend time with. The story is very similar to the story in book three, The Mammoth Hunters, where Ayla and Jondalar spent the bulk of the book with the Mamutoi people. The Mamutoi had a more interest cast of supporting characters, but Jondalar was less annoying in this book. I’m not sure which book I enjoyed more. I’d probably give the edge to The Mammoth Hunters just because of how much the Rydag story touched me.
The main conflicts in this book are if Ayla will be accepted by 100% of the population of the largest settlement of cro-magnon man, as pretty early on she’s accepted by 95% of them. Among the hold outs are Jondalar’s former lover, the local drunk, and a jealous holy person. For the most part though, this is a story about Ayla, Wolf, the horses and Jondalar getting acclimated successfully. Ayla also needs to determine if she will follow the path of Kreb and become a holy woman or forsake that to stay completely devoted to Jondalar and her soon to be born baby.
The biggest drawbacks to the last three books have all been Jondalar related. God’s gift to women was much less annoying this book than ever before. In addition, the long drawn out over the top sex scenes were also toned down in this book, with only two of them that really made me cringe in their ridiculousness. At this point, Ayla has already invented the needle, spear thrower, fire, and domestication of animals, so Auel wisely tones down how many incredible feats she accomplishes. Here she discovers a hidden cave, brings men’s clothing into fashion for women, and figures out how babies are made.
With one book left in the series, I’m excited to spend another lengthy book in the world Auel has created. Although none of the books so far has captured what made the first book so amazing (namely the relationship between man and neanderthal), the rest of the series has been a very cool trip to a civilization that has been extensively researched and developed by the author.