The whole series, by Jean M Auel, is set in prehistoric times.. the neanderthal age to be more precise.. the author has done a lot of research for each and every book in this series and has tried to re-create the scenario to the best of her abilities.. a wonderful effort!
(please pick these books up only if you have a lot of time to spend reading..they are HUGE!..:) but its really worth the effort and the time spent!)
Book 1 : The Clan of the Cave Bear
When i first read about this book in hillary clinton's bookshelf, i wasn't too sure if i would like it..firstly, the name sounded wierd..and secondly, shesaid something about liking archaeology being the reason she liked this book..but despite this, i decided to pick this book up anyways.. at first sight, i was terrified.. i have read big books but this one seemed humongous..about 700 pages of small print and i wasn't sure if i would ever complete it! and complete it i did! it was more an epic than a story.. the story begins with a little girl losing her family to an earthquake.. she survives and is saved by a bunch of wandering people.. the book is how she is accepted amongst them though she is different in many ways.. she looks very different from them and this is the main reason she is shunned by them in the beginning..eventually, they learn to accept her differences and treat her as one of them..they are the clan of the cave bear and ayla, the girl, grows up with them.. the life of the clan is described in detail in this book..the clan doesnt talk..they communicate with each other using hand signals!!.. when you finish reading it, you know you'd be able to survive if you were suddenly transported back in time and left with the clan..you really would.. their customs, their mannerisms, their food habits, huunting habits etc is vividly explained.. ayla is adopted by the medicine woman of the clan and she starts learning about various herbs and their uses etc.. its really interesting to learn the ways of the people of the ice age.. things we tend to take for granted these days didnt even exist at those times.. the book ends with ayla being sent away from the clan by the new leader who has never liked her from the beginning.. you can't wait to start the next book and see what happens to her..
Book 2 : The Valley of the Horses
If i thought the first novel was gripping, the second was even better.. after getting banished by the clan, ayla learns to live on her own in the valley of the horses.. in the process of living alone and hunting for herslf, she discovers new things and makes many inventions that would benefit the future generations immensely.. she adopts a horse and a cave lion and leads a peaceful life until her fate's crossed with that of jondalar.. jondalar travels from his settlement for over 3 years with his brother.. their journey is described parallely with ayla's stay in the valley of the horses..eventually, ayla saves his life and they fall in love..only when she meets jondalar does ayla realise that the people who saved her life and brought her up are actually primitive beings called flatheads..they are not as developed as the rest of the people in the ice age..the rest of the people (referred to as The Others by the clan) can actually talk and are more advanced.. they actually consider tyhe flatheads as animals and hate them! She learns to speak from Jondalar and learns about the other things happening outside the flathead world.. by the end of this book, they decide to leave the valley and start moving.. they take the horses (the horse has given birth in the middle of all this and lion has moved away)and begin their journey..
Book 3 : The Mammoth Hunters
In the third book of this amazing series, ayla and jondalar stop at a cave of the mammoth hunters.. they get along beautifully with the mammoth hunters and soon the whole cave is soo fond of them.. they learn to love ayla despite the fact that shes been with flatheads all her life.. they become so attached to the two and ayla's adopted by them.. ranec is a handsome man in that cave and he falls in love with ayla.. she finds herself attracted to him too and doesnt quite seem capable of making the decision between Jondalar and Ranec.. Ranec and Ayla plan to get married. but then, a mammoth hunt and circumstances make ayla realise her true love.. at the end of the book , ayla and jondalar leave the mammoth hunters to go back to his place..
Book 4 : The Plains of Passage
The first book in this series that kinda dragged a little.. i personally thought it was a little below par.. but i guess it was unavoidable... the fourth book is about ayla ande jondalar's travels.. they leave the mammoth camp and start travelling towards jondalar's home.. now, basically, the whole book is set in europe.. jondalar lives somewhere around where france is right now and the mammoth camp is roughly somewhere to the left of czech.. but i am not too clear about that.. i didnt study the map in that much detail.. so its basically a pretty long journey and it has been described in detail.. they meet all the camps that jondalar met on his way south and those were the interesting bits.. and they also have na encounter with a "bad" camp.. that was pretty interesting too..but the part that dragged was the travel bit.. i was not too interested in the flora and fauna description of europe of those days and detailed descriptions of the different kinds of vegetation and the animals that survived there etc etc kinda got to me after a while.. i soon started skipping the description bits..(just a cursory glance so i dont miss anything) and that kinda helped me finish the book faster too!:)
by the end of the book, ayla and jondalar finally reach his camp.. wonder what the next book has in store!!:)
Book 5 : The Shelters of Stone
yet to read...:)