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Leaving the valley of horses that has become her home, with Jondalar, the handsome man she has nursed back to health and come to love, Ayla embarks on a journey that will lead her to the Mamutoi: the Mammoth Hunters.
But as she gradually settles into this new life amongst a people at first strange and disturbingly different. Ayla finds herself irresistibly drawn to the magnetic Ranec, their master-carver. Ultimately she is compelled to make a fateful choice between the two men.
Earth's Children Series:
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone
The Land of Painted Caves
Visit Jean M. Auel's Website for more information.
In the third installment of the Earth's Children series Ayla finally gets to meet more people of her own kind (the Cro-Magnon race she calls the Others). Spending the winter with Jondalar and the Lion Camp of the Mamutoi Ayla learns about the differences between the Others and the Clan (Neanderthals) she was brought up by. Although she suffers from prejudice from those who believe the Clan who raised her are nothing but animals she also finally finds acceptance and a sense of belonging. When the handsome carver Ranec shows an interest in her Jondalar is overcome with jealousy and Ayla is forced to make a very difficult decision. Should she stay with the people who have made her so welcome and mate with Ranec or should she leave with Jondalar and make the difficult journey to his homeland?
Although it isn't my favorite book in the series I still thoroughly enjoyed The Mammoth Hunters. I absolutely loved the Mamutoi and finding out about their way of life and also enjoyed watching Ayla interact with a group of people for the first time. Although not all of the Lion Camp are willing to accept her because of her background some of the camp go out of their way to make her feel welcome and we are introduced to some great characters. My favorite would have to be Rydag who is a child born of mixed spirits who was adopted by the mate of the camp leader. Nezzie is such a caring woman and her love for Rydag is heartwarming to see but watching the rest of the group grow to care for him after Ayla teaches them to communicate with him was one of my favorite parts of the book.
Another character I fell in love with was the newest addition to Ayla's animal family. I'm not going to say more because I don't want to spoil it for you but I defy you not to fall in love with him! His interactions with the rest of the camp and particularly with the horses made me laugh out loud and were great fun to read about.
I have to confess that the love triangle in this book drives me crazy. Although Ayla's behaviour is understandable because of her upbringing I could almost strangle Jondalar at times. He is so jealous of Ranec that he can't see straight and you want to bang his and Ayla's heads together and make them have a simple conversation that would quickly resolve everything. By the end of the book I'm almost ready to give up on him completely and hoping that Ayla will stay with Ranec and the Mamutoi! I am happy with the way things turned out in the end though.
A common complaint about this series is that Ayla is a little too perfect and that she and Jondalar seem to invent nearly every advancement made by humans throughout the Ice Age. I'll admit that this does seem to be the case but I can easily forgive this because it allows us to see in detail how these advances probably did come about. If you suspend belief that it was all discovered by 2 people I'm sure you'll find it just as interesting as I do. Another negative comment I've seen several times is the amount of detailed description Jean M Auel goes into but for me this is one of the positives of the series. She has obviously put in a great deal of research about the era and as it is something I knew practically nothing about before picking up her books I find it fascinating to read about. Some things do get a little repetitive throughout the series but I don't really find that a problem until we get to the fourth book in the series The Plains of Passage. Overall this is still an all time favorite series of mine and one I would highly recommend.
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.