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Its heroine is Ayla, a courageous and indomitable young woman whose story begins when she is a five-year-old orphan adopted by the Clan, a group of Neanderthal.
Ayla inspires first surprise, then wariness and finally acceptance by the Clan. She is cared for by its medicine woman Iza and its wise holy man Creb. But she makes an implacable enemy of the group's future leader. Broud does all he can to destroy her, but Ayla is a survivor.
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.
Ayla is just 5 years old when she loses her entire family and everyone she has ever known to a cave in caused by an earthquake. Completely alone and without the skills she needs to survive she wanders aimlessly until she is injured by a cave lion and she is close to death when members of the Clan of the Cave Bear find her. Iza is a medicine woman and although the child is one of the "Others" (a Cro-Magnon human) and very different to the Clan (who are Neanderthals) she is unable to walk away from a child who is in pain. With the permission of the Clan leader Brun she takes the young child with her and helps to heal her wounds. Ayla now finds herself living amongst a people who are very different to the ones she was born to, first she must learn to communicate but the hardest thing is to adopt their traditions and behave in the manor that is expected of her. She grows to love those who care for her but she makes an enemy of Broud, the future leader of the Clan, which is sure to cause problems for her in the future.
I have been a huge fan of this series for about 10 years now and despite the fact I've read all of the books at least 5 times I still love The Clan of the Cave Bear as much as I did the very first time I read it. Set around 35,000 years ago at the time of the last Ice Age this is the first book in an epic series that follows Ayla on her journey from child to adult. This series is like taking a step back in time and it feels like you have experienced everything that Ayla goes through right alongside her.
Ayla is without a doubt one of my favorite fictional characters, she suffers so much hardship but she never gives in and she always fights to survive. Her life with the Clan isn't easy, their traditions are very different to those she was brought up with and she finds it hard to understand why she isn't allowed to do the things she wants to do. She is adopted by Iza who is an incredibly skilled medicine woman and Creb who is the Clan's Mog-Ur (spiritual leader). Iza and Creb are both fantastic characters, they have taken in a young child despite her differences and do their best to love her and keep her safe. I can assure you you'll never think of Neanderthals in the same way after getting to know the members of the Clan, each of them are so realistic it feels like you have actually met them.
Jean M. Auel's descriptions of the Clan's way of life and the land in which they live are fascinating and show the amount of research that has gone into the creation of the series. She manages to impart an incredible amount of information but it is done in such a way that I didn't once feel bored when reading in fact I loved learning about the medicinal uses for plants, the tools they use and how they were made. Although this series is marketed as young adult I would recommend it for older teens and adults. The Clan of the Cave Bear does contain a rape scene that some may find difficult to read but this isn't included for dramatic effect, it fits in well with the story and I believe was something that needed to be included. This series shows all sides of life both good and bad which is one of the things that makes it so interesting to read. I have no doubt that after reading this story you will be just as hooked as I am and I'm sure you'll end up devouring the rest of the series!
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.