Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Review: The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

Don't forget that all comments on posts with the Earth's Children logo made before Midnight GMT on the 8th April 2011 will get you entered into my international giveaway to win a book of your choice from the Earth's Children Series!  See this post for more information.

The first novel in Jean M. Auel's magnificent epic of life on the glacial continent of the last Ice Age, when two kinds of human beings, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, shared the earth.

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!

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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.


Kulsuma said...

Great review! sounds fascinating. A reason why this is so interesting to me is that it isn't a historical era that has been explored much so there's a lot of room for exciting stories.

Have you read The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver? I recommend them!

Karla Vollkopf said...

Please enter me to the international giveaway! :)

Elena said...

I really need to re-read this series, especially now Land of Painted Caves is out. Great review.

Stephanie (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

Fantastic review! I just finished this one and I didn't realise how much I'd enjoyed it before I'd finished and it dawned on me how much I'd grown to love the characters. I really want to read the next in the series now :)

buddyt said...

Been so long since I have read this book but I remember that I found the way she developed the characters in the Clan absolutely fantastic.

Broud is still one villian that always comes to mind.

Extra entry for the International giveaway.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Amber Young said...

Posting for the giveaway. I've never read this series, but it certainly seems popular at the library. I'm intrigued.

captainsarahsparrow at hotmail dot com

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

When this series was first recommended to me, I didn't think it was the type that I normally read but I trusted a friend and I'm so glad I did.

I'm a follower on GFC-Lisa Richards

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

I had hoped to have time to reread the series but --- so I'll read the new one and then reread the series this summer when I have more time.

I'm a follower on GFC-Lisa Richards

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Jaidis said...

Great Review! I still remember the first time I read Clan of the Cave Bear and I still read it at least once a year :)

JaidisShaw at yahoo dot com

Clover said...

What a great review and themed week! I'm really sorry that I wasn't able to write a guest post for it, these past few weeks have been a little hard on me. But I have really loved reading your reviews and the event reports!

This is definitely my favourite book in the series.

Sarah said...

@ Kulsuma - I've not come across many Ice Age stories either so it was completely new to me when I first discovered this series :o) I've not read Michelle Paver's seris but I've heard very good things about it so it is definitely one I need to check out, thanks for the recommendation!

@ Elena - my main reason for re-reading the series was ready for The Land of Painted Caves to be released :o)

@ Stephanie - I'm so glad you enjoyed this one too & I hope you love the rest of the series just as much!

@ Buddyt - Hi Carol, Broud makes a very good villian doesn't he lol. I love the clan characters though, especially Iza, Creb, Uba & Durc :o)

@ Amber - I hope you enjoy this if you do decide to give it a try. It is an incredibly popular series :o)

@ Lisa R/alterlisa - It's always great to meet another fan of the series! I hope you enjoy your re-read :o)

@ Jaidis - I think Clan of the Cave Bear has to be my favorite book in the series but I end up re-reading them all fairly regularly :o)

@ Clover - I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog week :o) Don't worry at all about not being able to do a guest post, I completely understand what it's like when things get hectic & it was short notice by the time I realised you were a fan of the series too!

Sarah said...


I still love reading your comments though so feel free to leave me a message :o)


Related Posts with Thumbnails