Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review: The Mammoth Hunters - 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 third 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.

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.

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.


  1. I started to re read the series and got about 150 pages into this book and I just had to put it down. Like you it isn't my favorite book and I wasn't really in the mood for this type of book. So this is perfect I think I will just read your reviews and get the basic refresher so when I start Land of Painted Caves I will remember more. I will have to one day finishing reading the full series. I loved these books and last read them around 10 years ago in high school. I really like them and can't wait till I start Land.

  2. Haven't read these, but I'm going to guess Ayla picks Jondalar?:D Perhaps some of the secondary characters could have made some of the discoveries too.

  3. I think that comparing the lifestyles of the different peoples was the high point of this book for me.

    Another entry in the International giveaway for me.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  4. This seems different, I will give a go. Thanks

  5. I had a lot of people tell me that they didn't enjoy this book as much but I loved it. It has been awhile since I read it but plan to reread them all later this summer.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  6. I completely agree about the love triangle! There were times I just couldn't stand reading the back and forth emotions..even though I understand where they came from. I have a dislike for Ranec because I feel as though he should have known better then to try and step between Ayla and Jondalar..hehe

    JaidisShaw at yahoo dot com

  7. I'm so with you on the love triangle being slightly annoying. And this one isn't my favourite book either, but the interactions with Ayla and the Mamutoi are the bits I enjoy the most. (And Ayla's new addition to her familY!!)

  8. @ Kristina - I think you have to be in the right mood to read this series, it can be a bit heavy going with all the descriptions but I love that about it :o) I hope the refreshers have been helpful in reminding you about the books so you're ready to read Land of Painted Caves. I'd love to know what you think of it!

    @ Kulsuma - I'm not going to spoil it & tell you if you're right or not LOL. I think it would have been better if others had made some discoveries too but this does get better as the series goes on :o)

    @ buddyt - I loved seeing how the different groups of Cro-Magnon's lived, there were a lot of similarities but the differences were really interesting. I really enjoyed the comparisson between them & the Neanderthals too :o)

    @ Liz - I'm glad you like the sound of this series & I hope you enjoy it :o)

    @ Lisa R/alterlisa - I loved this one for the Mammutoi especially :o) I did get frustrated with the lovee triangle but I loved the other characters enough to ignore that. I hope you enjoy your re-read!

    @ Jaidis - I felt the same about the triangle, as much as you could see where they were both coming from it dragged on for far too long. I'd not really thought about the fact that Ranec should have known better than coming between them but you're right. I don't feel as sorry for him now LOL.

    @ Clover - I loved the Mamutoi!! Such a fun group of characters that I almost wanted Ayla to stay with them :o) Of course you can't forget Ayla's new friend - he made the book for me!

  9. Thanks for all your comments, I hope you enjoyed taking part in Earth's Children Week :o)


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



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