Saturday 2 April 2011

Review: The Plains of Passage - 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 fourth 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.

Ayla the orphan and Jondalar the traveller leave the safety of the land of mammoth hunters by the Black sea and embark on a seemingly impossible journey across the whole of a continent.  Their goal is the Cro-Magnon settlement in what is now southern France from which Jondalar set out years before as a young man.

Accompanied by the half-tame Wolf, the superb stallion Racer and the mare Whinney, they brave both savage enemies and the elemental dangers of weather and terrain in their search for the place that will become Home.

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 Plains of Passage we follow Ayla and Jondalar on their epic journey to the home Jondalar left 5 years ago.  He wants to return to his people and share the discoveries he has made and Ayla just wants to find a home where she can settle down and start a family.  The journey isn't going to be an easy one and they will face various dangers on the way but can they make it across the glacier before spring causes the ice to start melting?

I have to admit that this is my least favorite book in the series, my copy has 975 pages which makes it an incredibly long read and now that I'm on my 5th read through of the series I confess I did skim read through quite a few of the descriptive passages.  Jean Auel is able to write fantastic detailed descriptions of the landscape and its plant and animal life but although there are some new things to be learnt in this installment quite a lot of page time is devoted to things we already found out in earlier books.  The main part I was really interested in (the part of the journey where they are crossing the glacier) was actually over quite quickly but I did find it really interesting reading.  Jean Auel obviously put a lot of thought into how they would get both themselves, and the animals they are travelling with, across safely.

Although the descriptions can be a bit much at times (I now know far more than I ever wanted or needed to about the mating patterns of mammoths for example!) and the numerous love scenes between Ayla and Jondalar have become tiresome what I really enjoyed was their interactions with the groups of people they meet along the way.  They make stops at several of the camps that Jondalar and Thonolan visited on their earlier journey and it was nice to see what has been happening with them since we saw them last, the Sharamudoi in particular.  We also get to meet several new groups of people and I was pleased that in this installment Ayla isn't the only person who invents every new discovery.  She is still a little too perfect, managing to solve problems everywhere she goes, but I can't help really liking her!

I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been trimmed down a bit but I would still recommend this for fans 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.


  1. There were parts in this one that lagged a little with descriptions. It would be moving at a nice pace and then go on and on. I did enjoy the fact that Ayla finally gets to meet new people and spread her knowledge around :)

    JaidisShaw at yahoo dot com

  2. Yeah. I remember my last re-read skipping through quite a bit of this one as well. The mammoth sex scenes were a little much for me, as were the sex scenes between Ayla and Jondalar. This one feels a little like the middle book in the series that just gets the characters from one point to another without really adding much to the story. Still, the strength of Ayla's character keeps me reading!

  3. @ Paige - Great to find another fan of the series :o)

    @ Jaidis - the descriptions were a bit heavy going in places, I enjoyed them more in my first read through but now I've read it so many times I don't mind skipping those parts. It was good to see Ayla mixing with others though :o)

    @ Clover - lol yes the sex scenes did get to be a bit much in this one (and in some of the others if I'm being honest) and I actually quite like books with sex scenes LOL. This definitely was a middle of the series book but I enjoyed seeing them finally reach their destination & it was interesting to see some of the people we met before via Jondalar & Thonolan :o)

  4. 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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