Monday 4 April 2011

Review: The Shelters of Stone - 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.

Ayla and Jondalar have reached his home at last: the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, the old stone age settlement in the region known today as south-west France.  Ayla has much to learn from the Zelandonii as well as much to teach them.  Jondalar's family greet him warmly, but they are initially wary of the beautiful young woman he has brought back, with her strange accent and her tame wolf and horses.

She is delighted when she meets Zelandoni, the spiritual leader of her people, a fellow healer with whom she can share her medicinal skills.  After the rigours and dangers that have characterised her extraordinary life.  Ayla yearns for peace and tranquillity: to be Jondalar's mate and to have children.  But her unique spiritual gifts cannot be ignored, and even as she gives birth to their eagerly-awaited child, she is coming to accept that she has a greater role to play in the destiny of the Zelandonii.

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.

At the end of The Plains of Passage Ayla and Jondalar finally make it back to Jondalar's home - the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii - but the story ended before she got to properly meet Jondalar's family.  In The Shelters of Stone Jondalar's family are pleased to have him home but are wary of the strange foreign woman and the animals she has brought with her.  Ayla has been longing to find somewhere to settle down with Jondalar and desperately wants to fit in but can she get the Zelandonii to accept her? 

Although The Shelters of Stone doesn't quite manage to live up to the first 3 books in the series I found it was an improvement on The Plains of Passage.  While it still has some of the same problems as book 4 (the constant repetition from the earlier books being the main one) I found the story more enjoyable because there was more interaction with other people.  My main problem with The Plains of Passage was the parts where Ayla and Jondalar were travelling alone and although the description of the landscape was interesting it did overwhelm the story line, it would have been a much better book if it had been trimmed down a little.  In The Shelters of Stone I enjoyed the description of the Zelandonii way of life and their religious beliefs but did find myself getting tired of the long winded introductions to the many, many characters we are introduced to.

I really enjoyed getting to meet Jondalar's family, we have heard so much about them from Jondalar that I've been looking forward to finding out more about them for a long time.  I did find the number of other characters we are introduced to was overwhelming though, it was hard to keep track of who was who (even though I was reading this book for the 5th time!).  When they spent time with the Mamutoi we got to know quite a lot about each member of the Lion Camp but in this installment we learn little more than the names of most of the people we meet.  It would have been nice if more than a handful of characters had been fleshed out properly this time too.

The plot in The Shelters of Stone is a lot slower than it has been in previous books so don't expect a lot of action in this installment.  The focus is much more on Ayla learning the customs and traditions of the Zelandonii and trying to fit in and make friends which is understandable as they have finally reached their destination.  I would say that it is well worth reading this installment if you are a fan of the series, if only to witness Ayla and Jondalar's mating ceremony and the birth of their first child.  If you are new to the series then I would definitely recommend starting with the first book The Clan of the Cave Bear.

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. Thanks for the plot summary. I'm reading Land of Painted Caves now, but I hadn't realized just how much of Shelters of Stone that I'd forgotten. You've managed to tie up some "but did that happen in the book?" questions I was having. I still plan on re-reading the book, but it's not as urgent now.

  2. I enjoyed this one. For me it felt like we were getting somewhere, finally, showing us some of the conflicts that we might see as Ayla heads towards a possible calling with the Zelandoni. I did love the mating ceremony though and reading all of your reviews are getting me increasingly excited to read Land of Painted Caves! So thank you :)

  3. @ Elena - what did you think of Land of Painted Caves? I'd love to hear your opinion :o) I found there was a lot I'd forgotten about when I was doing my read through. Jean Auel manages to pack a lot in although I guess I shouldn't be surprised since they are such massive books lol

    @ Clover - the mating ceremony was really interesting & it was great seeing more of the way that the Zelandoni lived. I hope you enjoy Land of Painted Caves!

  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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