October 08, 2011
The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel
This novel starts right at the end of the last when Jondalar and Ayla are exploring the area with her horses and come across a group of hunting Mamutoi. The leader, a big burly man named Talut, invites them back to his camp and there they meet friends and share their inventions they have come across and Ayla's horses. Here to, to their surprise is a child of mixed-spirits named Rydag whom Ayla is immediately drawn to in reminder of her son. She teaches the camp how to talk to him through the Clan's sign language. All is not happy however as Jondalar becomes increasingly jealous of the attentions the handsome Ranec gives to Ayla. The whole camp likes her enough though that she is invited to become adopted into their camp and also asked for her hand in marriage (well not quite, but the primitive equivalent). She has tough decisions to make and Jondalar does as well based on those decisions.
The characters are pretty well done in these books. Ayla and Jondalar are just a bit too perfect, but despite that still mostly likeable. Well almost, Jondalar actually drives me a bit nuts with his overdone jealousy in this book and is really quite idiotic. Ayla I can forgive a little bit since she was raised in different settings, but his reactions are not normal for his people. The rest of the people too I was a little impatient with for letting the animosity grow and stating they should stay out of it for unconvincing reasons. My favorite character was Rydag and the depth that he gave to the story while still being quite charming.
The writing is very descriptive but I do find fault with a part of it. Auel makes Jondalar and Ayla discover every new and innovative invention and it gets tiring and unbelievable. I'm sure she just wanted to express how these developments came about but would have been better served to have them meet some people who discovered some of these things instead of laying it all at their feet. For some readers, there are parts of this book that could be uncomfortable. There are very explicit and detailed sex scenes in this book and Auel leaves nothing to the imagination. It might not be for everyone because of this.
Despite some of these problems though, its still a great book and I love reading and re-reading this series as it never grows old for me.
1st book: Clan of the Cave Bear
2nd book: The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters