The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Jean Auel

August 28, 2012 at 1:43 am (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

The Shelters of Stone (Earth’s Children, Book Five) – by Jean M. Auel

I debated writing this review. I loved the first three books in the Earth’s Children series, and I was quite fond of the fourth book, but I honestly had mixed feelings about this book, the fifth in the series. Jean Auel’s characters are lovable and interesting, as always, and I can appreciate the amount of research that went into the story, as well as her vivid descriptions, but there were also entire sections of the book that I struggled to get through (the first couple of chapters filled with introductions paragraphs long per person were a mind-numbing bust) and the book left me with a feeling that this was a bit of a bland intro to whatever story comes next in book six.

I’ve seen people say in reviews that certain books lack conflict, and I don’t think that’s true of most stories, nor in this one, but the conflict in this book is very mild in nature. The main conflicts include the Zelandonii women hazing Ayla when she first arrives, the debate as to whether the Clan are animals, and therefore hybrids like Echozar are abominations, or they are just a different type of people, and Ayla being pressured to become a Zelandoni (a wise-woman/shamaness of the Zelandonii.)

I still enjoyed a good portion of the book, Auel’s distinct flavour was there (like during the hunt where a tribesman is injured, or Ayla showing a crippled boy how to use a spear-thrower), but I also found enough of it was an “everyday life where Clan of The Cave Bear meets Melrose Place” kind of thing that definitely put me off in places (like Ayla trying to gain social acceptance at a party, dealing with the tribe drunk and his dysfunctional family, or getting the gossip on a girl who is marrying after getting pregnant before her First Rites …ooh, scandal.) The matrimonial ritual and the birth of Jonayla were moving moments, but the preparation for the ritual seemed to drag on longer than I would have liked. The story mostly just chugged along with the occasional scene that delighted like the first three books, filled in with rather mundane events, some sex scenes and flashbacks to things that happened in earlier books. I find this does happen with some of the longer books written by well-established writers, fleshing out a weaker plot with “fillers” resulting in books that wouldn’t have been considered passable from authors of lesser celebrity. I don’t think it’s just a matter of the length of the book itself. I have read very long books, like Richard Adams’s Maia, that held my attention thoroughly from cover to cover despite its length.

The book was good enough I felt it was worth finishing, but not so good as to leave me completely satisfied. I do plan to eventually read the sixth book in the series, and I hope it is exciting as the first three; the lead in implied it could be.

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