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Book Review: The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel

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In the culmination of this prehistoric cult-like historical fiction series, Ayla fulfills her destiny and Jane Auel lovingly puts to rest the family she created in 1980 and has nurtured ever since. The Land of Painted Caves, published by Random House, releases March 29, 2011.

Author Jean Auel began her extensive research on prehistoric Europe and the interactions of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal people in 1977. Wanting to ensure that her background details were as accurate as possible, she consulted extensively with French archeologists and spent time at the excavation site, Grotte Seize, upon which she based the Ninth Cave of the Zeladonai. An expert on the Ice Age, she writes clearly about its environmental and anthropological ramifications. Her knowledge of botany and herbs is impressive.

In part I of III, Ayla, acolyte to the healers named Zelandonii, tours their sacred places (painted caves) with her husband, Jondalar and newborn daughter, Jonayla, as part of her training to become a spiritual leader of the Ninth Cave. Five years have passed when we reach Part II. Ayla spends time away from family to perform her healing duties. She sets off through on another tour of caves. In Part III, Ayla finishes her training as an acolyte. A conflict between Ayla and Jondalar and the appearance of a potential cave wrecker provide interesting plot twists. All are enlightened by a final verse from the “Mother’s Song” which explains how conception happens.

Ayla, the woman who can do anything (except sing on key), is still inventing in this book. She can create a morning-after drink to follow a night of carousing, roast savory meat in the ground and make a hands-free berry-picking basket.

Even devotees of the Earth’s Children Series may want to lower expectations as they read. You may not be deterred by the multitude of characters introduced by page 20, but you will soon discover that the driving force in this book is not plot or character growth, but description. The author, a master of prehistoric life, doses up a great supply of it. That may be rewarding enough for those with little knowledge of that time, but this reviewer yearned for more.

For 500 pages we slog through caves, endless interpersonal introductions, and narratives on prehistoric life. The graphic sex scenes from the earlier novels reappear. Rehearsed and re-rehearsed are the implications of the “Gift of Pleasures.” Plot and resolution emerge toward the end of the book, but the reader’s patience is tried in waiting for them. A deeper study of the relationship between Ayla and Jondalar would be a welcome addition. Jonayla’s character development could have been a fascinating nugget but is glossed over. To the author’s credit, she has created Ayla, probably the first woman to work outside the home. Her heretofore one-dimensional character finally becomes human and Ayla actually makes some mistakes at the end of the book.

Complaints abound from reviewers about tedious repetition and recaps from Auel’s earlier novels inserted in this new release. Agreed, the recaps are repeated, but perhaps the author fully intended to remind us of some of the events in her earlier novels. People watch favorite movies over and over for a feeling of nostalgia and comfort. Why not relive favorite books, especially if published as a series with years in between books? Furthermore, not all readers of The Land of Painted Caves have followed the series from the beginning. For the reader’s perusal:

Book descriptions at Random House
The Clan of the Cave Bear, 1980
The Valley of Horses, 1982
The Mammoth Hunters, 1985
The Plains of Passage, 1990
The Shelters of Stone, 2002
The Land of Painted Caves, 2011

However, let us distinguish between intentional, helpful recaps, and repetition which begs for an editor’s red pencil. Had the dialogue been cut in half, the plot may have picked up a bit. This reviewer grew weary of the redundancy of characters introducing themselves to each other over and over. Excerpts of the “Mother’s Song” thrown in to comment on a cave painting seemed superfluous and annoying. Even more boring were the constant tea-making scenes.

Yet, we come away from the book with a vivid picture of everyday prehistoric life. Barma is an alcoholic drink fermented from birch sap. A water bag is made from a carefully washed deer stomach stopped up with a multi-knotted thong. Ms. Auel knows how to write everyday realism, but she doesn’t seem to know when to stop.

This series has a devoted following who may be willing to overlook the novel’s shortcomings for the pleasure of revisiting old friends. With due respect to a legendary author, regretfully, this final book in the Earth’s Children Series failed on several levels. It is, in this reviewer’s opinion, the least successful in the series. Needed: Fewer caves and more plot.

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About Holly Weiss

  • Eli Penn

    I have read all the preceding books. this one sounds like a disappointment. I look forward to more reviews before I purchase a copy.

  • Nancy Mitchell

    I would like to read this book because of the description and development of Ayla’s character.

  • Holly Weiss

    I found Ayla’s character most fascinating in the first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear, and the very end of The Land of the Painted Caves.

    Thank you for your comments.

  • Tatia

    I couldn’t agree more with the reviewer. I was beyond bored with the endless descriptions of caves, the long-winded introductions every time a new character (of which there were plenty) was greeted and the repetition of The Mother’s Song. I’ve loved Ayla since I was a teen and first read Caln of th Cave Bear. I wanted so much more for her at the end. Perhaps a final chapter that skipped to the future, to show us Ayla in 10 or 15 years time, could have made up for the lack of plot and the disappointing lck of character development.

  • Tony

    I have to agree. I have loved this series from the start but this final chapter in my heroine’s life is such a dismal failure. There is not an ounce of excitement anywhere in the 600 odd pages and I truely expected so much more.Boring beyond belief. Ms Auel really got this one wrong and shame on her closest friends, family, editors and the like for not telling her so before this book went to print. Right now I feel like Ranec – Totally devestated by the emptiness of a lost love

  • Holly Weiss

    I appreciate your comments on this. It was a difficult review to write because of my respect for the author’s earlier works.

  • Jessica

    I have to agree too! I was so bored reading it I skipped forward many chapters to find it was still all the same repetitive stuff we had read before. Nothing new was introduced and it could have been so much better.

  • GLEN

    J. Auel held me captive for three decades.
    I read and reread the “Earth’s Children” in anticaption of the this story. “Painted Caves” was a terrible let down. She took nine years and 700 pages to return us to the over worked and thus tedious relationship of Ayla and Jondalor in the third book. Obovious, Ms Auel enjoyed her tour of the real painted caves but so much reading of it became painful for me. The twist at the end gave me a “Oh no! Don’t go there Jean.” The three major characters all were out of character. Her attempt at tying up loose ends left me totally unsatisfied. Supposedly this is the end, but she has left enough room to continue another book. Her ceative juices seemed to have dried up, so PLEASE, no sequel to this sequel.

  • Helen Paton

    Like others, I reread the entire series in the run up to the release of ‘Land of the Painted Caves’. It’s as if a ghost writer undertook the task of finishing the series – too much description on the various mineral composition of caves, too many repetitions of ‘The Mother’s’ song, and as for Ayla and Jondolar’s ‘problem’, this was a rewrite of the same themed in ‘Mammoth Hunters’. There was no development of interaction with the Clan – after incidental meetings throughout the series, and Ayla’s determination to teach the Others how to communicate – I know the Clan ‘died out’, but not THAT quickly? Very disappointed – there’s so many loose ends!

  • Helen Paton

    Also, can I point out the incongruity of words like ‘cadge’, and other colloquialisms threw me off when I came across them. It looks as though a brilliant author really couldn’t be bothered with this final of the series. There is no ‘ending’ to the story of Ayla’s life, no conclusion where the faithful followers (we, the readers) can finalise our obsession for The Earth’s Children.

  • Holly Weiss

    At least we stirred up a good discussion. Thank you all for your comments and insights.

  • Jenifer White

    I am still only in the middle of the book, but so far I don’t mind it anywhere near as much as “Shelter’s of Stone”. Although this book is repetitive, “Shelter’s of Stone seemed like nothing more than a recap of the four previous books and this one has at least got a bit of new stuff in it. i.e. Ayla’s Zelandonii training.

  • Julie Mulvey

    I have recently finished this book and gave myself a few days to calm down before adding any comments. My copy of the book is going straight into a paper recycling bin – I’m not even going to try and sell it on because someone might actually be silly enough to buy it. This book has totally let Jean Auel’s fans down as it seems she can’t decide whether she is an anthropologist or a novelist. I question whether an anthropologist would find it of any benefit but as a reader of novels it is so far off the mark. Please don’t waste your time on this book and make up your own ending!

  • lynn

    what a disappointment boring from beginning to end

  • Jane

    I am struggling with this book in and attempting to complete it. I have tried skipping passages burden with descriptions and intoductions in hopes of capturing some character development or story line…but, alas, will probaby….”close the book” on it!

  • Maureen Dexter

    I’m around 70 pages into the book and it’s dull as dishwater. If I have to read about Ayla making tea one more time I’ll throw the book out the window. Nothing exciting had happened, the repetition is exhausting to read, and there seems to be no character development. There is a Greek Chorus of female characters introduced, but none of them appear to be anything but Ayla sycophants, simpering and insipid. Thus far, I’ve read formal introductions, picked up lots of information regarding prehistoric life, learned several new infusions for tea, that a really fat woman probably won’t be able to sit in a grass sling attached to drag poles behind Whinney and that you have to boil lion’s teeth and claws before you can wear or play with them, because otherwise, one might get a scratch that will fester.

    Right now, I’m slogging through. It’s awful. Maybe it’ll get better within the next 70 pages?

  • Liliana López

    I liked the cave explorations, there was only one sex scene and it ended OK.
    But i honestly don’t think the editor even read the book, I know Ayla had a rough childhood and because of that she was a certain way, Can we please move on?
    She could’ve talked a bit more abou Durc and Jonayla, there was WAY more room for character development.
    I dont blame the author because i’m thinking she spent a really long time writing this and might’ve forgotten that she already mentioned certain things, I blame the editor…

  • R Wools

    Horrible book, can’t believe the editor and publisher let it go to print. Is Auel demented? Ghost writer? In any case, this was not an Auel book, at least not the Auel I grew up with. Devastatingly disappointing. I’ve been an avid reader of the series since I was a teen and so have waited over 20 years for the conclusion. No plot, one dimensional characters, no climax and no real conclusion. No closure with the Clan, or Durc. No Clan contact at all, in fact. What happened to Madroman and Brukeval? Who in the world is Jonayla anyway? I would have expected two of my favorite literary characters to have a child with character, some kind of character. A boring and insipid book altogether. Biggest waste of money in this whole new year.

  • Nancy

    This was so disappointing. I’m one of those who have read and re-read the series several times. Nothing happened for about 400 pages, just viewing caves, and their descriptions were nothing like those in the previous book. Those drew you in. Hardly anything here draws you in. How could there be no Clan in it? So many things that should have been developed were simply gone, unmentioned. It’s just so WEIRD! I can’t believe that this series ends this way–less than a whimper.

  • leonie

    I have loved the series so much. I didn’t even mind to wait ten years for the last book. What a dissapointment. Boring, boring, boring. I feel cheated!!!

  • Cova Linares

    I’m starting the reading of the saga, just at the begging of the Mammoths Hunters.. but I’m getting a disappointing overview of the Land of the painted caves reading all the comments! Should I stop at the Shelders of Stone and forgetting reading the final? … if it is a no-ending, does it make sense? Or should I make-up my own history of Ayla? … I’m confused and thank you all for your help and useful information about the books.

  • Holly Weiss

    I think everyone has to decide for themselves. If you really enjoyed Shelters of Stone, then give The Land Of the Painted Caves a chance.

  • Lynda Richter

    I was glad to find when I read some of your comments that I’m not the only one to feel slightly disappointed in this book. I was feeling quite disloyal as I absolutely love this series! As it is, I’ve only read a few chapters but am finding hard to muster any interest to pick it up to continue it, which under normal circumstances I would probably have completed it in 2 days.

  • Jebea Lopez

    I do not know what else should I do, cry? throw the book? scream? WHAT? such a dissapoinment, I like the first 3 chapters, even I understand that Auel needs to talk about some parts of the other books, but to do it over and over and over and over again is boring, besides I get it, is The Land of the Painted Caves, but come on, there has to be more then just descriptions of the walls, some historys, some interactions besides of making thea.
    There has to be another book, that can’t be the end, is not only incomplete, is wrong, please, tell me, there is another book, PLEASE. :(

    Sorry for my english.

  • Mark Taylor

    The worst of the series, no doubt. If I hadn’t read the others i would have quit after 4 chapters!

  • Robin

    I’m just past page 400 and, as an avid bibliophile, I do NOT skip passages. However, this book BEGS for the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course! I keep seeing set-ups where SOMEthing should happen but it doesn’t. It’s just narrative on everyday life. I haven’t read many of the comments here because I don’t want to know how the book ends but I’m not sure I might end before it does! It could have been the BEST! Very disappointed so far….:(

  • Beth

    What a disappointment, the only twists or any form of plot line were entirely out of character. Meaningless drivel. As an avid fan of the series I feel cheated. Wish I had never read it. I thought Shelters of Stone was the last book; wish it was.

  • Nicole

    I have read all the other books, and have been reading them since I was 12. This is the main reason why I was salivating at the prospect of getting my hands on this book. I read in 4 days what should have taken me a couple of weeks as I was skimming so much. I agree that severe editing should have happened with this book.

  • Linda Rogers

    I have to agree with all that was said about this last book. Horrible! I slogged through it because I did buy it. Skipped through most of it.

  • Francesco GREGORETTI

    Really boring, Should have stopped at the previous book.

  • cokie

    I was so excited when I heard that the final book in the series had come out, that I ran to Costco and bought it (I NEVER buy books) Needless to say, i was so crushingly disappointed, that there really was so much more that she could have done with the book and yet so little that was done in terms of a story. If they were going to make a film about this book in would have to be a documentary about caves and s little about food prep. The first chapter was the best chapter and all the others were BORING. I chose to donate my less than one week old book to the local library in the hopes that I would save someone else from pruchasing it, even if I can’t save them from reading it.


    I have read all of the series several times, as many times as 5 on some of them.
    I barely got thru this one. So sad. All it was was a repetion of the other books. It was boring. The part that bothered me most was when Jondalar cheated on Ayla. I know it is realistic and this is what actually happens but just this once I would have liked to have stayed ignorant of it.
    I agree Jonayla could have really been developed.
    To me this was one of the most beautiful and long awaited series, with a sad ending.

  • Lisa S

    I too was so disappointed in Ms. Auel’s final book. I have been waiting 9 years to find out about Ayla’s life and was left feeling really let down. What happened to all the visions of her two sons meeting? I thought at least there would be some meeting with the clan or clan people. Even some info on what happened to Durc. The cave descriptions and the mothers song was repeated way too many times. I wouldn’t go as far as to say not to read this book but I think that it was a disappointment for the fans that have been reading this series for so long.

  • sjess76

    I completely agree with the reviewer. The pace was too slow, too many caes, too much repetition. It was a bit of a disappointment, but really good to finally read another novel about Ayla!

  • Deb Sapp

    I have the series in hardback and bought the much awaited last book. I was soooo disappointed. I know it was to be about painted caves, but page after boring page. The characters took a back seat in this book with a weak storyline. Alot of questions unanswered. I think she left herself open for another book. I’ll be less apt to buy so quick if she does write another.

  • Toni Benedict

    I am SOOOO dissapointed!~~~!!
    This book was the WORST I have read in a long time. It was plotless, repetative, beyond boring… it was a sheer misery to even get through it. As I went through the first 100 pages I was still hoping…then 200…then 300…then 400….I finally just forced myself to “get it down” like you do a bitter pill!
    The endless introductions, tea making, what felt like ten times reading tThe Mother’s song, endless drivel about trial nonsense…it was EXCRUCIATING!!
    I almost feel like Ms auel didn’t even write this book. Us loyal fans of 30 years deserved better than this!

  • pat, somerset

    extremely disappointed in the final book. Have looked forward to it’s release for 10 years and what a boring, boring 500 pages, then I thought something exciting was going to come, but unfortunately it didn’t. I can’t express what a BIG let down this book was.

  • pat, somerset

    extremely disappointed in the final book. Have looked forward to it’s release for 10 years and what a boring, boring 500 pages, then I thought something exciting was going to come, but unfortunately it didn’t. I can’t express what a BIG let down this book was. Have read all the books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed them – but not this one – it was really hard work to finish it. Jean M Auel left it far too long to write anything new, it was all repetative of previous books. Cannot put into words how disappointed I am.

  • Holly Weiss

    It appears I have captured the public’s opinion well in my review.

  • Judie

    I have just finished reading the Land of Painted Caves…I realize that I read it much later than when it was first published. I waited so long for this book, and I was truly disappointed. Like the majority of the comments that have already been posted, I found it redundant and boring. I also thought that there were too many formal introductions and too many names to try to remember. I cannot recommend it as interesting reading material. I was hoping that Ayla wound somehow be reunited with Durc, but it didn’t happen. Also, I think that Jonayla deserved better. Although I managed to read the entire book, I was sorely disappointed in the ending. I think that Ayla’s thoughts should have been the final written words. I own all of the other books, but I don’t think I will make the effort to purchase this one.

  • Syrena

    The whole story could have been told in a book 1/4 the size of this one.

  • Jenni

    I really have to add my own say to the seemingly vast majority of comments saying this novel was a huge disappointment.

    It’s 3am in my country, and I’ve just finished the book, having read the last 300-ish pages in one go, without even stopping to eat.

    When I read the first of the books it was around the time when the fifth book had just come out, and I was only eleven years old. In about a year I had read all five books, always having one of them nearby. When I closed the fifth book, it was devastating for me. I couldn’t bear the thought that I could no longer continue reading what had become my favourite story. I simply wandered around for a few days, not knowing what to think or do, it was all a blur. The one thought that pulled me out of it was knowing that there would be one final book. But I also knew that Auel had been writing part five for 12 years, which she had started before I was born. It felt crushingly bad that I might have to wait for another 12 years to find out what happens next.

    I didn’t purchase the copy of Painted Caves straight away, perhaps because I felt I wasn’t ready to feel the sense of finality after finally reading the whole story. But a couple of days ago I did, and unlike the other books, which I read in my native tongue, my copy of Painted Caves is in English. I wanted it to be more authentic, considering I’ve now grown up and my skill in English is adequate enough. Perhaps because of that the repetition of the other books didn’t bother me so much, because I hadn’t read those passages in the same language before anyway.

    Needless to say, the climax I’d been waiting for nearly half my life just wasn’t there.

    It wasn’t just that the first 400 pages were about caves and introductions. It was mostly what happened after them that made me see all the previous books in a different light than I had before. The moment I saw “Jondalar and Marona” written on the page shattered a part of my world, the part that had held onto the thought of Ayla and Jondalar’s everlasting love thousands of years ago as something I could always return to. Perhaps it’s slightly irrational and having to do with my personal loathing for infidelity but I don’t think I will ever forgive the author for doing this to me. Not only did she ruin the grande finale of the last sequel, but she also cast a shadow over all the previous books. From now on, when Jondalar tells Ayla how much he loves her in any of the books from two to five, I will never believe it anymore. His love could not possibly have been that strong and true if he’s willing to have a casual relationship with Marona just because he is a “man with strong needs” and sort of can’t help it, or something, or whatever. And Ayla, who I’ve always looked upon, not only acts in a ridiculous way choosing Laramar, but in the end forgives Jondalar unconditionally and even tells him it’s alright for him to be with others, because it’s just Pleasures, you know, or something, whatever, and a man’s got needs, right? My respect is gone, and it’s not coming back. Not to even mention how furious I was to find that Jondalar’s years of unfaithfulness, particularly with a woman who had tried to hurt his loved one, were not so bad because, again, “a man’s got needs”, but Ayla’s one time with someone else was regarded a similar, if not worse, offence because she only did it to hurt him. That’s something else I will never tolerate, because the fault was that of Jondalar’s. The drama ended similarly as it has before: “Well, we didn’t realise before how much we love each other, but NOW we do” Yeah, as if I hadn’t heard that before. Everything that happened had happened in the previous books, and if they hadn’t realised before how they feel for each other, they never will.

    Oh, and let’s not forget everything else the previous commenters said. I still think 400 pages of caves are a terrible waste.

    I will never read this book again.

    And after this I’m starting to feel I will read none of the books ever again.

  • Glenda

    I’ve waited 20 years for the culmination of this series and what a disappointment. Mrs. Auel seems more interested making this her longest book than finishing themes hinted in earlier books. What happened to Durc? She hinted at a meeting between the Zelandonii and the Clan? Ayla and Jondalar’s son? Was this all my imagination? Sadly Mrs. Auel is tired of writing, only wanted to finish her series and was only interested in the END not a CONCLUSION. Dissapointment is a mild description of my feeling about it.

  • ruth wright

    …please tell me this is just the first part of the “last book” and maybe then we will get the part where she meets someone from the clan who knows about her, or ayla in the future (like 15 – 20 years from now) this book ,sorry to say is just not jean m. auel in my opion

  • Tone P Kortnes

    I’m sorry to say that this book disappointed me. I had to force myself to finish. I really wanted to hear about her son, or maybe she found some long lost relatives or something…. And the translation to Norwegian was really BAD. It did not feel like a finish to the story I love. Sorry Auel, love the other books you have written, just feels sad about this one :(

  • Tone P Kortnes

    But I still Love all the other books, and I got audiobooks of the three first as well. I love The Earths Children :)

  • David Long

    Extrealy dissapointing! I have also grown up reading these books, and it was a whole 750 pages of tea making cave exploration and i shitty cliche lovestory. Honestly I expected hunting trips, the only exciting bit was the first lion encounter. And no clan encounter!!! this was the most dull book i have read in years.

  • Estelle Oelofsen

    I have not read the book yet myself, but this review is published on It doesn’t sound very promising though. As soon as I finish reading myself, I will give my comments.

    Customer reviews
    by Yolande S (5 out of 5 people found this review helpful)
    This book is a must-read for fans of the series, just so that one can know what happens to Ayla and Jondalar. However it is a bit of an anti-climax. In contrast to the other books (and especially the first four books) of the series, this one feels rather superficial. With the exception of the Donier tour that covers a whole summer, it only dips into Ayla’s life for a few days or weeks at a time over several years, and with little reference to how much time has passed, one feels puzzled as to where we are in Ayla’s life at several points in the book.

    Also there are none of the minutiae of day-to-day stone age living that I enjoyed in the earlier books. Hunting is suddenly quick and easy. Gathering plant foods seems to take a only a few minutes. And there are mistakes. At one point Ayla explains how she found Wolf, and the details are glaringly wrong when one knows the earlier books as well as long-time fans most certainly will. There is also twice references to where Ayla is now storing her Clan Amulet and its content. Only a few pages apart and set during the same summer meeting, but the places she supposedly store it changes from the Ninth Cave to her current Zelandonii-style medicine bag from where she can take the objects and look at it. The details of Ayla’s training as a Donier is sparse. Her “Donier call” is also unimaginative, and the price paid for the knowledge gained too high.

    In my opinion, the events covered by this one book should have been spread over at least two, possibly three books, to put it on the same level of epic storytelling as the other books in the series. Still a must-buy for long-time fans however

  • Ann F.

    I absolutely loved the first book and it will always be my favorite book of all time. The next four all had slow moments but were exciting enough to keep me super motivated to read the next one. Land of painted caves was such a disappointment. Too repetitive, too many cave descriptions, too many characters introduced who weren’t developed enough for me to form an attachment to, too big of a part for Wolf, I could go on and on. I’m sticking with the ending I have been envisioning since reading shelters of stone in 2002.

  • Dianne

    Earth’s Children has had a special place in my heart for many years…when first finding Clan of The Cave Bear in a 2nd hand book shop i stayed up all night and was searching for the next books the next day. I was totally hooked. I identified with Ayla on so many levels. The Valley Of Horses took my breath away. The Mammoth Hunters amazed me with complex characters and brilliant descriptions. Every book kept me wanting more. The characters, the descriptions, the way Ayla has lived and survived…i was there with her, surviving, hunting, lonley, happy, all of it, Jean took me there with brilliant writing. I cried, laughed, was shocked, proud, every step of the way was a magical journey. I waited for Land of Painted Caves with baited breath. When i had my copy i turned off the phone, closed the curtains and doors and settled back thinking i was going off on another wonderous adventure…oh my. I read on and on, becoming more and more worried. Where had Ayla gone? Where was the stirring in my soul? I read the whole book and turned over the last page thinking…”is that it?” Really, is that it? I expected so much more, but it was repetative, boring, empty, uneventful, a huge let down. After the 50th description of a painted hand print or dot i felt cheated. Had i really waited ten years for this? Where was the anticipated meeting with The Clan? Why was there a silly repeat of the love triangle? Tell me i’m wrong but what happened here? It was so bad. Was anyone else expecting a gem of a book, that tied off all the loose ends and left you with a feeling of proper completion? I love Jean M Auel, her talent is out of this world, but what went wrong here? Im left hanging and longing for a proper and fitting end to this amazing story. Every one i know who has read it feels the same. I just cant believe it. Ayla deserved better.

  • Angie

    So sad. Just finished and agree with everything above but feel compelled to add how disappointed that Ayla’s earlier “vision” of her sons face to face did not come to fruition. The potential ending was robust with unfulfilled possibilities. The big ending is knowledge of conception we’ve known since book 1? So sad.

  • rabidreader

    what a giant disappointment! endless boring descriptions of caves? I could have bought a travel guide to Nevada that would have been more entertaining.At the very least, being so close to clan territory, Ayla could have accidentally run in to her son ,Durc.this was such a sad let down. I agree with other posters, if this had been the first book of the series, I wouldn’t have bothered with anymore. Did Jean really write this? I’m starting to wonder.

  • Curious George

    I feel so bad for Jean Auel. I too was so disappointed and bored that I skipped over most of it. What a sad thing for an author to spend so much time on a book that is so disappointing to her fans….9 years. I’m so sorry.

  • melita

    Agree with Mark, because I´d read the previous books I plodded through, but sadly I found it extremly boring , it has taken me ages to read picking it up and putting it down. I was really really disappointed.

  • Sandra Blume

    I find myself disappointed with this book. Doesn’t live up to the others. I wonder if Ms Auel did an outline and someone else actually wrote the book.

  • Julia Richards

    Whilst on holiday in Spain, staying at a relative’s flat, I found ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ I couldn’t put it down and on my return home eagerly bought the other subsquent books. From March ’11 to now, Jan ’12 I have finished ‘The Shelters of Stone’ so I have the advantage of not having to wait so long for each book to be published and I was looking forward to the final book in this series, hopefully for Ayla to find Durc. However, after reading these unsatisfactory reviews I won’t bother and will fantasise my own ending for Ayla. Thanks to all for your comments.

  • Ariadne

    I just cannot comprehend why or how this got published. How is this possible?? I literally skipped over 500 pages full of repetitive, inconsequential filler just so that Ayla could finally do what exactly? Oh yes, have a profound revelation that would change the world. Sorry. I got lost somewhere in a painted cave looking a countless animals drawings waiting for the characters to develop.

    I totally agree with Jeni’s comments about Jondalar and Marona. From that point on, I was done with the story and really couldn’t care less what happened from then on out. I wish I’d never read the darn thing. What a waste.

  • Duh!

    This narrative is self indulgent drivel which I feel is insulting to the many fans of this series. Ms Auel has treated her fans with contempt with the release of this effort. The book drones on, has no plot line, story or character development…..the information gleaned from this book could have been obtained from any travel brochure or museum visit of the area.

  • Lalena

    I waited for the Dutch translation and then I bought the book, but I shouldn’t have. I read it last summer but was left with such a feeling of dissapointment that I decided to google to see if the were others that shared my point of view. Everything Holly Weiss said in het review is so true. And there was more: in the other books Ayla does things no one thinks can be done and so receives a lot of status. So when on one of their many travels they encountered a girl who was born with double teeth I somewhat expected Ayla to save the day, but now besides some pain medication…nothing… And then at the very and the big thing between Ayla and Jondalar still came late compared to the Mammoth Hunters. I just could not see what the real topic was and was left with a feeling that I should have sent the book to Jean Auel for a re-write. Too bad she doesn’t speak Dutch.

  • Lalena

    Oh yeah, almost forgot. Why no clan encounters this time and as some else commented here: why nothing about durc or another child being born. I could go on and on. I say: Jean either re-write this thing or give us a number 7, but one that really ends leaving us fulfilled.

  • Pinny

    I agree with most of the comments.
    I bought this quite expensive book (books are ekspensive in DK hence it is a very small country with a strange language) last summer, since I had to spent some time waiting at the vet.
    And how I regret it! It is really not worth waiting all these years.

    I have never thought of Ms Auel as a great writer but a last here was a writer,who not thought that Neanderthals were ugly grunting clubcarrying beasts.
    But how can they hunt and talk while their spears shall be rammed into the prey by hand? In close combat?
    They must have three arms?
    And then again: She excerts them a real language, and includes some tremendous unbeliveable racial memory. Adverse: Her Homo sapiens sapiens are too modern- trousers? Loveconflicts? She has surely not heard of “the mother-in-law taboo” read more about it on wikipedia. Essentially it means that people with an ongoing conflict are forbidden to talk or act socially to one another in a length of time.
    She is definately quite inspired of, what one knows about modern “primitive”/savages/tribalsystems. Especially Native Americans and Inuits.
    But they have not lived for a very long time i the Americas.
    Maybe Aboriginals would have been a better lean on?

    I all her books she thanks her editor, I have allways wondered why?
    She tells, the same and the same- over and over again (and the cavemansex are interessting the first 5 times- then it gots really boring like seeing a porn. It is to vomit about. (Sorry, it’s a Danish saying of my generation, when something is ennerving)

    I CAN renember, what you wrote 20 pages earlier Ms Auel, but you make me feel like an amnesia patient. A serious one this time.

    There’s a major flaw (plothole) in the book: Aylas vision of conception will ruin the entire social system based on tribal matrilenal heritage. Renember: Mothers brother are those who are importent on heritage- not hearth mates.
    (If you also have forgotten this see: Mammoth Hunters & Shelters of Stone).

    And when Zeladoni First says, that abortions shows evolutionary stages, my toes cramp. This knowledge came very late in the 1800. century (after microscopes and so on).
    I do not think people at that time examined abortions, it is inconsistent what is weitten about births.

    — And why is the funeral in Shelters of Stone committed with so many fears and Taboos, when Thonolan dies Jondalar aren’t frigthened to go to his burial place, even if it is considered “Serious Bad Luck” when someone dies on a hunt?!

    The book is inconstent, abrupt, anachronistic and leaves more question than asked for.

    After reading it I really considered to sent Ms Auel a nice giftwrapped book- Steven Kings “On writing”- with the chapter about editoring highligted by a yellow marker.

    But I thought it to be somewhat cruel.

    This book is nearly as bad as “The Da Vinci Code” except the last a least was thrilling but with the exact same flaws in the persons- they are not real people but something out of one dimensional cardboard.

    I grew tired in the same procedures about making stuff. When people eat together I’ll give a sugar about what their plates are made of and how. I want to READ what they talk about!

    Ms Auel is not a person who are able to draw a quick and impressing picture in a few words in writing. She describes in minutiae but it gets very very boring. One time is okay but the 117. times it is painstaking. (A pain in the “dairy air”- sorry- P’Terry are a favorite of mine. One can swear without really using bad language it’s all in the readers mind ;-D )

    A tired work of a tired women who had done better by not releasing this book.

    It seems as it is based on plot notes, written years ago.

    If I want a guided tour in cavepaintings, i’m sorry to tell, there are quite a few book with photographs for sale…
    It could have been interessting if s Auel had given her own explanation consistent with time and place. Par exemple on the “White Grotto” (in Shelters of Stone). We all know the hunting magic, and I have actually red a brief notice on the subject of the caves as sound reflectors. But Ayla acts as a dressaged monkey, when people ask for her animals sound. It is not explained, how she as a real donier, can make her ways around in the caves.

    And it is completely forgotten to mention, that a real donier shal go somewhere lonely a have visions. Its a plothole so big, tha you can chase a Mammoth through…

    As an author who has planned her books too- I prefer Ms Rowlins, she has ruled it all out from the very beginning.

    Yours sincerely
    Pinny- book-addict

    PS: Sorry about the pselling and the strange language.

  • Cheryl

    I couldn’t have been more disappointed two of my friends asked for my opinion all I could say was boring. I expected more from her .There was no plot and to top it all off her husband had an affair with her worst enemy after making a promise to the great mother to always be there for her it as if at the end of the book she was grasping for something to write .I will not be looking in anticapitation for the next ten years for another book .
    I remember thinking people have died waiting for each book and for 30 years hoped Iwould live long enough for the last book.What a let down .

  • Dean Charris

    Cheated. Yes, that is the word that describes this book. I waited for 20 years for what ? For this ? For this ? Being one of the biggest fun of the series I have received one of my biggest disappointments. Such a terrible ending for a fine line of books.
    What was this all about with the endless descriptions of the caves ? Yes, Mrs Auel has visited them and was astonished by their beauty. Couldn’t she keep it to herself ? Why this endless torture ? Even if she was determined to make us part of her experiences she could have done that in much fewer pages. And give the plot some space to breathe if there was any left between the endless introductions, the tea making and the Mother’s song. Obviously Mrs Auel is very proud of it (maybe too proud) but she shouldn’t have tested our patience like that. In my humble opinion her audience was tricked into buying the last book having in mind the laurels of the past. Neither me, nor anyone else is entitled to say to Mrs Auel what to write. But I am sure that this was not the end that everyone was expecting.

  • Neilnphyl

    All the comments hit the mark …repetitious stuff and cardboard -cutout people. And finally an ending that gives no closure. Fill out the clan connection, have the characters age and make some huge blunders … accidentally kill Whinney or???????????

  • jules mckechan

    Please, if you read these reviews Jean Auel, then finish what you started and give us a final excerpt of this beautiful story.. there is certainly room to do that as even though painted caves was repetetive and boring, I was still left with a feeling of wanting to know what happened to Ayla etc….we need a happy ending.

  • whinny

    Was incredibly diasapointed with.the last book and feel heartbroken that it is the end and ended so vapid their was so much scope to do something different and fulfilling with the characters and I hated the ( problems) don’t want to spoil it for those that havnt read it all yet with jondalar it just didn’t ring true having read ( no devoured) all the other books in the series that he would do that….. I actually threw the book across the room at that point and cryed ( I was 8 months pregnant so I’m allowed lol) please please write another and Tue up all the loose threads in a satisfying and final way instead of leaving a bitter taste in all fans mouths after a previously amazing series x

  • zenia

    I am in total agreement. This book doesn’t even sound like it was written by Jean. It sounds to me like a ghost writer trying to sound like her. The worst part in my opinion was the rehashing of previous novels so much. Perhaps they help people that haven’t read the other novels… but honestly, if someone hasn’t read the other ones, they shouldn’t be reading the last one first.

  • Paul TREHIN

    Two of my comments in support of Jean Auel’s latest book have been rejected. I don’t un derstand why…
    I think this book is fascinating, perhaps is it because of my own passion for paleolithic art, but I fin Jean Auel’s hypothesis about paleolithic art excellent, although I have a different point of view on the subject.

    I wish I knew why my previous comments were rejected: no offensive language, no personnal attacks , no business oriented advertissment.
    Please let me know why my two previous comments were rejected.

  • S. Thomas

    Totally disappointed. I wanted Ayla to find out where she came from and meet her son again. I was very angry that the author got Jondalar involved with Marona and that Ayla lowered herself to have sex with that despicable character. We are just left hanging with questions on how Ayla’s life would end. She put lots of fillers in with repeat info, introductions, the Mother’s song, etc. which could have been taken up with discovering Ayla’s past and the status of her son. In all those travels she couldn’t discover her home and find her son again? It was bad enough in previous books to have so much sex (got really boring) and then to have her throw in the sleezy sex at the end was irritating. I wanted her to dump Jondalar and take the child and leave for another cave. Then she goes and lowers herself to act in such a surprising way. It just wasn’t Ayla. Yep, the author blew it. She could still give us an interesting ending, but I doubt she will–sounds like she is done.

  • Greg Shenaut

    I just read all six books (I had read four of them years ago). I completely disagree with the review. To me, the most important part of this series has to do with the great web of humanity. It connects us modern folk to our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago. As I read through the books, I followed the action on maps and read as much as I could about the actual remains that the places and even some of the people were based on. In the last book, when Ayla made her two visits to the Chauvet cavern, it was absolutely thrilling to me: I had pictures up on my computer screen so I could see the images Ayla and her companions saw. I even screened a documentary video so I could see them better. The repetition wasn’t annoying to me: it was useful to me as a way to get closer to the characters and the places. The idea of a cave tour was a wonderful way to make the connection between the ancients and our modern world. As for the discovery of fatherhood, and the repetition of the chant and its added verse, I thought that was a good way to resolve the story. The sex scenes didn’t bother me, and in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything where explicit sex was more central to the story line that it was here. I’m glad I read all of them at once, because it is clear that they were conceived as a whole. Well, ’nuff said. I liked the final volume at least as much as the others; every one of them is necessary to the story.

  • Mer

    Read through a few comments, mostly negative about the last book. I just finished it tonight and I actually loved it. There are many ideas and loose ends I would have liked to explore that others mentioned like…meeting with Durc, involvement of Clan and Others, exposition of Doniers as potential frauds, (especially the First), further development of Jondalar’s and Jonayla’s character and relationship with Ayla, and more profound or lucid drug-induced revelations…there’s so many openings for another couple books! I see limitations in Auel’s writing style but I think she was using a certain somewhat tedious way of telling her story on purpose and I applaud her efforts overall on this series and was riveted to each book. I wish there would be a couple more to play out a lot of potential ideas and messages.

  • David Crawford

    I have read and reread the first four books numerous times the past 30 years and have recently gotten around to purchasing and reading the last two books. I’m sorry to say that each book has been slightly more disappointing than the previous throughout the series, which shows just how much I appreciate the first two books and how high my hopes were that Jane Auel would let Ayla grow wiser while sharing and developing all her skills.

    I don’t know about all the other readers, but given her past I expected her to, at an early stage stand up for her son and resolve that issue and I was looking
    forward to reading how she would do it. I expected her to have visions more
    frequently, visions that she would relate to others and learn from. I expected
    her to orchestrate interactions between the Clan and the Others, what would
    happen when they met. Would her son show up or would she start writing about his life in the Clan? I expected her to relate to other healers more and to show
    them up more obviously. I also expected all of these happenings to actually have a purpose so they eventually would be tied into some sort of plot.

    Jondalar and Ayla never seem to grow up. Ayla, early on an incredibly skilled and independent person has been going through years of training to become a counselor in times of trouble, whatever they may be. They live in an environment where nobody bats an eye if two people or more couple, in a relationship where they have openly stated to each other time and time again that any time one of them is willing, so is the other, where each sexual experience ends with multiple simultaneous orgasms, where they both are amazingly attractive. Still the climax is based on him being sexually frustrated and then Ayla becomes vindictive and commits an act that is totally out of character. Despite her fantastic ability to read body language and her further training neither she nor her mentor can read Jondalar or resolve their problems at an early stage.

    In the first books Ayla always takes an immediate stand for the Clan. Despite all her training and further religious experiences Ayla regresses and refrains from
    mentioning her son out of fear of conflict. She goes from being a selfless, caring and outspoken individual to just wanting to fit in. That wasn’t the story I had hoped for. As it was, nothing Ayla learns or experiences during her
    Donier tour ties into anything that took place in the previous books or
    anything further on. New characters randomly show up and are quickly lost. In
    the book even Ayla gets bored of wandering into different caves and looking at paintings, her experiences are related more as if she were visiting an art gallery. She almost has several visions but doesn’t, nor does she tell anyone about them or learn anything from them. I was expecting each cave to give her a piece to a puzzle that only she could solve, but it never happened.

    While living with the Clan the characters were believable, here many of them are more like extremely naïve caricatures. Nobody would threaten to strangle somebody to keep off a 6’6” incredibly muscular man. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll stop strangling her and protect myself”. Their experienced healer and leader behaves more or less like a druggie when she finds out about a new rather dangerous drug, that strangely enough Ayla hasn’t mentioned during her many previous years of intimate apprenticeship. Neither of these rather dramatic episodes tie into the conflict between the Clan and the others or the new plot of revealing how babies are made. Nor did anything they learned on all their new travels give them any new great ideas about how to hunt or live.

    I can understand that some people might find the last book interesting if they read it as their first encounter with Jane Auel, but my advice to anyone who has
    read and appreciated the first two books would be, don’t read this one.

    • Keith

      This comment is essentially what I would have written.
      Of more interest to me is WHY Jean Auel chose to end her award winning series this way. She had given her leading character Ayla god-like prehistoric Harry Potter status (Ayla’s visions from dead people for example) in the previous books, and took all that away in this book. Making Ayla a ‘real’ person seemed to take priority over continuing any of the interesting plot lines developed in earlier books. I suspect Jean Auel’s present-day religion was motivation behind this. I suspect she didn’t like what she had created on some level and chose to correct it.
      Similar to other readers, I found the series lacked editing more and more as the books progressed. Authors who gain notoriety also gain power over editors. In this case, she should have listened to her editors more. I can’t imagine any editor not wanting to dramatically reshape this book. Provide more continuity with earlier books. Drop the repetition. My wife’s comment on the series as it progressed was basic lack of plot in the last 2 books – this last book being the worst.
      I think what amazed me in reading this last book is how many years she worked on it, and yet it appeared to be something she knocked off in a handful of weeks.

  • Adria Chizmar

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the reviewer here. As much as I love the series, since book 1, Jean Auel’s failing has been that she repeats over and over some things. The editors should have nipped it in the bud. The Mother’s Song is so long and so repeated, I would just skip it when I read.
    The Land of Painted Caves, although very interesting from the point of view of the actual caves, is indeed lacking in character development and plot. I thought there had to be one more book to resolve certain things. Auel has hinted throughout the series that Jondalar and Ayla may have some conflict regarding her more spiritual duties. The fate of Durc is left to our imagination. And we never find out what group or tribe Ayla originally belongs to. Who were her parents, why were they in Clan territory? I have spent 30 years waiting to find out.

  • Kellie

    I adored the whole series, and was so eager to read the book to follow shelters of stone. After all Ayla and Jondalar had finally finished their journey, were having children, getting married, and the best thing of all Ayla was delving into the spiritual world that she feared but for which she always seemed destined for. Then I read the entire book of Land of the painted caves. I tried to be patient, but I was bored senseless by page after page about cave paintings. I mean a couple of them through out the story would have been fine, but she takes us into I don’t know how many caves, that all have similar paintings. At one point, in one cave I was reading and reading and reading, I started to get irritated, so I started to flip forward to see how many more pages of this cave I’d have to endure, I think I’d already read about 20, and I was shocked to see that I have maybe 20-60 more pages to go, for one cave, and theres what maybe 15-20 caves she describes in the book. Its been a while since I read the book so my memory may be fuzzy on exactly how many pages total there were with regards to one cave, but I swear it was something like 60 pages total. The exciting parts of the book that were in there were spaced out far from one another, so you’d get an exciting detail, then be bored to tears by yet another cave, something neat would happen, another cave. I almost wish she had just ended at the Shelters of Stone, it was a good book that kept me hooked the entire time I read it, and at the end I was so excited to see Jondalar and Ayla finally mate and for her become a spiritual leader that I eagerly waited years for that book to come out, and it was a disaster. On top of boredom, I was disappointed to see what became of Jondalar and Ayla in the book, some people like that she showed she was human and made mistakes, but I always saw that about her. In my opinion this book was suppose to celebrate their coming together. Instead the problems they had in the last book, were the type of problems one deals with early on in a relationship, petty and childish, not something that fit either one of their characters personalities, by who they had become after they had reached the end of their journeys, the ones the experienced seperately, and the the one they accomplished together. I wish she had thrown that book out and started over, What a terrible ending to an amazing series. I hope my comments made sense, its 5:30 in the morning and I havne’t been to bed yet, so I apologize for any mispellings, and if what I wrote wasn’t clear.