on April 30, 2002
Well.... I picked up the first book in the series and should have put it down right away. I found Auel's narration very repetitive, even in the first few chapters, but I stuck with it, intrugued at what would happen to little Ayla. At the end of the book, I scurried to read the second, then the third and finally this one.
I have to say, this fourth book bored me stupid. I am not one to pass a sex scene by, but puh-lease! After the first one (a repeat performance of all the ones in "The Mammoth Hunters") I could stand no more. Between boring sex scenes, endless descriptions of pleistocene plant life (thanks Jean, we know you did some research, but enough already!) and a male lead I couldn't stand (Jondular), I probably skipped half the book in Fast Forward mode!
Am I the only person who just despised this guy Ayla was with? Who wanted her to tell him where to shove his moods and protectiveness, and run back to the place where she was happy (The Lion Camp)? Auel tried very hard to make you like this guy, but he was a whiner and wasn't going to be happy unless Ayla was bound up in a tent, unable to move and "get into danger." I really did try to like him, but couldn't see past his actions to actually doing so! The highlight of the book for me is when he gets caught by the tribe of women. As you can probably guess, Ayla goes bounding in to save him - and quite honestly, I don't think she should have bothered! He goes straight back to whining the second she hauls him out of there (he's desperate to get home and stops her from having any fun all the way through - except when he fancies a bit of nookie!)
In the unlikely event Ms Auel reads this, I am still intrigued to know how Ayla does in her new home, but please - no more repetitions!! We read it and understood what you wrote the first time. And the second, third, fourth, fifth... If you have to write sex secenes every 3 pages, can you make them shorter and less boring? We also don't need pages and pages about the individual leaves on a plant! The story arc is great - please get on with it!
By the way - does Ayla invent the wheel in book no. 5? She's invented practically everthing else so far!
on September 4, 2002
What went wrong with Jean Auel? Her series went downhill fast after the first book, and by the third I was beginning to wonder if she'd run out of plot! It was over 50% 'filler' --- descriptions of the scenery, the sex, and a contrived love triangle that made me want to step in and mediate so we could get on with the story. Fans of the series might be able to hang on long enough to finish this book, but if you're not already hooked you're better off to walk away from this worm!
on January 4, 2003
This section of the saga could have been combined with the arrival at Jondalar's home, minus the boring travel-log, and would have been a much better read.
Seriously, it read like a travel log.
Day 1 - they saw these plants, these animals. They ate this and that... They had a truly ridiculous conversation to recap the previous books just in case the reader hasn't read them yet.
Day 2 - repeat of day one with different plants and animals and food and another utterly stupid conversation...
Frankly, I skipped the other day-to-day travel descriptions, skimming ahead until they encountered other people just so I wouldn't have to read the horrific conversations the two of them had with each other. I told my husband that if we ever got to the point where we had conversations like that during our travels I would have to kill him. Yes, the author needed to recap the other 3 books just in case the reader hasn't read them, but honestly I felt it could have been done in a much more interesting way. Anyone who read this book without reading the others probably wouldn't read the previous (and much better) books strictly because no one wants to read about characters stupid enough to have these idiotic "remember when" conversations.
The characters didn't grow with this section of the saga. With the previous books, you could see improvements in the characters, ways that they grew spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, whatever. In this book, they appeared to be stuck in traveler's limbo. The characters themselves became boring and stagnant, making me wonder if they will continue to be characters that I truly want to read about. Truthfully, if I hadn't already purchased "Shelters of Stone", I think I would just pass. However, there is hope since I have started reading the 5th book in the series and so far, it is much better than the 4th.
I feel I could have skipped this segment of the saga entirely and not really missed anything.
on January 3, 2003
I actually bought and read this book when it first came out in hardcover in '91. The book has some interesting points, but it really starts to drag. When you get to the point where Ayla and Jondalar are bickering constantly, it gets really hard to read. Also, by this installment of the series, it really started to bug me that Ayla was always so well liked, and that she could do no wrong. Don't get me wrong, you always want the main character in any book to be smart, likable, etc., and you expect adversity, but it seemed like Ayla is just too eager to please everyone, too eager to help others....it just gets really annoying. We all are waiting for the inevitable- her pregnancy, the two of them arriving at Jondalar's home- it just took too long to develop. The biggest disappointment is that when they finally arrive, oh! guess what? It's the end of the book!! I believe the first three books were way more interesting, and the stories certainly moved quickly. Be thankful that none of you will have to buy it in hardcover!
on December 28, 2002
As my heading states, this book was definitely better than the incredibly dull and predictable Mamoth Hunters, yet still falls short of Clan of the Cave Bear. Ayla herself is interesting, as is her relationships to her many animal friends, but this book's overall storyline was hard to stay interested in at times, at least for the first half of the book. After leaving the realm of the Mamutoi, Ayla and Jondalar travel endlessly to try to cross the glacier before it warms up too much, and reach Jondalar's people. Day after day they eat, sleep, ride a little farther, and, every third chapter or so, sleep together in truly disgusting detail. And that is basically the book. Even so, I would still give this book a highly favorable rating, were it not that the author seems to feel the need to remind me, at least two or three times every paragraph, what a perfect man Jondalar is, and how lucky Ayla is to have him. Particularly when Jondalar is in reality one of the least perfect men in the series. He's jealous, selfish, whiny, and has two thoughts in his brain; sex, and protecting his current investment in continuing sex, Ayla. Still, it ends on a high note, which leaves me with high hopes for the next one.
on March 16, 2002
Compared to the previous three, this book was miserable. While I did not adore books two and three like I did _Clan of the Cave Bear_, they were still great reads I very much enjoyed.
However, this books was slow fails at being anything other then a massive book describing nothing but a plotless journey by Ayla and Jondalar. There are a few interesting episodes, but they takea long time to get to and are about a 100 pages apart-- and they're depressingly familiar from previous books in the series. Each sex scene has been done ten times before, each time Ayla and Jondalar are seperated, they run through the exact same dismal feelings and thought processes (for those who've read Goodkind's Sword of Truth, I was having Richard and Kahlan flashbacks), and the reactions of other cavemen to the Ayla-Goddess are tediously the same every time they run upon a new clan, forcing us to go through an identical first meeting scene every hundred pages or so. The journey could have been summed up much quicker, rather then having us follow along for almost 900 pages as the ice age heroes stroll across prehistoric Europe for a few months.
on February 22, 2002
This book is by FAR the least likable of the series. I was really impressed by the first, Clan of the Cave Bear, with it's strong story, deep and believable characters, and accurate descriptions of caveperson lifestyles. Valley of the Horses was enjoyable because of the survival strategies Ayla contrives, along with the animals she befriends. I did, however, skip nearly ALL of the chapters having to do with Jondalar--they were just too boring. The story really blossomed when the two eventually met. Mammoth Hunters was the second best, next to the first book, again with deep, well rounded characters and a very good and well paced story line. The character of Ranec added a delicious twist. I could have, however, (and this is true of all but the first book to which this does not apply) done with a bit less detail of their intimate Pleasures. I'm no prude, some of it is interesting, but at this point, well into the Plains, I'm no longer interested in the details of their lovemaking. I'd prefer just a warm phrase suggesting their activities. Also, no kidding, the action starts in this book somewhere around page 310. And I'm a patient reader, I'll read the landscape descriptions, the botanical notes, the details of flora and fauna, but I got B-O-R-E-D. Skim the first 300 pages, and then it starts to get interesting. A whole lot of tedious summaries, questioning thoughts of characters, and repetitive dialog still exist, but if you're patient, you can pull a good story out of it all. This book seemed like Ms. Auel was out of fresh ideas for the moment, but under obligation to publish.... Oh well, we can hope the new book is more satisfying, and that the author credits her readers with having read the previous four installations, leaving out all the summaries and repetitions.
on February 16, 2002
As written in the back of the book "With her companion Jondalar, Ayla sets out on her most dangerous and daring journey- away from the welcoming heart of the Mammoth Hunters, and into the unknown."
That sentence tells all about whats to come in this story. There are some surprisingly good sections in this story, between alot of sex and scenery.
My favorite part of the book is when "The Wolf Pack" comes in. It kind of reminded me more of like "The Amazons" in medevil times. Attaroa was the most twisted person mentioned in any of the Earth Children's series. She has much, depth, pain and craziness in her. She is one of the more interesting characters in this series.
The Novel has some other good parts as well, but I think that over all this book is just a "Good" novel. It was just about everything that I thought it would be. I can understand why some people were upset that it took Jean M. Auel a long time to write her next addition to this series. This one leaves you with a cliffhanger.
on February 11, 2002
The Earth's Children Series is my all-time favorite series of books and Plains of Passage is Auel's best work yet.
To enjoy this book, it's not imperative that you read the prior 3 books in the series, but after you finish reading Plains of Passage you will probably crave more of Jean Auel's writing. I know I do, and I absolutely can't wait for her fifth book, due out sometime in April (2002). My husband and I both read the series and we're probably going to have to get two copies of the fifth book so we don't have to share!
This series really transports you, and you find yourself believing that the main character, a prehistoric woman named Ayla, actually existed. When you reach the end of the book you have an urge to go back and start again from the beginning. This is definitely a book I have read many times and will keep (I don't keep very many books) to read again and again in the future.
If you want to read the entire series, I recommend Clan of the Cave Bear first, then Valley of the Horses. Mammoth Hunters didn't capture my attention as much as the other books ... not sure why. Mostly about hunting and "guy stuff" as I recall. So, you could just skip it and go on to this one.
I really identify with Ayla and can't wait for her to come alive again in Shelters of Stone!!!
on December 27, 2001
I have just finished rereading Jean M. Auel's 'Plains of Passage' after buying it in hardcover about ten years ago. Each time I go back to one of Ms Auel's books I rediscover aspects I had forgotten, or never even noticed.
I think the important thing to remember when reading the fourth novel in the Earth's Children series is just that - that it is the fourth novel of a series. It continues a story developed through the earlier three books and bridges a gap between one set of stories and the next. I'm sure it must have been very difficult to write a journey book. Developing characters who very rarely come into contact with others is surely a challenge. I think this accounts for some of the other reviewers' disappointment with the novel.
I can also understand reviewers' comments about the weighty tracts of botanical and geographical information but bring a different perspective to it. I have recently become interested in herbal properties, specifically herbal medicine and found it fascinating to speculate with Jean M. Auel about the use of familiar plants in the earliest days of civilisation. To think how long the human race has used datura, wormwood and chamomile...incredible. Admittedly the geographical and topological data lost me and I willingly skipped those bits. I also found the development of the relationships with the animals fascinating.
In the context of a journey book I found 'Plains of Passage' every bit as enthralling as the rest of the Earth's Children series. It presents a true hero and heroine, romance, historical information and a world that is familiar yet new and exciting. For any who haven't read the novels I can't give a strong enough recommendation to start with 'Clan of the Cave Bear' and work your way through before the fifth novel in the Earth's Children series is released in April 2002.