1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
Fantasy, Feminism, and Science Fiction, Jan 11 2002
Jean Auel's first book was excellent, beautifully written and well researched. Her second book was interesting and entertaining, but a bit far-fetched as Ayla became Supergirl. In her third book, The Mammoth Hunters, Jean Auel serves up a pathetic mix of fantasy, feminism, and science fiction.
If it weren't for the love scenes, which are nothing less than pornographic, this book could be classified as children's fantasy. Ayla is transformed into Wonderwoman, a medical genius able to cure any sickness or ailment with her holistic herbal approach. A convenient plant is always available for Ayla to use in her magic potions. She avoids pregnancy by taking some herbal remedy used by the Neanderthal women.
The author cares more about feminism here than history. In the summer camp, the ultimate tribunal is the Council of Sisters. There is a council of brothers, but that apparently is more like a petit court trying only misdemeanors. Only women can be trusted with the really important stuff. Each tribe is jointly ruled by a headwoman and a headman. The headwoman being just as, if not more, important in the hierarchy. Their god is a woman--Mut, The Great Earth Mother. At the mammoth hunt, which finally occurs in the last few chapters, the first killing spear is thrown by a woman. This is Jean Auel's perfect feminist utopia, but it is not history, not even pre-history.
Chapters 19 through 30 could be condensed into one. They spend the winter in the earth lodge doing nothing. Jondalar and Ayla stop talking but they really love each other, they just can't seem to get it together. Meanwhile, Ranec courts Ayla and Ayla submits, having been trained by the Clan always to submit to men sexually. The book grinds down to an excruciatingly slow pace for no good reason. We know Ayla's going to dump Ranec in the end for Jondalar, who Auel has changed from the brave, spear-making hunter in Valley of the Horses to a lovesick weakling who can't seem to put togther a sentence as simple as, "Ayla, I love you." Auel's frequent and puerile references to sex as "Pleasures" are most annoying.
Jondalar leaves the Mamutoi after summer camp, not wanting to see Ayla wed to Ranec. Ayla realizes she must have Jondalar and sends Wolf the Wonderdog to fetch him back. Wolf does his job, and our lovers find themselves as the formerly communicationally-challenged Jondalar starts using language of love worthy of Shakespeare.
I can only recommend this book to high-school girls looking for a teenage romance with a twist. It is not serious literature, and Jean Auel should not be trusted with history.