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 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.
on January 2, 2001
I saw that in a lot of the online reviews, people were very anxiously awaiting the sequel to "The Plains of Passage," but I heard, some years ago after inquiring about the sequel myself, that Ms. Auel passed away while in the middle of the next book in the series. The person who gave me this information also told me that Ms. Auel had a daughter who was planning to continue the book herself. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, but it has been some years since I was told this and I have not heard anything since. I do hope that if it is true, Ms. Auel's daughter will in fact complete the next book. Of course, it won't be the same - she couldn't know what was in her mother's mind for Ayla, Jondalar, Durc, the baby and the Zelandonii, but it's been years and I really want to get some sense of completion on that story - especially about Durc. It's killing me! Anyway, I'm just passing along what I know, just to let you all know. Okay, now that I have a forum to get this idea out there, I just want to get some perspective on an idea that I've been thinking about for a few years now - if any of you have read "Sing To Me Of Dreams," by Kathryn Lynn Davis, let me know if you have also noticed any bizarrely similar parallels between the stories of Ayla and Jondalar vs. Saylah and Julian (besides the name thing). It's been weirding me out for years! And as a student in a well-respected college, I VERY rarely use the phrase "weirding me out," so let me know if you see anything, if you have read these books.
on October 26, 2000
This having been the book most recently reread, I have been dying to rave about this series. I can say the usual, that the narrative is compelling, vivid, painting pictures of the Ice-Age in my head. Her characters-Ayla, Jondalar, Iza, Creb- are all interesting and well-drawn, alive, human. But I must agree with a statement made in another review, that there was WAY too much concentration on the geography of the land. At least, during this rereading, I skipped over it, eager to get to the action. This is where I disagree with my fellow fan. I think Auel has rightly established her protagonists as "Those of the Mother", and Ayla shines as an avenging angel, especially against a despotic Xena-like warrior leader of the S'Armunai people. This is really only the only instance in which they truly save the day. The other places in the story line, such as treating Roshario's broken arm and setting the Clan man's leg ring true because Ayla, after all, is an extraordinary healer. The love scenes between them are "pleasurable", as always. If there is one negative comment I can make, (and it's not so much negative as petulant and whining), is that the wait has been interminable for the next book. As I see it, much of what has been set up in "Plains" will come to fruition in the next novel, such as Ayla's assimilation into the Zelandonii and her impending pregnancy, and the possibility that Durc may make an appearance ( which, at least in my mind, would make for some interesting conflicts.) All in all, I highly recommend all the novels in the series to anyone who has ever felt the urge to curl up with a book.
on September 18, 1999
This book drags a little more in places than the previous ones, but it's still entertaining if you're a fan of the series. However, for every book since Clan of the Cave Bear (every book showing non-Neandertal cultures) I get the feeling that, while the material culture is certainly well researched, the way the people are actually living is not quite believable. They all get along too well, are perfectly egalitarian, and so on. (Hunting and gathering cultures are egalitarian, but there is still more of a sexual division of labor, especially with hunting, than you see in these books.) Also, I'd like to point out one (admittedly minor) flaw that probably very few people would notice. When Jondalar is captured and tied up by the tribe that hates men, Ayla throws her spear and cuts the rope tying his hands, freeing him. Well, I've experimented with spear-throwers for a few years now, and I've been to competitions and met some of the top throwers in the world, and I think it's very unlikely that Ayla could have been that accurate with her spear, especially considering her limited experience with the thrower (after all, it was just invented). But then, Ayla is a superwoman.
on June 9, 1998
At this point, *anyone* could write these books. The Mammoth Hunters was about 30% review material from prior books, and Plains of Passage was easily 40%. It's tiresome to re-read over and over about Jondalar's worries that he won't father a child. Should Ayla tell him about her special morning tea, or not? It's frustrating to keep rehashing old plots as the basis for new ones. If you are interested in how Ayla and Jondalar got where they are today, read the other books! For those of us who already know, we really want some more plot, please.
Regardless of these sentiments, I confess to being a complete junkie on these books. I find them extremely interesting in the light of their historical accuracy to archaeolgical artifacts. Yep, there's some sex, too, although it's pretty standard stuff, and for some reason, the idea of non-simultaneous orgasms must not have been around 15,000-25,000 years ago.
My predictions for the rest of this series: Ayla meets Jondalar's people and ends up being a head-woman of the Zelandoni, combining her spiritual and leadership abilities; along the way, she invents agriculture out of the necessity to have some crops nearby; Ayla invents archaic pictographic writing as a way of communicating across broad distances; Ayla bears a son to Jondalar, and that baby grows up and gets into conflict with Durc or his child, and the new ways overcome the old ways, fulfilling Creb's prediction, but Ayla can mediate because of her fluency in the languages of Clan and the Others; Ayla discovers that yeast makes bread rise; Ayla perfects the wine growing processes of the Zelandoni (who over time become the Franks); Jondalar invents the bow and arrow and perfects the spear-thrower; Jondalar has major anxiety over his early passion for his Zelandoni shaman but he doesn't tell Ayla because he's such a brooding type; love conquers all.
Sincerely, I hope Jean Auel will come out with the next book soon, because I'm dying to read it and I know that, flaws and all, these books ar! e still among my favorites.
on May 11, 1998
I loved the first 3 books; first reading them, then listening to the unabridged versions on tape. I really feel drawn into the world of our ancient past.
Reading the Plains of Passage in book form, I admit to a lot of skimming in the first half. Listening to it on tape was easier, as the descriptive passages were more interesting to listen to then I had remembered them on the page. At exactly the halfway mark, when Ayla & Jondalar first meet up with some people, things really get going, and the book goes from boring to exciting until the end.
I am really looking forward to hearing more of Ayla's story, and hope that in book five the author doesn't spend the first half rehashing stuff I already know, and endlessly describing Jondalar's impossibly blue eyes and impressive manhood.
There is an Earth's Children website and discussion group for people as fascinated by the series as I am...Hope I have the next book before then.
Meanwhile, I'll keep checking Amazon to see if the book is out yet!
on July 30, 2001
I found the following note about Auel's next book. I thought it would nice to put it here:
Daily News (New York) June 15, 2001, Friday LONG WAIT FOR AUTHOR'S LATEST BOOK BY PAUL D. COLFORD
It has taken Jean Auel 11 years to write "The Shelters of Stone" and readers will have to wait another year for publication of the fifth book in her enormously popular Earth's Children series, which began with "The Clan of the Cave Bear" in 1980.
Crown Publishers announced yesterday that it will release the new book around the world in May, continuing the story of Ayla, who was raised by the Clan of the Cave Bear after her family perished in an earthquake.
Auel brushed off speculation accounting for the 11-year gap between books, saying in a statement, "I do research the background extensively, and it does take some time to develop the material and work it into the story."
on March 31, 2003
I have absolutely fallen in love with the Earth's Children books. Jean Auel is a masterful story teller. She clearly has done a tremendous amount of research for these books, which adds to the enjoyment. Not only are we getting a fascinating story, but we a learning about man's evolving culture, nature, old world geography, natural healing and many other wonderful things. However, "Plains of Passage" was not quite as good as the first three books. The story line in this book seemed to be a bit repetitive. I also found myself skipping over large parts of the books because too much time was spent on describing the landscape or lifestyles of the animals around at that time. This book could easily have been half as long as it is. I have already started on "Shelters of Stone", which so far seems to show much promise of making up for the less exciting "Plains of Passage".
on March 14, 1998
This is one of the most spell-binding series of historical novels I've read, mainly because it relates so easily to current interests and trends. While based in the Ice Age, its explanation of herbal healing, learning about one's talents and inner self and how to relate to others, and the need to push oneself out of your "comfort zone" to learn and grow are all topics that are as important to life now as they were 25,000 years ago. After having traveled to eastern Europe on business and learning about herbal remedies as part of my job, I found this story to be intellectually stimulating, as well emotionally healing in this day of hurry-hurry. I'm now having Ayla withdrawal -- I miss her like a close friend and can't wait for the 5th book to be published! Please, Jean Auel, it's been 8 years since "The Plains of Passage," - just do it!