Monday, December 2, 2013

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel (audio)

"But when did you see her talk to me?  When did you see her go into the cave?  Why did you threaten to strike a spirit?  You still don't understand, do you?  You acknowledged her, Broud, she has beaten you.  You did everything you could to her, you even cursed her.  She's dead, and she still won.  She is a women, and she had more courage than you, Broud, more determination, more self-control.  She was more man than you are. Ayla should have been the son of my mate."

This book was amazing!!  I can't believe that I've waited so long to read these books...and now I have five more to read.  It's going to be a very busy next couple of months :)

This is the first book in the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel.  She wrote the book back in 1980 (eight years before I was born!) and the final book in the series didn't come out until a couple of years ago in 2011.  The books are essentially the story of cavemen - the first people to walk the earth about 25,000 years ago.  The first book in the series tells the story of a young Cro-Magnon girl who is orphaned when the rest of her people are killed by an earth quake.  She is discovered by Iza, the medicine women of a clan of Neanderthals who call themselves the clan of the cave bear.

Iza and her brother Creb, the clan's Mog-ur or magician, become Ayla's adoptive parents and Iza begins to train her as a medicine women. Ayla is excepted as one of the people by the leader, but no everyone agrees, particularly the leader's son Broud.  As Ayla grows up, she struggles to conform to the ways of the clan. 

My favorite part of the book was not only the complex character interactions, but Auel's description of life thousands of years ago.  Her writing of the difference between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals is insightful and draws on scientific evidence of evolution and the development of man kind.  Intermingled in her story are numerous culture references to religion, family, sex, language, and survival techniques such as hunting and craftmanship.  Auel brought up interesting concepts regarding the mind and physical characteristics of the clan how it resulted in little change of the  people over hundreds of thousands of years.  I'm not sure if other books are out there or not, but this is the first historical fiction novel that I have heard about of read focused on this time period - or anything similar to it.

I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series and have already checked out all of the audio books so that I can listen to them on my way to work!  From what I have seen so far, the series is very well researched and took over 30 years to complete.  You can see some of Auel's sources that she used on her website.

This book was #5 on my Top Ten list of 2013.

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