Tuesday, September 20, 2011

REVIEW: The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel

This novel, the fifth in the Earth's Children series, was a definite step-up from its two predecessors in my opinion. Auel spent the majority of the last novel, The Plains of Passage, describing foliage at length and throwing gratuitous sex scenes at the reader faster than a death eater throwing jinxes. I found The Shelters of Stone was more similar to The Clan of the Cave Bear in that through Ayla, the reader is able to discover and explore a entirely different race of people and their way of life. Although not as interesting at the Clan, the Zelandonii had to be an improvement on the grass and sex.

One part that made this book more enjoyable was the coming together of events that had been set-up and foreshadowed since book two. We have been hearing about Jondalar's family and people, his planned mating to Ayla and their potential negative response to her Clan heritage for some time and it all comes to fruition in this book. It was these elements that saved The Shelters of Stone from the lack of any kind of antagonist or conflict as with most of her books. Of course there were some members of the Zelandonii community that created problems for Ayla and Jondalar, but these were quite superficial and were set up in such a way that they seemed forced and obvious.

The first two thirds were a slow read for me, simply due to being busy, but I read the last third in two days, mostly because of my anally retentive nature. I went home to Tasmania this morning and didn't want to lug the book over just to read the last 50 pages, especially because I also took The Name of the Wind AKA the biggest book I own.

After spending the better part of this year reading the Earth's Children series, I am now anticipating the end. It's not that I didn't enjoy them, but they didn't have the same intensity as other fantasy novels I've read, such as those by Ian Irvine, Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks. I'll probably read a few others before The Land of Painted Caves because I have to wait until the paperback comes out before I'll buy it. Curse you hardbacks!

I've managed to cut down on the book buying in the last two weeks, but it took some effort. My partner even refused to stop at a Dirt Cheap Books we drove past, even though I was screaming at him to pull over. I tried to complain to my friends but they sided with him.